Sunday, November 22, 2009

She's Afraid She'll Look Like a Nerd

She asked me to drive her to school tomorrow morning, it was beginning to rain. I said sure and jokingly added, unless the sun is out. Well the sun came out and she was still asking for a ride and now she said says she doesn't have enough time to get ready.

"Honey, you have an hour and half before school starts." She said it still wasn't enough and from then it all started to go down hill.

Tears, frustration, and after she talked a girlfriend into getting her parents to pick her up for school her mom got involved and it got worse. My wife, her mom, doesn't like to put anyone else out and she got really triggered with our daughter doing this. I then actually had to help set some boundaries for my wife because she was so angry. Whew...

Messy morning, I felt manipulated and angry. My daughter has a way of creating things like this. I am trying to understand her. She won't ride her bike all the way to school because she's afraid she'll look like a nerd. Big sigh....

She's still responsible to get to school on time, she can take the bus, walk, ride her bike to a friends house and then walk. We live on a small island off the coast of Oakland CA. It's easy to get around and time for her to be able to do this on her own - 9th grade. Hum.... teen world, seeing the fine line between support, holding the line, being my word, and compassion.

Blessings to us all!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Their Faces Each Lite Up By Their Phones

The 3 teenager girls in high heels and fancy dresses sat in the back of my dark truck, their faces each lite up by their phones. It was 10:30 at night. I was driving them home from their first homecoming dance as 9th graders. My daughter sat in the front seat beside me. I unfortunately had to leave my dog home in bed with my wife after I got the call to come pick the girls, and after we hit the pause button on the laptop watching Weeds.

All day long there were teenage girls here at the house, it actually started Friday night for the first sleep over. No wait... it started around 3pm when I picked RG up and took her to get her hair recolored back to her original color, closer to blond (which didn't really work and cost too much - oh well).

Hum... I am embarrassed to say that I blew it, I dropped the ball, totally forgot that I was suppose to pick up another kid, not mine, at another school at take her home. Crap, my younger kid is in a play (two plays), I wasn't suppose to pick her up until 6:30, with a burrito in hand and take her to another play practice and then pick her up at 9:30 and bring her home - big day yes we all know. But I totally forgot about another kid, sorry!

So yesterday was filled with teenage girls, a very messy room that I asked more than once to be cleaned up, bed made, never happened. I let it go. I did make them clean up the kitchen and living room for mom (the wife) who was in one of those "everything is a mess" modes and we all know to take note and make sure it's clean before she comes home again to keep away from the wrath of menopause.

I told the teens to "get outside, it's a beautiful day" more than once, that didn't happen so I let that go too. They stayed inside all day long and did their girl stuff. I on the other hand go out into the yard and did some of my favorite things - getting dirty in the yard and work with my hands. I laid the outer ring of bricks around our fire pit. And then I took off to explore the base (decomissioned naval air base) with my camera and hit the gym for a hot tub!

When I came home the girls were ready, my wife helping out for while hours, bless her. And I had the unique pleasure of driving them both ways to their first homecoming dance.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

IT'S NOT ABOUT BEING LATE, it's about being your word

She had already called several times, pushing the time to return back and back. I said, "be back before 8pm or there will be consequences, understand?" Yes, yes, yes... and go figure, she comes in 6 minutes after... of course with excuses. I took her iphone from her for a week - harsh!

Next night, my wife is out of town, I need to be out for the night, I need the same girl as above to be home by 5pm so her younger sister won't be home alone for long. Things change, I move the time to 5:30 and it's agreed upon. At 5:45 I call home, she's not there. I call again at 6pm and find her there. Dudette, what's up? You just got your phone taken away from you for a week for not being your word and out of integrity. I was bummed, I was going to ground her more, no sleep overs next weekend, but realized I would give her an option, the previous ground or write a paper and make a piece of art about being your word and keeping commitments - by next weekend. She picked the later.

I was away for the weekend. I was with 6 men, a young man (15), and a dog. We were working with the young man, male initiation stuff. I'll write about it later, really cool shit! Honored to be part of it all.

Sunday night, I am talking to my young woman (14) and I remember something... what was it? Oh, the paper and artwork. Where is it? Hum... forgot... when you finish them you can have your phone back again! Oh she hated that, hated me, but as she says, she can only stay mad at me for about 10 minutes. She sat down and wrote me a 9 page paper, first starting out about the topic and then quickly going into a cool intimate honest piece about her truth, about her story, and her feeling about it all. That's pretty good! She was afraid she would hurt my feelings and I was thrilled she got into it so much. It was a good connection for us.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wild Animals and the Truth

I was visiting a friend and her daughter was going to go on a camp out the next day. Her teacher told them that there were wild animals around as a way to get them excited, this freaked her out and she couldn't sleep. I told her that I could help her if she wanted it, she said yes.

"The truth is that at this moment, you are safe. You are home with your family and that at this moment everything was OK. This is really all there is, now, and you are safe and sound. You can even go back to bed and now think about other things that you'd like to think about, or try what I do right before bed is to not think about anything. Tomorrow you will be around many adults and our job is to keep you safe and keep the wild animals away so even tomorrow you'll be safe."

This seemed to work for she went to bed and that was the last peep we heard from her.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Foolish King Dad

Somethings just go the way they go. We dad's try to come off all knowing, wise, perfect, and sometimes we are just fools, still kings, but we rule from a different place. It's a place of being able to be silly, able to act in ways that our kids roll their eyes and wish were some other place, not necessarily have another dad, just wish he wasn't there then, embarrassing them.

In the short term it's foolish, and in the long term it's wise. The wise comes from the ability to still be young in one's soul, and to become old, to become an elder, to be able to still be in touch with your inner kid is way powerful. You'll notice that your kids will freak while the other kids look at you in a silent by amazed way, like that's so cool, I wish my dad was like that. You help wake them up, keep them on their toes, you can see it in their eyes, they are interested, curious... what's this dad doing being so alive?

I once heard Michael Meade say that we need our elders to be fully alive, dangerous, crazy, full of spirit. Without this, our youth looks at the old folks and say, "that is that last thing I ever want to be like - so why live long, what's the use?" But when a youth looks at someone alive as an elder, they say, "oh I get it, I want to be like that when I grow up!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's a Wrench?

The Art of Being a Dad
book on sale @

The summer has passed quickly. My wife and I were just talking about how exhausting it was when the kids were little. We are both freelancers and work at home, during the summer school is out and that meant more kid care for us to do, which also meant less focused time with work. Luckily for me I am a night owl and would often find myself happily back in my studio after the girls and my wife were asleep. Ah..... quiet, focus, uninterrupted time and space.

Now the youngest starts middle school and the oldest enter high school next week.

We got a ping pong table. It opens up and we use it on the side deck, it's new and a fun family thing. My oldest thought she'd open it up by herself and yes, it rolled over and the bottom wood piece snapped in half. No one was hurt, no large window doors smashed, but boy, was she freaked out! I was glad that no one got hurt.

Hum.... as I looked it over and we took it apart together, I saw what needed to be fixed. I even found some of the ping pong box crate wood that would be a perfect match. So I did the cool dad thing, we pulled out the skill saw, drill, hammer, and tape measure. I asked her to get a wrench from my tool box and she smiled and said, "what's a wrench?" That's so cool, my 14 year old doesn't know what a wrench is and I get to show her (along with showing her the difference between a Phillips-head screw driver and a common).

I gave her ear plugs and eye protection. I showed her how to do everything but made her do everything herself, and we worked together, it very satisfying for a dad. First time with a skill saw in her hands, and it was the skill saw that my dad bought me years ago. I had her practice 5 times before she said she was ready to make the final cut, and she did, and it was good enough to call perfect!

All this took place while the younger daughter was raking leaves and filling the green bin. She's been known to never get outside during the day so I lean into this and get her sorry butt outside and put her to work. She doesn't like it at first, she tries to take breaks that would lead into hours if I didn't keep calling her back. But in the end it's really good family energy. I feel good, I know the kids feel empowered, useful, connected, doing new things, and mom likes it when she returns and finds out that we also totally cleaned the frig!

What's a Wrench?

I told her that one of my jobs is to show her how tools work and that when she goes to college she'll get a tool box from me!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

You're Suppose To Look Good, But There Are No Mirrors

Last weekend was an annual family/community campout that my family has been going to for years. It's connected to a larger men's group that I belong to ( This year was the biggest one so far, around 150 men, women, kids, dogs, babies, grandparents, singles... all tent camped right on the Russian River in Northern CA.

This year was the biggest gathering of teens I have seen - that's a good sign of family and community. My oldest daughter (14) said, "I hate camping, you're suppose to look good, but there are no mirrors." I love that!

I drove up with 3 girls (the other girl is 15 and has been with our family in many way for years). The ride was for a few hours, the girls were in the back seat of my truck, my dog rode up front with me. My wife was coming up next day.

I had been working for hours packing and getting ready. I do a lot for the camp out - firewood, music, movies, meditations, meals, performance. The girls were singing in a way that was just driving me nuts - I put in my ear plugs - that helped a little. When we got to the site the older girls wanted me to drop them off at the bathroom so they could put on their make-up. Camping!

Packing up earlier, as I mentioned I had lots to do. I worked on enrolling the kids to help. I noticed my younger daughter was just laying on the couch. Part of me couldn't believe that she was doing this, I felt angry and frustrated but then I realized that she needed a job, she needed to be told what to do, invited in. I found her a project and she slowly moved into it and I was grateful and thanked her for helping. Someone later mentioned kids close down and pull back if they don't feel connected.

At the camp out, we arrived a day early because we can, and it's nice and quiet. But there I was, burnt out, and with 3 girls. Hum.... I actually wanted to be alone. We walked into town at night to have dinner, the 4 of us, and then again in the morning, the 4 of us, and I found myself not wanting to be with just them. I was grateful when more people showed up and more kids were hanging out and my kids were gone and I knew they were taken care of - that's community!

My time was getting some alone time on the river with 2 men, we each were in kayaks for over 2 hours - ah...... after that I was good to go and had a fantastic time.

Next day the kids both left for 2 weeks of circus summer camp. Nice break, first time ever that the house this empty for this long.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seven Girls in Hawaii

Yes, two women - my wife and one of her best friends, and 5 girls between the age of 11-14, and not me! I am home alone for 2 weeks with my dog and no girls. Don't get me wrong, I like girls and women, but 7 (seven) for two weeks had me staying home working and loving this.

What has been cool is that I have claimed the entire house and yard as my studio. It's what I would do if I lived alone. I don't need a dinning room table, I need a larger work table, and I need another one in the living room.

I haven't really miss my girls. I think of them often and in this wonderful world of technology, all 3 of my girls have cell phones. My oldest kid has been sending me photos of the stray cats from her iPhone!

Last week, after talking it over with my wife, we decided to get our youngest kid a cell phone. She was really wanting one so much that she did a killer presentation on why she should get one and sooner than we said she could. "Very sweet but no! Not until the summer is over and yes you do get one when you go to your new middle school at the downtown Oakland School of the Art (in acting)."

But she did so good in school, last report card from elementary school was straight 4's (A). That was her first time, and she's good kid, and so it being my idea, I told her we were going to get her a phone now (she squeeeeeellllled - funny how kids tell you they LOVE you when they are getting something they really like!).

The cool dad/daughter cool thing was that on the drive to the store I hit something on the freeway (hiding around a curve) that totally blew out my back truck tire. I was able to pull off, we were safe, and WE changed the tire together in minutes!

I have been teaching the girls how to drive on a decommissioned Naval Air Base near our house since they have been babies. Recently we were out and someone was driving (little one on my lap - she's not so little these days) and the older one can drive by herself. We hit something hidden again and the metal made a click-click-click sound. When I got out to look I could heard the air leaving the tire. So I said, "perfect - your first changing tire experience." And we did it together. I made them help and we all got our hands dirty!

That's a real time dad teaching experience which I feel really good about.

love dad

PS: Both my dad book and chalk drawing book are on the 'best seller" list @ Best Seller

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Letter to My Youngest Daughter

A few days ago I triggered after I asked my kid to help out in the morning, clean up, move into action, we all needed her help. She basically said "no, I only go at one speed." This is the letter I wrote her later. She still said she only had one speed, I said that didn't sound like she had much choice, no freedom there. I wonder where she learned that?

Darn it it Zoe, I feel angry! After I dropped off RG I realized I was feeling angry about how the morning went, asking you for kitchen help and how I felt you blew me off. In the kitchen, after you said you were only going to move at one pace, after I had asked you for the 2nd time, I closed down and withdrew from being in relationship with you.

That’s not what I want. I want to be connected with you and feel like we are a team together, you and me, and also all of us as family in the house.
If it were me, as a kid, when a parent asked for help & support, asked me to jump in and do the chores that were mine to do, I’d move into action and double time it to get the jobs done. Why?, to show my support for others, because I could do that, and because I know it would be good for everyone. That’s me. I do that with your mom, when she asks, I jump in and support her. I know how to be proactive and ask her what’s the best way I can support her now – she loves that. She feels supported and that’s important for her, maybe the most important thing. For her it shows that she is loved. I didn’t feel supported by you this morning.

You came back into the kitchen with a “dad help dishwasher card.” You said you would do the sink and top, you I could do the dishwashers. You gave me more work than you, AND you left without doing anything, saying there wasn’t time. You’re mom’s class was coming in, house cleaners coming later, I then did all the dishes.
I want to live in a house where everyone puts good energy into the family, into supporting the inner workings of the house so that everyone feels supported and connected.

I invite you, to be more proactive. I encourage you to be able to move at several different paces when you need to. I want to be better at expressing my anger, not at you, just express it as me, as your dad, as a parent when it’s appropriate. We could talk negative sanctions - forfeit your allowance, take away listening to books, reading books, TV, computer - for a week or until your are ready to contribute house work wise?

Still love you, you are a great kid, and come on…. There are things to fight me on but not this one. What did it serve you this morning? Did you get what you wanted?



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And You Don't Even Need to Go Far

My wife, Laurie Wagner is a writer. Years ago she wrote a piece about how dads have to be more creative because they just couldn't pull out a breast and feed their baby and put them to sleep. She wrote about how I'd take the kids out into the front yard to explore and how one day I found a salamander.

Well I found another salamander recently. It brought back memories about that long journey, those long days and nights with really little people, dependent on their parents for just about everything. Now I leave my 11 year old at the cafe, after we ordered, after I told the waitress that I was leaving and where I was going and that I would be back soon (Longs), after I asked my daughter if she'd like to come with me or stay, after she said she wanted to stay and wished she'd brought her book, after she said yes to the waitress who offered her crayons and paper to color with.

We then went to the movies and saw UP. Sweet story of an elderly man and a young boy on an adventure. Well done.

My wife left town again for 3 days to go to Colorado to see her best friend's book signing. Lisa Jones just published her first book, Broken.

That leaves me solo dad. My older girl has been away on a 4 day sleepover 8th grade field trip so the house has been pretty quiet since the younger one is a bookworm and rereading the 3rd or 4th Twilight book for the second time - its at least 2 in. thick.

house taken from front yard

Salamanders in the front yard, the word is an amazing place and you don't even have to go far.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Welcome to Your Front Yard

I was telling and friend (also dad of two little kids) about my youngest daughter. A few months ago I noticed that she was staying inside a lot. Reading big thick fantasy books, totally getting lost in them, eating them up, hanging out in bed, for toooo long.

I was home alone with her on the weekend and noticed this happening and something felt off, something bugged me about it. It occurred to me that one of my jobs as a dad was to get her outside and connected to nature. I grew up in rural PA where we basically lived outside and only came in to eat and sleep, other than that it was the woods and unlimited adventures.

I basically forced her outside. The first thing I noticed was that she was looking into the corners of the yard. I had the hunch and ask if she was afraid there might be "insects" out there, she said yes. Then I said, "you don't know what to do in your own front yard do you?" and she answered "no."

I couldn't believe that this was my kid. Did I go wrong somewhere? Maybe it was my wife's fault (ha!). How did I get a kid who didn't know how to be in here own yard? I put into action a new house rule - 15 minutes a day outside in your own yard. I could be with her at times but it wasn't about me entertaining her, it was about her getting to know her own yard and figuring out what to do all by herself.

At first she was not a happy camper. But with TV, computer games, email, and even reading coming only available after her 15 minutes, she let down her defenses and went out. Taking the dog with her was a good idea, non-human company.

I sense it was a good call on my part. My wife wouldn't of ever noticed it or thought it important, but since I did she went along with the plan.

Welcome to Your Front Yard.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Uncomfortable About Being Uncomfortable

boy I meet at a chalk drawing festival

I wonder what it would be like to have a son? I have 2 girls, now 11 and almost 14. I was walking with a young teenage boy from our car pool the other day. My teenage girl is cool, she really is, but this young man was also cool, in a guy way. I even told he that I wondered what it would be like to have a son, he said it would be cool!

There is a family vacation in Hawaii happening in June. I wasn't going to go because of work but things have changed and it looks like I am going to go. But going to Hawaii for almost 2 weeks with SIX girls is.... daunting. One girl is my wife, the others are my kid's friends. That would be three 5th graders and two 8th graders just starting summer break. But being a DAD and HUSBAND I figured I should go, make sure everyone is safe and sound before I take off on numerous adventures exploring and not being around so many girls.

Last Sat. night was a sleepover for the teenagers. Two other girls came over who are...shy. I know that teenagers are "uncomfortable about being uncomfortable." My daughter sat down and mentioned that the silence was uncomfortable so I started to talk about a cool creative BMW ad I'd seen at the movies, The Art of Driving. My daughter just started to laugh, almost uncontrollably - hum... now I felt uncomfortable, how odd. She later said she didn't even know why.

And then there are the new shoes and dresses for elementary and middle school graduations. Where is my dog and truck?

I do hang out with lots of men and several of us are beginning to support events that young men are doing - that will be good medicine for this man with no boys.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What wasn't working? Me daily reminding the kids to practice their guitar, for if I didn't, they wouldn't. I was tired of this, reminding them everyday, I was done. I wanted to empower them to do it for themselves. This is what we agreed on.

New Deal: They would practice 6 x 15 minutes/week. They could do 15 minutes a day or they could do an hour and 1/2 at one time - one day. If they completed this new agreement, they could have their technology the next week - ipods, computers (for anything other than homework), TV, and cell phone (the older one).

I have been a solo day for really the last 6 weeks. My wife's dad passed away and she's been in LA for weeks. And the time she was here, before he passed she wasn't really here, so I picked up all the kids stuff I could so she could do what she needed to.

Well guess how the first week of the experiment went? No one practiced at all! Ha.... that's crazy! SO they lost their privileges for the week.

SO this week - so far. The younger one will probably make it. The older one hasn't practiced once - can you believe that, and she's the cell phone facebook myspace email socialite. Go figure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Silence & Boundaries after 2500 Miles

I am being a solo dad for about two weeks while my wife is in LA supporting her family after her father passed away.

Sat. AM I drove back from LA for the 4th time in a month - the kids and I figured that combined was about 36 hours of driving - oh my back. Luckily we had a book on tape that caught our attention - The Nation by Terry Pratchett. A young adult story about 2 kids from different worlds lost on an island together.

The drive is long and long and long, it's basically 5 1/2 hours @ 75mph on a straight, straight, straight road that goes through the central valley of California. I got home and eventually made it to the gym's hot tub, a place where I know God lives, it's one of my churches. Back at home, the older kid took of for a sleep-over and I just crashed on a chair writing in my journal about the last few days, the memorial service, all the people who showed up. At the service alone there was close to 1000 people giving their respect.

An interesting note about my father-in-law. He was a world-giver and always supported the under-dog in other cultures and politics. He was also a difficult man to get close to and his immediate family felt this the most. By getting sick and then dying, he came home in a way that they had always wanted, his children bonded in ways they always wanted, and there was a great deal of deep healing for everyone. It was truly a beautiful thing.

Back to Sat. night and being exhausted. My younger daughter wanted to watch a movie, get on the computer, do something with me. I sensed she wanted to be distracted. I told her I was so tired I was just going to write and be quiet and if she wanted to read, draw, she was welcomed to hang out with me. I didn't think she needed a movie or computer, I sensed otherwise. She didn't like this at all and got upset.

Her god-father had recently given her a bag of presents, inside were a new unopened deck of cards called Self-Care Cards by Cheryl Richardson. She didn't want them and I kept em. They were on the table, I opened them up and before I shuffled them I fanned them out in my hands and invited my daughter to pick one.

She picked SILENCE. It read, "Rest your mind. Silence is good self-care." She instantly said, " I don't like this card!" We picked a few more cards, one for mom, her sister, me, and one for us. I picked TENDERNESS. It read, "Speak gently to yourself. Cherish the child within." The card we picked together was BOUNDARIES. It read, " Set boundaries. Protect your precious time and energy."

The next hour or so was pretty messed up. My daughter would just not drop in, she got more and more desperate to have something external help her escape. I felt it, felt her pain, and didn't have it in me to fix her. I kept inviting her to join me on the couch. She tried, cried, begged, called mom in LA. I kept clear, healthy boundaries. I even gave myself a timeout so I wouldn't get triggered and get angry. In the end she fell asleep early laying on the couch, laying on the dog. That was good for everyone.

I was glad I let her work it through. It was very difficult to not get triggered, or to give in when my truth was that I was exhausted and if I did, it would of been a lie, or if I just let her disappear into TV or a TV show on the computer, it would of been a cop-out.

The Art of Being A Dad

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Homage to my Dad-in-Law

Walter (Wally) Nathan Marks II passed over yesterday from cancer, surrounded by his loving family. It was a beautiful and amazing experience for me, my wife (his oldest kid), and my girls. He gave a lot for the world and always supported the underdog. He was also a reclusive man who enjoyed a piano and many newspapers.

Monday morning I drove home with one kid (the other had a different spring break week). We left at 1am, just happened that way, I had planned to sleep but my body had another idea. 5 1/2 hours later we arrived in the Bay Area from LA. My older daughter stayed at her grandparent's house where we had all been camping out. Wally had slipped into a coma several days ago.

The amazing thing was that his 50th wedding anniversary. We had a beautiful ceremony and then Wally passed on the next day. The cool thing was that my oldest kid (almost 14) wanted to be there, wanted to be in the room, she kept coming back in while we all took turns sitting with him. She even spent time with him alone.

I talked to her yesterday. She said that she, and everyone else were in the room as he took his last breath. She said she later touched him, "I've never touched a dead person, and it was my grandfather!" I told her what she had just learned over the last week was equal to a college education - and it could only be learned by her showing up in the way that she did!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Making Fires and Using Sharp Tools

For the last 14 years, I have been in dad mode daily. I have co-parented as a freelance artist who is married to a freelance writer. I worked many late nights as everyone was sleeping, and in the early days changed diapers and got the baby bottles warmed to feed the little people.

This weekend my wife was away visiting her father who is passing away from cancer - blessings to everyone! I stayed home with the kids who are now basically teenagers - 2 girls. I have been aware that my time as dad is coming to a close. I should say a certain phase of my being a dad is ending. The best way to describe it is where the girls are beginning to go/grow. They are moving into a place where dad's don't go, where dad's can't go, they are going into the world of young women.

I am turning them over to their mom, to the social and hormone world of girls, shopping, fashion, bras, emotions, and make-up.

I will still and always be dad.

Over the weekend I helped them start a fire and use sharp tools. The younger one wanted to make a fire outside in our fire pit - sure go for it! She started to ask questions, someone recently called them "dumb" questions. How much wood, how much paper, etc... She has made plenty of fires. I invited her to answer these questions for herself through direct experience. She doesn't like when I do this but I know I will do her a dis-service if I tell her step by step how to do it. I was near by and did offer my suggestions when I saw that it would benefit her and the learning process and her becoming independant, confident, and self reliant.

The older one was working on a science project. I set her up with an matte knife, steel ruler, cardboard, and gave her a cutting careful with a sharp tool lesson and let her go at it. Very cool.

I am also asking them to each make a meal per week, and check this out.... my new idea of not having to remind them "every day" to practice their guitar. Over the week they have 6 slots of 15 minutes to practice to fill up. If they do that they can use technology next week (computers, ipods, ect..), if not, you get the picture. This week is the trail, so far they have failed miserably.

"The Art of Being A Dad"
130 Tips, Tools, Tricks of the Trade

1. Whole Start. Before you conceive or soon afterwards, get out into nature by yourself. Spend some time alone, take a road trip, a walk. Imagine that you are taking care of business and connecting with something deeper, wider, and greater than yourself. Ask the powers that be to have healthy kids, ask to be a great dad, ask for help because you will definitely need it later.

2. Celebrate becoming a dad. Do something special for yourself to celebrate becoming a dad. Use the time when baby is inside mom in a significant way. It may appear that all the work is happening inside mom while she is pregnant, but there is a great deal happening inside of you too.

3. Feel connected. Do something to help you feel connected to your baby while they are still in mom’s belly. I lit a candle and kept one burning the entire time of our pregnancy as a way for me to symbolically hold the light for my baby and feel connected.

4. Be the ground at the birth. Both mom and baby need you to be fully present during the birth. Breathe slowly, feel your feet on the floor, keep your eyes open, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

5. Don’t take it personally. You may feel ignored or not needed during the intensity of labor. Trust that everyone is doing what they need to do and your job is to support and do what your partner needs you to do.

6. Who are they? If you pay attention as your child is born you may be able to get a sense of who they are. And any good stories you gather then you will be able to tell to your kids for the rest of their lives.

7. Not about you. Helpful hint: The next few years are NOT going to be about you. Most of the core bonding happens with mom and baby. Your time will come later when it’s you that they want and need.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Honoring Our Dads

My wife's father is very sick with cancer, it's sad and real. I honor him and his journey. I honor him for being a dad to 4 kids, one being his older daughter, my wife. It is difficult to see her struggling in how to be with all of this. My job is to be solid, take care of the home fort while she goes to visit and be with him.

My dad is also not well. So I bless these men who have been so important in our lives. One day it will be my turn to move on.

To life - To Death!

me, my dad and his dad.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Men, Women, and Kids

I stay up late and work at home. The place is quiet, I can focus and work uninterrupted for hours, I love that. Today is Weds., it my dad day, meaning mom is out of here, all day.

I just did a weekend workshop with around 170 men. Different men; biker dudes, guys out of prison on parole, young guys out of gangs, business men, artists, and lots of contractors - certainly an interesting mix. It was an intense and wonderful weekend, changed my life in more ways than I expected. Many things about relationship with women, and being men.

I really got to look at the term "the feminized male" which is basically a man who was raised by women who missed out on being raised by a man - big difference. I have some of that but have done much personal work that I am pretty balanced and certainly able and enjoy hanging with many men of all types.

I was sleeping in this morning, after I had gotten my youngest girl up to shower and told her she's on her own for breakfast and making her lunch (which is usual on dad day), and that she should wake me up before she leaves. Her older sister is in bed sick and staying home today. Mom comes in to wake me up, anger in her vioice, triggered by something. She tells me that my daughter needs me in the kitchen.... to just to be with her.

Hum... when I check in with my daughter and we talk, she said mom "put words into her mouth." She was actually fine and doing what she was asked and needed to do. She's a moody and sluggish kid in the morning anyway.
I wanted her to experience being independent this morning. Part of my dad teachings.

I learned more for this weekend that women are more emotional and that I can just let them be and not get triggered for trying to correct them - that's a no win situation. To just be empowered and not engage emotionally in those few moments was priceless.

I realize my time is coming to an end in what I can teach my girls. They are becoming full students of my wife and that is none of my business. I do still have a job to be their dad, to teach them things about the world; how to use tools, connect to nature, and learn about men by being an example, for I know the partner they pick (straight or gay) is deeply molded by part of me, who I am, what I do, and how I am being.


Image from The Art of Being A Dad (the first seven years).

Monday, March 9, 2009

One of Those Dad Things We Do

She said, " You take me to all these places thinking I will like them and I don't and I don't like that you do that!" I said, "I hear you, and it's just one of the things that dads do, we hope something might click."

Soon after wards I stopped at a climbing gym in Berkeley, just to take a peek... because it was there. I knew what she was thinking.... another dad thing he'll hope I like. We stayed for awhile, until she was ready to leave, it was longer than either of us thought. Sweet!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dark, Muddy, and Happy

I couldn't help but write again. My girls have a natural tendency to bicker and nag on each other at home - it's a real drag, remember I basically now have young teenage girls. I notice they also have a tendency to stay inside. Maybe it's a girl thing, I think it's also a suburban thing which I feel sad about. I grew up in rural PA and basically was outside as much as possible, there were no street corners or fenced in properties, it was woods and corn fields.

Today is my dad day. Every Weds. (and it's been this way for years) is my day to be dad, and my wife's day to not be mom - for the whole day. Tomorrow I am off, it's a non-dad day for me. So being a king of the house tonight I said let's get out of here, really knowing the dog had been inside also way too much in all this rain.

Nearby is a place where we can let the dog off the leash, let the kids off the leash, it's by water (we live on an island off the coast of Oakland CA). So in the dark the kids made up a game around large rocks and muddy grass. They played for a long time, they got really muddy, they even took off their shoes and socks and kept playing. They were not fighting and I was happy, they were happy, the dog was happy. Sweet

Welcome to Dadville

Hello, finally getting up my dad blog inspired by finally self publishing / on demand my first book,
"The Art of Being A Dad."

I am going to be posting sections of the book over time and also talking, sharing about what it's like now with my two girls 11 and going on 14. Whew....

Stay tuned