Greene Family Photos.

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“and dats daddy…and dats mommy….and dats MEEEE!!!”

That was Lady H pointing out people in the pictures that are hanging on our wall. It’s one of the things that we love to see her do because we think it’s important. A couple of things are happening here:

  • She is able recognize people in pictures in different scenarios. Supposedly, that a development marker or sumfin…
  • She can also recognize the younger versions of the people that she knows. She can pick out Lady C when she was a toddler and Hayden when he was a young man (… and yes, he was once a young man!).
  • She sees her family represented visually all the time.

Hayden is a photographer so that last one is the most important reason that he encourages people to take family photos. Well that, and we need to keep the lights on! (Shameless plug: make sure you come to his Annual Pop Up Gallery Show on November 22nd) But indulge us for a few:

You may have heard the statistic that 90% of all photos ever taken from the invention of the camera until now, have been taken in the last 3-5 years. That’s staggering! It’s a direct result of the advent of digital photography and the fact that everyone has a camera in their pocket these days. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is a topic for another day but it does raise an issue: where do all those photos end up?

Printing pictures has become as archaic as typing a letter on a typewriter. Instead of hanging a picture on a wall, most people opt to posting it on their Facebook wall. Instead of sending grandma and grandpa a picture of the newborn family member in the mail, people opt to emailing them a link to the pic on their Instagram page. When someone asks to see a picture of your kids, instead of pulling out your wallet with a bunch of wallet sized photos, most people pull out their phones and scroll through their gallery. It’s just innovation changing the way we view photos…right?

Well think about this for a moment: in this new digital age, where do young children see their family represented? They don’t have continued access to phones, laptops, and tablets. They only see these pictures when someone chooses to show it to them or if they ask to view it. I think that it’s important that they see their unit (whatever it looks like: traditional, nuclear, extended, blended, non-traditional, etc) all the time. It tells them that they belong to something and that there are people that love them. Also, it reminds them that their actions affect a larger group than just themselves. Both these things are hugely important to us. But Hayden is an old soul (housed in an old body) so we may just be behind the times!!

How do you display your photographs? Do you hire a photographer to take professional ones? How do you share your pictures?

Hey Mister! What do YOU do?

So we are country of hustlers. Everyone has a side job, or a cottage industry on Etsy.com, or some sort of freelance project these days. Born out the bad economy, people became creative when it came to making ends meet. I even published a book about NYC hustlers called “Hustle City“…shameless plug…buy it on Amazon….

I am no different though. I have been a college administrator for 20 years now (I know I don’t look that old…right!…right?!?!). I have an established career with respect from my peers.

But that’s not all folks!

I have also established myself as a pretty good photographer, if i do say so myself. I have a healthy clientele and I have published two books while currently working on two more (PS see me if you like to wear bow ties).

So where am I going with all of this?

Today I participated in career fair in my fraternity Brother’s school. Streams of students mulled by my table and asked the same question:

“Hey Mister! What do YOU do?”

And then I had to stop and think: what is going to be interesting to these 4th and 5th graders? Then again, maybe I should be telling them about the career that will inspire them…well which one is that? LOL Lord knows I dare not try to explain having two careers to them! I could see their little eyes start to glaze over at THAT prospect!

Well I chose to tell them about being a photographer and all that went into it. They seemed very interested in the pictures that I showed them and how I created the images. They wanted to know if I took pictures of famous people so I mentioned Chris Brown and Mariah Carey. I lost them, though, when I talked about New Edition and Uncle Charlie!!

I started to wonder: what does Lady C think her daddy does? She knows I’m a photographer and she knows which college I work for, but what does she think I DO there? If asked, which job would she choose?

What do your kids think you do?
You should ask them and
tell me what happens?
I’d love to hear the responses!

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Daddy confessions.

I had decided to use this forum to air out some of my dirty laundry. I have some confessions to make and I think I should ask for forgiveness from our readers… Le Sigh…here I go…

I hide from my family sometimes. 
Now I don’t mean that I go out for milk and return 3 months later. Or say that I’m going to hang out with some friends and then don’t return for 6 years. Nothing crazy like that. I hide in my kitchen!
I…I…ummm…errr…
Wash dishes!
See we have a traditionally formatted house so if I’m in the kitchen then I can escape for 5 minutes to reset my brain! And even though washing dishes is my MOST HATED chore, it’s a perfect reason to escape to the man cave…ummmm …I mean the kitchen. I’ve heard my wife hides in the bathroom but who am I to judge!

I assassinate balloons.
My kids LOVE balloons. I mean, if there is a helium filled orb in a 1 mile radius, these girls go crazy!  I, on the other hand, DESPISE balloons! Just call me the Grinch of Inflatable Objects. So when balloons get to the house, overnight they seem to lose their ability float! It’s like they all develop a tiny leak at the base of the knot and within a day they’re completely flat! It’s soooooo weird! My kids can’t figure it out and neither can I. I think Aisha is onto me though.

I have opposite views about snow.
Here is my Lady C’s reaction to snow:
“YAAAAAAY!!!!”
Here is MY reaction to snow:
“@#$^&”)@&@^%$!!!!!” 
She thinks about snow angels and going down the slide into the backyard into a pile of fluffy snow. I, however, think of shoveling, scraping, salting the pathways. AND I hate the cold (you may remember I’m Trini!) so snow is a reminder that I don’t live in the tropics any more!  I make every excuse not to go outside, including, but not limited to, “It’s too cold outside”, “The snow is too wet”, or “Daddy’s back is killing him”! Almost none of these excuse are ever actually true. Don’t judge me. I suck it up at least once a season and go pretend like snow is cool.

I lie about batteries.
Inevitable a noisy, annoying toy makes its way into the Greene house and of course, it will be the girl’s most favorite thing…and the reason for multiple headaches on my part. Fortunately, most of the toys run on batteries which means that they eventually die. That’s where my sinister actions take over. Rather than replace the batteries, I put on the saddest voice I can and say, “Oh nooooo! The blah blah blah toy is BROKEN!! Let’s put it over there with the rest of the ‘broken’ toys. So sad!” Shhh…this plan is flawless…for now.

I know. I know. This make me a horrible father. I hope you all can forgive me. However, I am sure you have some stuff that you have to confess too! I can’t be alone…I hope!

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Oops…my bad!

We teach our kids a lot of lessons:

  • How to tie your shoes laces.
  • How to eat properly at the table.
  • The value of play and exercise.
  • What is the proper way to be a Jets fan.

One of the most important lessons that we teach our children is taking responsibility for your actions. In our house, Lady C ALWAYS has a reason why the thing that just happened “wasn’t her fault”:

 “You stopped me before I could do the right thing.”

“I didn’t mean to but Grandma made me do it.”

“I thought you said to do it.”

“So-and-so did it so I can’t be blamed for my actions.”

Just a few weeks ago, I stopped her from spouting one of her many excuses and said,

Just own up to it and say I’m sorry. Don’t blame someone else for your actions!

Good advice…so I thought.

Until recently, when I realized that I wasn’t following myself!

I had done something wrong (as we husbands are prone to do) and immediately I started spewing a bunch of excuses (you know: the tools of the weak and incompetent, used to build monuments of nothingness? Yeah…those!). All of a sudden I heard the words that I had told my daughter coming from my wife’s mouth… to me. Jarring. In that moment, I realized a few things:

Sometimes we need to listen to our own advice/lessons. Children can make you revisit the basics of human behavior because they’re at the starting blocks of their life. The lessons they’re learning should still be important to us but we forget sometimes.

Watch your actions: you’re kids are watching. I know we hear that all the time but most of the time we’re talking about really bad stuff like drinking, smoking, or domestic violence. It applies to bad habits like making excuses too. Now, I don’t know that Lady C sees that from me and copies it, but now I will be conscious of it.

Be easy on your kids: they’re still learning. Sometimes I get frustrated that I have to say the same thing over and over again. After a while you should get this, right? Well clearly, some things stay with us all of our life and we have to keep working on it. If I’m still hammering away at it, it stands to reason that it’s an even more difficult concept for a kid to grasp!

Have you ever had to take a step back and take your own advice? What did that look like for you?

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Not a Pinterest Dad

So I’m on Pinterest all the time. I use it mostly for inspiration & tutorials for photography and for keeping up with gadgets and innovations. However, there is no escaping the multitude of examples of parents doing amazing things for their children. The one you see the most are the parents who make their children’s meals look like works of art! You’ve seen this: plates of vegetables in the shape of a face, Disney shaped pancakes, or watermelons carved in the Matterhorn. They make the meager pancakes that we feed to our children look like crap that we peeled off the bottom of a donkey’s butt. Who are these people and how do they have the time to create a mini bits of art work on the baggies that they pack their kid’s lunch in (and actual thing. Observe.)? I barely have enough time to reheat the pancakes I made a few days before. Or do I? I decided to stage an experiment:

Lady C likes the same thing every morning: pancakes. Sometimes we add fruit but it’s pretty much pancakes – Monday through Friday.  So I tried something new. Every morning I cut up her pancakes and arranged them in a pattern. I even added fruit and and stuff to jazz it up. Check it out:

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So do you want to know what I found out? THE KID COULDN’T CARE LESS!!!  Never once a mention of “Hey Daddy. That looks like a sun” or “Wow Daddy! That’s a cool pattern”. Nuffin!  It proved one thing to me: most of the time when parents are putting in all this effort, the children don’t really care. So Lady C is back to having her pancakes cut into eights randomly on the plate. She’ll be fine without the Picasso impressions.

What’s your opinion? Are you a Pinterest mom or dad? If you are, how do you carve out the time?

Fearless Scaredy Cats!

So we’ve discussed Lady C’s crippling fear of all things creepy crawly (Update: she’s doing much better. Freak outs are to a minimum now). The kid is a afraid of bugs like ants, things that you can squash with a pinky finger. But that’s where it ends. The things that I would expect for her to be afraid of, she is fearless with!

We were in the subway one time and Lady C points out an ever-present member of the vermin population of the underground and says, “Awww look at the cute rat!” Really!!??! Ants freak you out but this brown scurrying, long tailed, scourge of NY travelers doesn’t phase you? (side note: I am typing this through fingers covering my eyes and Lady C sitting on my shoulders. If only we had furniture!) And her sister is the same way by the way!

Lady C and H both love dogs. That’s fine and cute but it’s not just the little lap dogs. It’s every dog and in every size. I took them to the park to fly kites and Lady H makes a beeline to some dogs that she sees:
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Now I’m a grown man and I can tell that these aren’t small dogs so my protective instinct kicks in. The absolute opposite happens for my two girls! Forget the kite, let’s go pet the dogs!! As they get closer, they start to realize that the dogs aren’t just big dogs, they’re HUGE!!  No matter. There’s PETTING to be done!

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As you can see these dogs are taller than they are and are curious. I don’t know about you but if I ran into an animal that was taller than I was and looks like it could swallow me, I’d be cautious! Nope! Not these two. They pet them, the dogs licked them, and at one point I think someone asked to ride one (can’t take them nowhere).

Any-Ole_Chocolate-Way, the moral of this story is that kids can be such Scaredy Cats in one instance and be totally fearless in another.

Do you have similar stories or are my children strange (rhetorical question, of course)???

Daddy Problem #4 – The play dates

I’m an involved dad. I don’t babysit my kids. They’re my kids. When they’re with me, they’re with their parent so it’s not babysitting. It’s that mentality that is ever present whenever I leave the house with any one or both of my girls. I will admit though, I am hypersensitive to when people apparently treat me differently when I am the parent present. Sometimes I think people are trying to figure out whether I’m the manny or if that’s actually my kid (gasp! A black father taking his kid out and having a good time! Alert the propaganda machine!).  Anyway, there is situation where I am not imagining things: getting invited to play dates.

Frequently, my mother, mother-in-law or my wife take Lady C to the park, museum, playground, or somewhere with other children.  It is guaranteed that they will be approached by one of the parents of the children that Lady C is playing with to have a follow-up play date. We have had many conversations about the reason that she was in such high “demand” for play dates but that’s a blog for another time. Whatever the reason, Lady C had a very busy social calendar thanks to the playground connections.

It is a different experience when Daddy takes Lady C to the playground!! Well, not on her part. Definitely on mine though. Lady C interacts with as many kids when she is with me as she does when she was with the women but I never receive an invitation to have a subsequent rendezvous. Frankly, no-one even speaks to me on the playground! And it happens everywhere I take the kid.

I’ve wondered if the man in the playground is creepy? Were the women with children afraid to invite Lady C lest they invite a strange man into their home or give their number to one? I never get an invitation from strangers and even got shaded by one of the parents in a program that Lady C was in. She knew me as the person who dropped Lady C off all the time and wanted her to have a play date with her child. She mentioned it and then asked WHO she should talk to to set that up. ME, I replied!! ME!

Women, have you ever approached a father in the park to set up a play date? Am I imagining things? Fathers, have you experienced the same thing? Soon I will have the same occasions with Lady H. Is there any advice to avoid this happening again? Looking forward to your comments.