Daddy Fails – Dude You’re Making Us Look Bad!

So here’s the thing: men screw up all the time. In fact, in the dictionary under the word “man”, the definition reads:

“creature prone to screwing up”

Don’t bother to look it up. Just trust me on this one…

Anyway, when those men become daddies, their screw ups become immortalized as Daddy Fails. All of us fathers have committed them. Some of us are better at it than others. Some of us are down right pathetic!

Here is my attempt to help those poor saps who are struggling:

DO learn how to comb your child’s hair ESPECIALLY if you have a girl. Please learn a simple braid, or how to make a bun, or how to put a barrette in their hair.
DO NOT pick up a hair magazine and try to mimic one of those styles! Please do not attempt to create a faux-hawk with enough gel to clog up the Suez Canal! We will talk about you, simpleton!

DO learn how to operate your child’s stroller. It is NOT intuitive, no matter how easy it looks.
DO NOT let the first time that you attempt to open a new stroller be in front of your boys. It is not a pretty sight. Ask me how I know…

DO take an active role in your child’s extra curricular activities and play chauffeur to their many practices.
DO NOT show up with your child completely unprepared for the aforementioned activities. Don’t  show up to swim practice with your child still wearing jeans and timbs at the pool. Put the swimming suit, ballet outfit, or costume on at HOME … not 5 minutes before the class is supposed to start, moron!

DO be responsible and feed your kids on the regular schedule if your wife/partner leaves town and entrusts you with the care of your miniature humans.
DO NOT have those meals consist of fries and chicken nuggets, three times a day for 5 days straight, yuh lazy lima bean (shout out to In Living Color)! When your kids gain 10 pounds mysteriously in your partner’s absence you gon’ have some ‘splanin ta do!!

Lastly, and seriously…
DO place your children in a high priority in your life. Remember: they’re counting on you.
DO NOT forget that your partner needs your attention too! It’s easy to become super parents and forget that there is an adult that you are in a relationship with too. Save some (a lot) of love for them too!

Hopefully, this short list saves some new dad some anguish.

What’s the worst “Daddy Fail” that you have ever seen?
What would be different, if anything, if it were a MOTHER that you saw struggling with these things?

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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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Work Hard! Dream Big! Lady C’s Lunch With a Black Rockette

A few weeks ago Lady C went to see the Radio City Spring Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. We’ve been to the Christmas Spectacular several times, we’ve had dinner with a family friend that is a Rockette, several of them signed a souvenir doll for Lady C when she was a baby and we have even done a backstage tour but… she never met a black Rockette and didn’t know they existed.

After the Spring Spectacular, Lady C came home with a question that rocked us. She asked her dad:

Can I only be a Rockette if I am tan?

If you’ve read our blog before, you will know that we’ve explored the topic of race and color with Lady C. She uses the term tan to refer to white people… which includes her little sister… (and that’s a discussion we are still working on… that her sister is not, in fact, white).

Man, we were devastated.

Here we are… a family with a mother with a law degree, a dad with a Masters degree, each of us with careers that make us proud.

Here we are, a family that watched the inauguration of Barack Obama while Lady C was a baby, in utero, and we cried because our child would only know a world with a black President.

Here we are a family who felt like we could tell her she could be ANYTHING …. and it would be true.

But here we were with a five year that feels like she cannot do something because of her brown skin.

Whoa!

This moment was so timely because there was a lot of social media discussion around Black Girls Rock, First Lady Michelle Obama’s appearance and whether the Black Girls Rock movement is a racist one. The fact of the matter is that ABSENT representation is just as detrimental as NEGATIVE representation on the self-esteem, aspirations and ambition of young children. They need to see it to believe it!

So what did we do? We did what any rationale person would do… we cried to our mommy. Lady Cs grandmother, GG, has had a part time job at Radio City for years and a great relationship with many Rockettes.  So GG asked Danielle who is not only a black Rockette but was one of the marquis ones for marketing during their most recent season.

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That’s Danielle!

Danielle agreed to meet Lady C and they had a fabulous lunch and even did a kick line together. Danielle told her about her career, when she started dancing and about other brown women dancers. Apparently Danielle is now invited to Lady C’s sixth birthday party… ha!

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Danielle and Lady C

wpid-0422151655c.jpgWhen she got home I asked Lady C about her experience and whether I could record it for other little black girls. She agreed.

Here it is…. enjoy.

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Lady C’s video message

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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?

He Said She Said: Dealing with Picky Eaters


We have some picky eaters on our hands! Whew! Lady C used to eat anything we gave her and now she only wants a limited list of items that fall within her box. Fortunately it DOES include vegetables and DOES NOT include candy (she actually hates hard candy… weird). Lady H, on the other hand, has never been interested in experimenting and currently only wants meat (of any kind) and broccoli.

When it’s time for dinner The GreenEs have very different philosophies on how to deal with picky eaters. Come see why at He Said She Said.

HE SAID: YOU EAT WHAT I COOK 

I grew up with my grandmother in the Caribbean. I repeat: a Caribbean grandmother. Now I’m old school so she was NEXT LEVEL old world attitude. She grew up in a time where there wasn’t a lot to go around. She and her 5 siblings lived in a 2 bedroom house and had to walk 30 miles to school each day…uphill…both ways…in the snow…in Trinidad! The point is that, even though we were in a far better place financially, Granny still didn’t act like were rich.

As a result, you ate what was on your plate. If you didn’t like it, you didn’t EAT! Period! Stew chicken?  yummmm! Sure! I’ll eat that. Tripe? YUCK! I ate that too or starved!  My grandmother was not making two pots. And she definitely was not adjust HER menu to cater to MY tastes. Now this meant that I ate a lot of great tasting food but I also ate some nasty crap like liver and tripe. And I didn’t die! Or starve. It’s no wonder that I adopted that same philosophy towards feeding children.

When Lady C was younger, she ate everything we put in front of her. Then suddenly she became very choosy about what she would consume. It frustrates me to no end to think about whether there is something that my child will eat in the fridge as opposed to whether there is food period. And her tastes are very different to mine. The child won’t eat shrimp!! I can’t trust anyone who doesn’t eat shrimp who isn’t allergic to it (update: I have since come around to her point of view though. They do look kinda creepy sitting on the plate from a kid’s perspective).  I want her to eat healthy foods so I try to make her eat a wider range of foods but it’s gotten to the point where it’s actually easier to prepare two meals than try to mask or alter the thing I want her to eat. Every now and again I’ll introduce something different (like baked potatoes which met with  opposition, stating “I don’t like potatoes!”. I reminded her that fries were made of potatoes and therefore she stop eating those too. Clean plate) and put my foot down but I don’t do it often. It’s not worth the battle at the end of the day!

SHE SAID: FIND OUT WHAT THEY LIKE TO EAT AND MAKE SURE THEY EAT PLENTY OF IT.

When I was growing up I was a VERY VERY picky eater. Looking back, I don’t know how my family dealt with me! I only wanted to eat what I wanted or I refused to eat at all. Many tactics were used against me by family members….

I was forced to sit at the dinner table …. allllll night long until I finished my plate. (which never worked, I always outlasted the grown ups)

I was put on punishment for not eating my meals. (*shrug* still didn’t eat them)

I was made to eat foods I did not like “Because I said so”.

I even had to watch commercials that showed starving children in other countries and was told to be grateful for the food I had.

NONE of these tactics worked… none… the one thing that worked… PATIENCE.

When I was really little my mom told my pediatrician that I would only eat ice cream… his advice was… MAKE SURE SHE EATS A LOT of it. Now, that’s pretty silly to make a kid only eat ice cream but I think the crux of his statement was – find what she likes and make sure she eats plenty of it. That worked for me.

I only liked string beans so when a plate of brussel sprouts was placed in front of me, I REFUSED to eat it. (Still to this day I’m not a fan even though I’ve had it fried and cooked at some of the best restaurants… nope, don’t like it). I never understood why I just could not have some string beans… I mean, why fight and fuss about it when they are good for you! Just give me my beans! As I got older I grew out of the picky eater stage. Although I still don’t like certain foods, by and large I am very open to trying anything. I love exotic foods and I just needed time to adjust.

For my own children, I’d rather not waste hours arguing over food. So long as it is balanced, they can eat the same thing each night. It does not concern me to have children that love quinoa and couscous and avocado though – that would be nice. I do insist that they at least TRY something once… just try… taste it to see if they like it and that has worked to expand options. But if they try and don’t like it, I move on and don’t insist they finish the plate. So if Lady C wants to eat cut up chicken, pasta noodles and broccoli each night… cool with me… she’ll grow out of it and be having sashimi with me in no time!

Tell us – how does your family deal with picky eaters?

Two Right Handed Parents, One Left Handed Kid

When Lady C was 2 and half years old she started reading independently. At first we thought she was just memorizing books so color us shocked when she started reading book after book without having it read to her first. She is now 5 and can read pretty much anything she puts her hands on and is enjoying chapter books. We don’t say this to impress you because all kids have SOME special skill where they accelerate and then lack in some other area. Our kid is an early reader and our kid’s area of concern is HANDWRITING!

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CAUGHT ‘EM! They put themselves in this position…

So while Lady is reading books left and right (pun intended) including reading to her sister, we noticed that she was not holding writing utensils well… we noticed that she was holding them in her left hand. Neither of us are left handed and it proved to be difficult to show her or teach her the proper grip. Couple that with over use of tablet devices and by the time she was in Pre-K her teacher referred her to the in-school Occupational Therapist. She was assessed and sure enough, the report came back that her hold is weak as compared to her fellow students. I know I know — some of you are probably out there thinking, she’s 5! What’s the big deal? And… that’s what we thought when she was 3 and when she was 4 but we started to get more concerned as the year passed particularly because she did not LIKE writing and drawing.

After hearing that report we have focused more on encouraging her to draw and write as much as possible and found ways to make it fun! Practice makes perfect and handwriting would only improve with practice.

Here are some of the things we are doing:

1) We have Lady C write birthday cards for all of her friend’s birthday parties. ALL. She LOVES this and now she looks forward to drawing and is a pro and writing her “To: and From:” greetings. We (un)fortunately go to a lot of kid parties so this happens often. We also encourage her to write and draw stories because her imagination is wild and she always has a good story in her.

2) We encourage her to write on an easel. Holding a writing instrument upright forces a better grip because of the position of the arm.

3) We actually went back to cursed electronic device and got an App called Wet.Dry.Try but we have her use a stylus instead of her fingers. The app provides a progress report and makes writing fun and a game for kids.

4) And this summer we went a step further, we enrolled her in an occupational therapy gym called SPOTS in Brooklyn. We realized that we were holding her back because of our tough time trying to teach her how to write and in 6 weeks of attending she has come around sooooo much. We are so grateful to her Occupational Therapist, Barbara and we made Barbara a card to thank her as well. Lady C looks forward to occupational therapy and is sad that she will be leaving soon.

So – that’s our story. Our kid is not perfect (ha!). Two right handed parents… one left handed kid!

Any other righties raising lefties??? Any lefties raised by righties???

Let us know some tools you have used to improve handwriting!

Daddy Problems #45: Two girls, one dad, and a bathroom dilemma

I hang out with my girls without their mother all the time dating all the way back to when there was only ONE girl! Back then I had to figure out how to take Lady C to the bathroom. I figured out the technique for taking her to men’s room and making sure she didn’t touch anything in those disgusting facilities.  However, going to the bathroom myself was a horse of a different color. I am hyper sensitive about my daughters seeing my genitalia. Mom and Lady C take showers together and they have all the same bits and pieces. I wasn’t ready to have a discussion about why daddy has a penis and she and mommy don’t. So going to the bathroom coupled that need for modesty with the need to stay sanitized. Figured out the whole get a stall, turn the kid around, and do your business. Fast forward 3 years and now there are TWO OF THEM! I hadn’t had an occasion to figure out relieving myself yet. Either I have been close to home or just held it until I was around more people. However, I had an incident recently and had to pee with two girls in tow, one of which is the busiest 15 month old EVER! I needed some advice so I went to the modern day oracle: Facebook! The answers were helpful, hilarious, and thought provoking. Observe:

Shima G. You have to use a stall, keep them sequestered, and tell them not to touch anything. When Rhys was small, I would keep her strapped to me while I used it. Now, she knows…she even says, “No toca nada!” (our specific bathroom command) whenever we enter a public restroom.

Whitney PWhat Shima said too. I put the fear of God in mine about touching stuff in the bathroom. My daughter (5) gets it, but my three year old…I turned my back to help my daughter and he was literally rolling on the floor. I wanted to strip him and hose him down right there. Luckily it was relatively clean, but still…*shudders*

Derek F. Brooklyn usually has plenty of savory characters showering in one of the bathroom sinks. Have one of them hold the toddler…wait…..

Vinny J. Step one: Don’t miss.

The comments made me laugh (which didn’t help on a full bladder) and some were helpful. I was going to put Lady H on my shoulder and tell Lady C to turn around in the stall. Luckily, I found a hidden family bathroom in the mall and was able to roll Lady H in her stroller and make sure Lady C was in the corner. The last bit about this experience was some of the unexpected backlash about the fact that women navigate these issues all the time and don’t need to ask for help. I think there is not enough credit given to moms and all of the amazing multitasking superhuman tasks that they perform. However, it’s a dangerous slippery slope when we diminish the efforts of a man trying to be active in their child’s life. There are far less resources for involved fathers than there are for moms. Cut us some slack. Telling us that women can do that with one hand tied behind their back, while jumping double dutch, as you’re booking the family vacation on line, and changing a screaming baby’s diaper. We get it. We’re trying. We’ll never be moms!

Hope you enjoyed my peril. Stay tuned for more Daddy Problems! Next up, the play date!

 

Hayden

Incest, Gay Marriage and Arranged Marriage: Convo With A Five Year Old

Lady C: Mommy did you know that girls can marry girls and boys can marry boys?
Aisha: I did know that, where did you learn that?
Lady C: Pre-K… I can’t remember which classmate. So that means I can marry a girl if I want to?
Aisha: You sure could. You should marry someone you love.
Lady C: Great, so does that mean we can get married?
Aisha: No… you can’t marry a member of your family.
Lady C: So I can’t marry grandma either?
Aisha: Nope.
Lady C: Fine. I will marry a boy. Mom, can you find me a nice boy to marry some day? I don’t think I will be able to find a boy to marry.
Aisha: I sure will. That would be my pleasure.
Lady C: You’re the best mom.

 

And…. that was a conversation I had with Lady C the other night out of the blue. Lately she is quite intrigued with family compositions and particularly intrigued by gay and lesbian families. I was not surprised that she mentioned she learned about different families in her Pre-K class because her school embraces diversity in all respects including family composition.

It’s an interesting discussion though and layered because first she starts with the idea of marrying someone of the same sex. But when I told her she should marry someone she loves, her mind immediately went to family which I thought was ADORABLE!! That’s what love is to her… family. Best part though, her asking me to find her a husband – ha! I’m keeping this blog forever so that when she brings home that person that I don’t approve of when she’s 22 I can tell her that I have right of refusal… I hope she buys that.

Anyone else having conversations with their little ones about family composition and marriage? What would you say if your child asks if they can marry someone of the same sex. Are you ready to have that conversation?