As I was driving you to school one day last week, a lady in an SUV was driving towards us in the opposing lane. I saw her smile at us, just in a friendly way as if to say “good morning” to random strangers, so I smiled back.
But as she got closer to us, I realized she was only squinting at the sun.
It didn’t make a difference though. I had already received a feeling of “the world is a good place” from her because I perceived that another human being was making an attempt to brighten my day.
I think that was around last Thursday- and it’s weird, because since then, I have been making a more conscious effort of being more of a giver and less of a jaded critic… or as Gandhi put it:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Yeah, I’ve seriously been trying to do that. I’m beginning to be the guy at work who is going around sincerely asking people how they are doing and asking about what’s new in their lives- with no intention to tell them anything about myself.
I’m remembering to smile even when no one is looking, but especially when people are looking. I’m reminding myself that “being nice” is more than just not being rude; it’s going out of my way to positively affect other people by actions and attitude.
What if I’m the best news that happens to them all day?
Before, I basically just said hi and kept walking.
It just so happens that a few days ago I came across this infographic (featured below) called “The Science Of Raising Happy Kids,” which explains a lot of cool things, some of which I’ll be talking about soon.
As for today, though; one of those things is the importance of a parent being an example of optimism to their kids.
Whether or not you end up having a sunny outlook in life is actually determined in part by how you see me, your parent, react to things beyond my control.
You live with me. In theory, you may even know me better than I know myself.
So you have been a witness to my streaks of pessimism, which can have an effect on you. This is me beginning to make a deliberate effort from here on out to be more optimistic.
Because I’m seeing now it actually matters scientifically, according to the studies this infographic is based on.
I needed to be reminded of that. Perfect timing.
This is me trying to be the change I wish to see in the world. I am more likely to be an example of optimism to you if I’m already that way to everyone else in my life anyway.
So much for the glass being half full. I say, “Hey, it’s totally full.”
It’s full of chocolate almond milk, just the kind you like. Even when you’re being a slightly sneaky little rascal!
I’ve always had this idea for a Saturday Night Live skit, in which a group of adults speak dialogue based on the previously recorded conversations of young children.
It could potentially be hilarious, as 3 year-old such as yourself come up with some off-the-wall stuff without even trying.
Yesterday when I picked you up from school, you informed me that before we left, you needed to pick out a prize from the treasure box, since your daily report indicated you were well-behaved and took your nap.
As we looked inside the treasure box, there were stickers, actions figures based on the KinderCare mascot, and Dum Dum lollipops.
While I’ve established myself as the most hard-core dad in a 50 mile radius when it comes to preaching the evils of kids eating petroleum-based food dyes, I give you some grace when it comes to special treats you get at school; especially when it’s a very small amount, and based on good behavior.
Last week you got to try your first Dum Dum, which was sour apple flavored: You called it “sour green.”
Yesterday you chose a brown Dum Dum. With joy, as I was carrying you out the door as we left, you proclaimed: “Daddy, maybe it’s a sour brown one!”
I couldn’t stop laughing. You didn’t know what I thought was so funny, but you joined in the laughter.
The concept of “sour brown” is… Willy Wonka-ish.
“Sour” and “brown” are such an odd match.
Seeing that you had such an open mind on the subject, I didn’t tell you which flavor the brown Dum Dum actually was; I wanted to get your natural take on it.
“Daddy, this sour brown one is peanut butter… Daddy, it doesn’t sound good. I don’t like it.”
Interesting. I could see how peanut butter could taste like root beer, to a 3 year-old.
However, you weren’t completely convinced that the brown Dum Dum was actually sour brown or peanut butter, so you asked me to be sure.
I figured that trying to explain to you what root beer was would be too confusing, so I just told you it was soda flavored. Your response:
“Daddy, soda isn’t healthy. I don’t like the way it sounds.”
I now realize you haven’t learned the word “tastes” yet; you use “sounds” instead.
So basically, when it’s all said and done, sour brown is the new peanut butter, and you don’t like the way that sounds.
Last week at work, I had a conversation with a co-worker named Matt, who has two small kids.
I was telling him how, the longer I’m a parent, the mellower of a person I am becoming. In other words, stuff is just bothering me less compared to the way it used to.
To my surprise, he agreed- he can also personally relate. We acknowledged that whether it’s gaining more patience, or a greater ability to not allow annoying things to bother us, the journey of being parents has broken us in, for the better.
Over three years ago, when I become a parent, I was a much more out-spoken, polarizing person; especially in regards to the world of social media… especially in relation to politics and religion.
Well, that has definitely gradually changed over the past couple of years.
For example, I no longer care to publically share my political affiliation (or disassociation). I feel that public political conversations divide people; causing them to believe that by putting blind faith into a certain political party, that there’s hope that “the other side” will be converted into an opposing belief system; therefore “getting America back on track.”
I’m so over that. I can’t change people’s political beliefs. Plus, I don’t want to be labeled (and limited) to just one side.
All I can do is hope to change the world through my behavior, which (hopefully) proves the validity of my beliefs in the first place.
Having learned that, I’ve realized that same concept applies to parenting issues which I had previously debated with other parents about.
Like the “cry it out” method, attachment parenting, and circumcision…
I used to be so quick to allow myself to get involved in public online debates over those issues. These days, I strive to not take, or present, the bait.
And really, I haven’t said anything controversial in a while…
Granted, I’m still constantly thinking out of the box, and open-minded to concepts that many people might question.
But now, I’m handling these situations differently than I would have six months or even a year ago:
Has anyone else seen the documentary “911: In Plane Site” on Netflix (will be removed on March 15) or on YouTube in its entirety? If so, will you send me a private message including your thoughts on it? I am asking for a private message response (not a comment) because I am attempting to avoid starting a comments war on my wall, in which I appear as a divisive host or commentator, or am labelled as a conspiracy theorist. I am not seeking controversy; only private answers to help sort out some confusion I’m having. Thanks.
I still like to engage people, and learn from others, but not at the risk of being polarizing. So I’m more discreet and more private about my questions and concerns regarding the world and the people who live in it.
It’s my opinion that the chaotic process of parenthood has forced me to focus on what really matters.
I have gotten to the point where I don’t feel the need to have to explain myself to other people if they find out my point of view and disagree with it. What’s the point in defending your beliefs to someone who is not open-minded to hearing them anyway?
Instead of controversy, I’m seeking the collaboration of ideas with other people.
I seek truth, not simply believing I’m right.
Being a parent has peripherally taught me to focus more on how I can become a better person withthe help of other people; not how I can try to make other people better against their will or conviction.
It’s trained me to not let things bother me like they used to. I don’t know if this necessarily makes sense to other parents, but it’s definitely how I feel.
Spoiler Alert: Contains some minor revelations of how Breaking Bad ends.
This was a special week in the world of Netflix as people who are too cheap to pay for cable or satellite (or iTunes) were able to see the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad.
I managed to watch them all over 3 nights; Wednesday night I only slept 4 hours in anticipation of seeing what happened, in the end, to Walter White, the terminally ill high school science teacher turned meth dealer who wanted to provide a living for his family after he was gone.
One of the reasons this show is so captivating is that it capitalizes on the thin line between good and evil, as well as the gradual breakdown of a “good man’s” morals, under the guise of “doing something wrong but for the right reasons.”
It’s fascinating, as a spectator of the demise, to find myself rooting for the anti-hero up until nearly the final episode; despite the fact he literally destroyed (and ended) more lives than I would care to count.
The fact that I was privately hoping he didn’t get caught reveals something about my own damaged sense of morality. It shows me that even in the smallest, unidentifiable ways, I can be wrong and be convinced I’m right.
Ultimately, Breaking Bad is a story about a man who gains the whole world, yet loses his soul.
When I say that he loses his soul, what I mean is that what mattered to him more than anything (at least, at first) was his family, and he lost them:
In the end, Walter White’s teenage son outright hates him; even changing his name to Flynn, from Walt Jr.; a subtle way to detach himself from his father, as he watches his father become preoccupied with his work, compensating with gifts, but not regular quality time.
Walter White’s marriage remains in tact only in a legal and business sense. And his infant daughter will grow up knowing her father only as a murderous drug dealer.
That’s just the damage he did to his immediate family…
However, he did manage to (illegally and off the radar) leave his family (via his son) millions of dollars ($9.72 million, to be exact) to live off for the rest of their lives.
One question that the final episode proposed to me was, what kid would choose millions of “dirty” dollars from a father they despised… over having a father who truly cared about them and loved them with all his heart, though he didn’t leave them much money behind?
To me, it’s a no-brainer.
There’s a good chance I’ll never be able to leave you with millions of dollars, but I can love you with all my heart. I know that’s what you’d rather have anyway.
It is no secret by now thatThe Lego Movie is what all the kids on the playground are talking this week.
Well, actually, with it being so cold, I guess it’s what they’re all talking about as they’re inside… playing with Legos.
I catch myself singing the theme song, “Everything Is Awesome” as I’m driving you to school in the morning.
You protest, “No, Daddy, no!”
Then you immediately sing the song under your breath instead.
I feel like “Everything Is Awesome” is becoming a meme:
A meme (/ˈmiːm/; meem) is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.
Anyone who has seen The Lego Movie can hear another person sing those three words and automatically, they just have to laugh…
Because that means that both of those people are “in the know.” It’s as if to say, “Hey, you were at the movie theatre last weekend with your kid too, for the same reason as me.”
Granted, there is the other hugely popular kids’ movie still at the theatre: Frozen.
More relevant is the sing-a-long edition.
Well, the plan is, actually, now that you’ve proven you can handle sitting through 23 minutes of movie previews, then a 90 minute movie, we’re planning on taking you to see Frozen this weekend while Nonna and Papa are in town.
I learned two things from our experience last weekend when I took you to go see The Lego Movie:
Number one: At 38 inches tall and weighing 33 pounds, you’re not quite big enough to sit in the movie theatre seat, without your legs hovering to the level of your face. So after the previews were over, you sat in my lap.
With being said, it has been established (by you) that you want to switch between sitting on Nonna and Papa’s lap for Frozen this weekend.
So in other words, when looking for seats in the theatre, I don’t have to look for a seat for you. And as we both know, even though we were there early last week, we just barely found seats.
Number two: Though the matinee started at 5:00 (5:23 after previews) and therefore, you got to bed later that night than usual, the matinee was worth the change in your normal schedule. The matinee was basically half the price it would have been for any other time.
So what I am saying is, I’m not opposed to us going to the movies more often, if for the two us, it only costs a total of 10 bucks.
Seriously, the older you get, the more fun parenting is becoming. I like this groove.
I’m starting to believe, that truly, everything is awesome!