Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Last Halloween, my wife, my son and I went trick-or-treating shortly after the sun went down. My son was Iron Man and his costume took a little time to get completely fastened on, but my wife and I got him squared away. The wife was a ballerina and I just threw on an Ahmad Rashad jersey, which is about as much as choose to do at the age of 41 (I'm 42 now) on Halloween.

Since it was Halloween and my wife was taking a little bit longer to get ready than I thought (surprise, surprise) I decided to keep the Halloween-vibe going by putting on Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. I felt like the wife and I had done a great job of exposing our son to MJ's music, and all that goodwill would be more than enough to offset the fear and scariness the video invariably would cause. Plus I felt like showing him this potentially scary video was ok, but if he really was scared and shook, the candy and trick-or-treating experience would brainwash him 100%.

Now if I had been properly using my brain I would have realized that when I first saw the video I was 8 years old, and I literally was laying down on my dad's back alternating between watching the video and burying my head in his back. I loved the song, and I loved MJ but I didn't understand why he a) kept turning into a zombie and b) insisted on dancing and cavorting with the other zombies he literally had just met when he set foot in cemetery with Ola Ray. The whole operation both scared and confused me, and it was shaking the previously rock-solid trust I had in MJ--it feels weird to say that as a 8-year old I trusted MJ, but humor me.

After I watched that video, I took down my Billie Jean and Human Nature posters for a good month, before I finally got over my fear and watched the video three or four times. Using that logic, I had no business showing my 4-year old son the video last year, but I did it anyway. And you know what? It wasn't half bad.

My son watched the video and he didn't flinch, hide or cry. He did ask a million and one questions about zombies, cemeteries, MJ's transformations and why MJ and the monsters vacillated between being friends and enemies. These were all valid questions, and I did my best to answer each and every one of them. Then we went trick-or-treating and everything seemed to be ok. But while we were trick-or-treating, and once we finished, my son was sure to tell me, "Daddy I don't want to watch that again". I said ok.

Fast forward to this past Sunday, when my son started begging me to see the video again. I've been playing the Thriller album a lot lately, and my son has fallen in love with the song, "Thriller"--especially Vincent Price's diabolical rap/laugh combo. I guess hearing the song repeatedly built up my son's confidence, because all day Sunday he asked me to watch, and I reminded my son that he told me one year earlier that he never wanted to see the video again. Right around the time I almost gave in, I realized it was about 30 minutes before his bed time, and I didn't want MJ to be the catalyst for his bad dreams.

The next day, about two hours before his bedtime, I let Nyles watch Thriller. Just like the first time, he didn't move, cry, scream or hide, he just sat there and watched while asking questions. I got up to dance and he ignored me and remained fixated on Michael Jackson and the zombies around him. Then, about two minutes after the video ended, Nyles lightly hit his head against the couch--something he had done countless times in the past few months without crying--and he just started bawling like a baby. First he tried to say his head hurt, but he quickly pivoted and said that he was crying because Michael Jackson had scared him yet again. But this time his shunning of MJ had a little nuance involved. He no longer wanted to see the video, but he clarified that he definitely still wanted to hear the song--and he did all this while crying, which was quite impressive.

Sadly, the bad reactions did not end there. My son woke up about four times between 8 and 11pm, and each time he was crying and whining about what MJ did to him. He made me promise that I wouldn't show him the video and that I'd keep playing the song for him and I agreed. I also told myself (and the wife) that I was an idiot for allowing a 5-year old to swindle me into showing him a video I knew good and goddamn well he could not handle. This incident--combined with last week's incident when I slipped hummus into my son's sandwich instead of mayo/mustard which caused him to vomit and the teacher had to call me to come get him--means that my Dad-of-the-year award is in peril.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

My son Nyles has reached that phase where he test his limits as a five year old. He's been watching the kids he went to summer camp with, he's been to some parties where he's witnessed other parent-to-kid interactions, and now he's peppered in what he's learned after one week of kindergarten. I was informed that this phase was coming by other parents, so in theory I should have been fully prepared for whatever he attempted to throw my way. But I still managed to let that little mfer get under my skin--especially this past Sunday.

Nyles went to a birthday party on Sunday morning, and that party was at a gym where they allowed the kids to run, jump, tumble, roll and hit heavy bags. It was a two-hour party and he burned an insane amount of energy which always makes parents happy because it leads to an equally as insane nap. At the conclusion of the party, they gave the kids pizza, cake, a cape and an accompanying mask. Parties like this did not exist when I was a youngster.

My son devoured the pizza and the cake, but his favorite parting gifts were the mask and cape. He wore them home, he wore them before and after swim lessons, and he basically kept them on right up until bedtime. If I had allowed him to wear the cape/mask combo in the shower, he would have tried to pull that off as well. Unfortunately, while he had on the cape and mask, he ran, jumped and stomped all over the damn house. A couple of times he even mimicked a superhero by trying to fly--and given that he was wearing a superhero's uniform, he was certainly well within his right. But not really.

After the seventh time of asking him to stop running, jumping and superheroing, I got in his face and raised my voice a bit. I forcefully asked him to keep his butt still and respect the house rules, or I'd take the cape and mask. I felt pretty good about myself and based on the sad, puppy dog look on Nyles's face, I think he got the message. Then I looked over to the wife, and she was laughing at me. Then I looked back at Nyles and I realized I was attempting to discipline this child while he was still wearing the ridiculous cape and mask. The following conversation ensued:

Me: I don't know what the f**k I think I'm doing trying to yell at him with a cape and mask on

The Wife: I was going to say, you look completely ridiculous right now, there's no way he's listening

Me (shooting a stern look at Nyles): He better be listening

The Wife (more laughter): Yeah I don't think so buddy

The lesson here? Before you discipline your kids, remove their superhero costumes. This blog would have been funnier if I recorded video of this bless-ed event, but somehow I doubt that my stern lecture to my son would have carried weight if I had a camera in my hand while my son was running around looking like a midget Batman. Just a hunch.

And my how times have changed in this blog over the years. I used to blog about women, masturbation, exercise and inane observations. Now the blog is kid-dominant, which combined with my extended periods of dormancy, have led to a reduced readership. I thank all five of you for continuing to humor me.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I told myself I was not going to cry today. Yes it was my son's first day of kindergarten, but this was the same school he attended last year, so I felt like my emotions would be in check thanks to the familiarity. Not only that, he had gotten on my nerves so damn bad earlier that morning, that I was looking forward to dropping his ass off. Even when we stepped into the classroom, the teacher asked Nyles if he wanted breakfast and he got a little spicy and said, "Well actually I already ate." My wife and I gave him disapproving looks and the teacher said, "So we say no thank you right?"..smartass kid.

Right before I walked out of the classroom I pulled Nyles to the side, and gave him the be-good-don't-embarrass-yourself-or-your-parents speech, and he kissed me, looked back at me once, and the buried himself among the other students in the classroom. The wife and I walked to the car, and I kept asking her if she was going to cry, and she said she was good. Then I walked to work and she went home, and I didn't take five steps before I started crying. It was not the ugly cry that I did when my son was first born, it was way more classy than that. My eyes filled up, a few tears actually made it down my face, and it didn't help that I was going through a mental montage of Nyles-related thoughts---starting from birth and ending with me dropping him off this morning.

When I got to work and had a chance to fully compose myself, I took a step back to really examine why I cried yet again. Part of it relates to the natural emotional investment we have in our kids--especially as they reach significant milestones. But the bigger part of that emotion is the journey. There was a time when I dropped Nyles off at daycare, and I had to carry him or closely monitor his steps so he wouldn't fall or wander off. And then when he'd get to school/daycare, he wandered around aimlessly not quite understanding how was supposed to function without the safety net of his parents around. He eventually figured it out and thrived like a champ.

Today, my son looked nothing like that shy, unsure kid. He damn near ran to the school without his parents, he knew about 10 kids in his new class, and he was ready to dive in and be a model kindergartner (minus the sassing of the teacher over breakfast). That tiny bit of growth over a 2-3 year span has made me proud and was easily enough to tip over my emotional equilibrium. And I have no regrets...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My father was in town today, and we did our usual routine of going out to lunch alone, and then we came back to my house so he could see his grandson and my wife. His hair is disappearing and significantly more gray, his glasses are thicker and it takes him like 10 minutes to back out of a parking space, but he's still mentally sharp and he looks spry for a 68 year old.

While we were sitting in my living room watching Bad 25 he noticed the commotion going on across the street where the church is located. I let him know that this was Communion weekend at the church, and all kinds of folks were in town, and more importantly, all types of food would be on sale both in and outside of the church. My dad, who doesn't eat chicken, beef or pork, asked the wife and me if they sold fried fish, and we answered in the affirmative. He looked at me and said, "We're stopping by there before I head back to my hotel."

When we stepped into the cafeteria of the church, my father made a beeline to the fried fish. He inspected it with his eyes and made the decision that it was up to snuff and good enough to eat. All he really wanted was a piece of catfish and a piece of whiting, but the ladies at the church made it crystal clear that there were two types of fish "plans". Either he got a sandwich, or a "meal" with two sides. My dad re-stated that he just wanted two pieces of fish and a bit of potato salad, and the staff nicely, but firmly told him that he had two choices: a sandwich or a meal. Dad ordered a whiting and a catfish sandwich, asked them to hold the bread, and then asked for cabbage and potato salad. Everybody laughed....

After that minor standoff, these old church ladies shifted into flirtation/caretaker mode with my dad. They said he looked too young to have a 42-year old son, they said he looked like he needed to eat more, and they added a piece of cornbread when technically he had already exceeded the side dish limit. They ended every sentence with "baby", they told my dad and I to have a bless-ed evening, and we walked out of the cafeteria.

As soon as we walked out, dad told me a story about how he used to go to his mom's church on the weekends--not because he wanted to hear the word of God--but to get him a plate of fried fish and sides to devour with his friends. He told me the church ladies managed to be polite, motherly and condescending all at the same time, and he appreciated every bit of it. Then he admitted to me that he missed his mother, but those women in the church today were the closest thing to a mother that he'd felt since she died in 2004. Neither of us shed tears, but it was definitely a tender moment.

What's the lesson here? Sometimes, you need the special TLC power of an old(er) black woman...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I believe I may have alluded to this in another blog post, but the worst part of being a parent (and to be clear, that list is quite short) is attending kiddie birthday parties. I just attended one yesterday, and it felt like I needed a saved bank of small talk to break out among these parents. The topics of discussion ranged from the summer camps our kids attended, church, the upcoming school year, etc. Half these parents were so busy have dick-measuring contests with each other, that they were barely watching their kids---which is something I make it my business to do with an eagle-eye.

Not only does the laser-like focus I have on my child and others allow me to always know what the hell my kid is up to, but it also serves as the perfect misdirection away from chatty ass parents. Yes I know that parents either feel supremely confident or woefully inadequate, and talking that shit out among other parents can be therapeutic. However, if I don't respond or participate in that, you should be able to successfully take the hint and carry your ass to another room or area. This is the social contact we have one another. You have two (three tops) topics to introduce to someone and if they aren't nodding their head, asking following-up questions, or bringing up subjects of their own, you abort the mission and find another victim. But I digress.

The way these kiddie obligations begin is via an evite, which lists all the basics: time, location, length of the party, whether or not a gift is required, and my favorite phrase, "You are welcome to drop off and come back". I never want to attend these parties, but I also am doing my best to win the parent-of-the-year award, which means I have to please my son at all times. So I always RSVP for three(me, the wife and the son) and mentally prepare myself for the torture party

Last week, I received a particularly interesting evite. Allow me to share part of what was written:

Come help us celebrate [name redacted] Birthday as she turns the big 0-5! This party will feature 1.5 hours of structured parkour play, followed by pizza and cake. Parkour (if you don't already know) is basically an obstical course just for kids. It is super fun, and non competitive.

Unfortunatly you must be 4 years old to participate- so while we are happy to have siblings come watch, and eat cake!, they can't join in unlesss they are 4. Parents must sign a waiver upon arrival, but you are welcome to drop off and come back if you'd like!

Now, I am not really the type of person to be mean-spirited for the hell of it, and I definitely don't hold it against folks when they commit an error or two in their writing. I catch errors in my current and past blog posts all the time. It happens and when they are found they must be corrected immediately.

However, if I know I am about to send out an invitation to parents of kindergarten-age kids, I think I am going to pull out all the stops to make sure this message is error free. I know for a fact that the parent who sent this invitation out has a husband and other friends, and there is no reason (aside from no one really caring) that this woman could not have said, "Hey can you read this over for me right quick?".

Instead of taking that extra step, she sent out an invite with misspelled words and misplaced punctuation. I was embarrassed for this woman and I don't even know her that well. I wanted to send an email to her to let her know, but my wife shut that down. So what will end up happening is that all the parents will be giving her the silent, judgmental eye at the party. At that point it won't matter because the parents will care more about their church, the camp their kids attended and putting in their bid for the parent-of-the-year award. But I'll be in the corner somewhere watching my kid trying to keep myself from bringing it up...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

So this past weekend I attended a cookout with my wife, my wife's sister and her sister's husband. They did us a favor by watching our son over the weekend and then Sunday afternoon my wife and I joined them for a little grill action. The weather was perfect, the water was warm, my son was getting himself tired in the hot son, and there were copious amounts of food and spirits.

During the second half of the cookout, my in-laws were nice enough to let me DJ via my Tidal account, but during the first half of the cookout I was subjected to all kinds of trap music. There were all these songs on the radio that I did not recognize and they all had common traits: The beats were fast, the lyrics were mumbled, there were lots of drug references and the shit was wack.

The song I posted to start this blog was one of the ones that everyone at the cookout (including my son) knew except me--and I was mildly embarrassed. I could not figure out if Future was saying Percocet, Mascot, hurt your self or what. The beat was addictive as hell but Future was rapping like someone who was contractually obligated to spit four words at a time, and the last one had to rhyme. There was no attempt to rhyme two words in an eight-word line like Big Daddy Kane or Black Thought would do, and Future seemingly had little to no obligation to flex his rhyming prowess to his peers or fans. He just kept mentioning drugs, his lack of love for ladies (or bitches as he called them), and performing his best minimalist impression over the beat. I felt old and out of touch, but I refused to act like I was a fan of this non-rhyming ass Future character.

Then the second half of the song came on, and rapper-of-the-moment Kendrick Lamar came on and rescued the song. He shunned the four word per line rap style and decided to focus on more cohesive and complex sentences which is one of the things I've always loved about Lamar. After four or five lines, I started to wonder why Future would even let a dude like Kendrick--a dude who could completely upstage him in his sleep--on this remix. It wasn't the best I had ever heard Kendrick rhyme, but compared to Future, who came off like Tito to Kendrick's Michael (Jackson), he was a genius. I didn't love the song, but I decided that it was decent enough to finish listening to while I was in the pool. Then, the inconceivable happened....

When my family and I drove home, I could not get the damn chorus out of my head:

Percocets, molly, Percocets
Percocets, molly, Percocets
Rep the set, gotta rep the set
Chase a check, never chase a bitch
Mask on, fuck it, mask off
Mask on, fuck it, mask off
Percocets, molly, Percocets
Chase a check, never chase a bitch
Don't chase no bitches

I don't even like the damn chorus due to the drug and bitch references, but here I was in the car wishing my son would go to sleep so I could play this song in the car without him hearing the cursing. Then I slowly realized that this is how the kiddies get reeled in to buying and loving the song. In my teens, 20s and very early 30s, rappers reeled me in with rhymes, beats and maybe a good hook (in that order). But these days, the order seems be the beat, the chorus and then the rhymes. I quickly snapped out of the catatonic state I had been suckered into, and I extracted the elements of the song I really liked. First I played the instrumental, then I played the remix again and fast forwarded to Kendrick's rhyme to justify my infatuation with this song.

The second half of the cookout, I made everything right with the world by playing The Jacksons, A Tribe Called Quest, Usher and Michael Jackson. Everyone danced and smiled, and at least for 40 minutes, no one longed for the wack ass musical stylings of Future and anyone who sounded like him. Advantage Rashad

So how old does this blog entry sound? Should I have added a get-off-my-lawn paragraph?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Last night as I watched the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers battle during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, I sat on my couch contemplating whether I wanted to go to work today. As an aside, I am finally able to enjoy the Celtics/Cavs series without thinking what a goddamm shame it is that my beloved Washington Wizards were prematurely (at least to me) eliminated from playoff contention. I haven't written a single solitary word since the playoffs ended, which will change shortly. More on that later. I digress.

Anyway, as I sat on my couch I tried to convince myself that I should go to work. I don't have a hell of a whole lot of leave, there is definitely plenty of work to be done, and given that a three day weekend is upon us, taking off on a Wednesday is just plain greedy. On the other hand, there's nothing more enjoyable to me then taking the day off, grabbing my laptop, and heading to my local coffee shop to catch up on sports articles and my writing. If I could get paid to do just that, I'd be a happy young man.

So that was the choice, go to work and be responsible or stay home and be spontaneous. Needless to say, I am blogging to you live and direct from a coffee shop. I"m a slacker.

The primary reason I am taking today off is so I can watch some WNBA games--specifically the Washington Mystics. Starting with Friday's game against the Chicago Sky, I will be covering home games and I am equally excited and nervous.

The last time I attended a WNBA game was back in 2010 when Marion Jones and President Obama were there. That was a fantastic experience but I was a man on a Marion Jones-interview mission that night. By and large, once the Washington Wizards season is over I have no desire to write anything, let alone cover yet another team. But this season, I felt like I was in a decent groove writing-wise on the Wizards finished their season, and I thought that covering the team would be a great way to maintain that momentum.

So in preparation, I am watching the last two Washington Mystics games, reading some background info on the other team (the Chicago Sky), and trying impersonate a journalist on my day off. I'm nervous but I am also excited about stepping out of my comfort zone to try something that will broaden my horizons and strengthen my writing chops...I hope

Thank you for humoring me as I typed that out..

I dedicate this next song to Nyles, who is learning the days of the week: