Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Earlier in the summer, I stated that I wanted to ride cross-country with my son as a father-son team building exercise. I ran the idea by my son, and he complained that the drive was a bit too long, and he really wasn't interested (aka, it would keep me away from my girlfriend much too long for my liking). Luckily for me, I had a plan B in my pocket, and I proposed to my son that he and I should run the 5k race to prevent cancer. I did the race in 2013, and I thought my son would enjoy it, since he's an avid runner. To sweeten the deal, I told him his girlfriend could run too, and he agreed in a heartbeat.

Not only was this race important because I could spend time with my son and his girl, but cancer prevention is something that remains important to me. My father had a brief bout with prostate cancer, and I had a bit of a brain cancer scare myself last summer, so I am conscious of how important cancer prevention will be for the rest of my life. Granted, I'm not the only one in the world who shares that sentiment, but before those two factors affected my life, I can't say cancer was at the forefront or even the back of my mind. Plus, my son's grandfather (on his mother's side) was just diagnosed with cancer, so I know the disease was floating around in his mind as well. Everything about our participation in this event felt right, and the morning of the event, the perfect weather (60 degrees and sunny) pretty much confirmed that statement.

My goal was to finish under 30 minutes and to defeat my son (17 and an avid runner) and his girl (16 and a member of the track team). I ran the 5k in 25 minutes, and I defeated the both of them by 5 minutes..I did not let them forget that for a good hour after the race. But in the same token as John Thompson says, we laughed, we talked, we ate a healthy post-race meal, we got post-race blood pressure readings, and it was just an overall fulfilling time. I continue to be a proud dad.

Speaking of fathers..Common's dad, Lonnie Lynn (aka Pops) recently passed away. He didn't know me, and I didn't know him, but I did appreciate the appearances he made on his son's recordings. One particular recording--the one I attached below--is especially important to me. The song is called Fatherhood, and I played it in August of 1997 when my son Carlton was born, and I played it again in 2011 when I sent Nyles home. My wife doesn't even like for me to play this song, because it makes me cry every damn time. The words aren't all that moving, although they are poignant, but the thoughts it invokes are powerful to me. My favorite part is at the 2:57 mark:

"You've been a teacher to me, like I have supposed to have been a teacher to you. A lot of people think that parenting and raising a child is a one way street, but you taught me continuous, numerous lessons...and I love you my son"



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I have no problem admitting that my wife is much better at dressing my son than I am. She factors in the morning and afternoon temps, she knows exactly what does and does not fit, she's in tune with what my son likes to wear, and her shoe selection is always perfect. It takes a bit of work to nail all of those seemingly minor details, and send Nyles to school looking like a champ, but my wife pulls it off each and every day. I tend to just grab what I want him to wear (aka what I would wear), and I could give a damn about the weather or Nyles' comfort, and I just basically impose my will on him. Sometimes it works, most times it does not.

When it doesn't work, my wife unapologetically (and discreetly) removes my (un)carefully crafted outfit, instantly comes up with something that's infinitely better than what I've chosen, and sends my son to school looking like a champ. And then to add insult to injury, she will make fun of my outfit through fake-ass, sarcastic conversations with my son:

"Let's see what Dad put on you in today?"
"Oh, I see Dad picked out your little outfit today"
"Now what do we have here? Dad has you wearing pants and it is 98 degrees today, how special is that?"


Yesterday I put my head down, powered through, and decided to come up with an outfit that she could not jump in and replace. The temperature was tricky yesterday (cold in the morning, mild, but not hot in the afternoon) so I knew had more options and more leeway to f**k or luck up--and I"m happy to say the latter happened. I picked out a long-sleeved shirt that was relatively thin, and I picked out khaki shorts just in case the weather warmed up. When the morning forecast turned out to be a bit colder than I thought, I replaced the khaki shorts with khaki pants which really set the outfit off. When my wife saw the outfit Nyles had on, she could not help but notice how handsome he looked. I know I shouldn't blow my own horn, but after nearly three years of trying to pick out bullshit outfits for this little monster, I'm happy to have finally nailed it.

On top of that miracle, my son has recently decided to start wearing his Despicable Me backpack. He loves the movie and all the characters in it, so my wife bought him the matching backpack. Instead of gleefully wearing it to daycare every day, my son would throw a tantrum if either one of us tried to put it on, and he insisted that we wear it, even though the backpack is clearly made for people three feet tall and shorter. So when I leave to drop my son off at daycare, I have to carry my bag and his backpack. Not cool.

But yesterday, on top of wearing an outfit I picked for him, he finally wore the backpack. The daycare staff attributed this to the other kids in his class who have miraculously decided to start wearing their backpacks, but I choose to attribute his change of heart to the outfit. Of course that theory when out the window this morning when my wife picked out his outfit, and he still wore the backpack. My wife is probably reading this and saying to herself, "It is not a contest Rashad!" But it SO is, and I'm losing big time.

Here's the visual evidence of our son's outfit/backpack combo:


Monday, September 15, 2014

Since I had to stay home from work due to this cold kicking my entire ass, I decided to give my father a call. We talked about the Mayweather fight, the NFL, the Atlanta Hawks, and even DC politics. But we spent most of the time discussing Adrian Peterson, and the trouble he's gotten into after beating his 4-year old son.

My father spanked me (and my brother to a much less extent) from the age of 5 until 12. He primarily did his damage with the belt, although he was equally skilled with the palm of his hand on my naked flesh. I was a sneaky child, and my father felt like words at that stage of my life weren't nearly as effective as a good, old fashioned ass-whipping. Most times I was just sore as hell, but there were many times when I went to school, soccer and basketball practice with visible marks on my legs and arms. I had no problems telling people my father had spanked me, but in those days, people just looked at me like "What the hell did you do?" rather than, "Call the police on your dad".

Once I was 13 or so, my dad abandoned the belt and most physical intimidation (I still got in the chest via his fist from time to time), and he switched to mental warfare, which was way more effective. He didn't have to beat me, he would just stand real close to me, or mildly hint around hitting, which made me want to get my shit together. In his mind, the early ass whippings laid the ground for the mental domination in my teenage years--right up until I went to college.

I asked my father today to reflect on both the Adrian Peterson situation and the way he used to beat me, and he was in full mea culpa mode, which caught me a bit off guard. He said he regretted hitting us as much as he did, and acknowledged that distance from that style of parenting has taught him ways he could have been smarter. He also said that his parents used to beat him relentlessly with switches, belts, extension cords and their hands. And considering he had me at 25 years old, he simply did not have time to re-evaluate that style of parenting, so he just repeated what his parents had done with him. He absolutely understood why Adrian Peterson did what he did, but my dad did not condone that level of beating for a 4 year old. He also admitted that what he did to me in the early 80s simply does not cut it in 2014. My ass, arms and legs appreciated this 30 years late apology.

I didn't have my 17-year old son with me on a daily basis, so I didn't have to dole out too many ass whippings. I have popped my two-year old on his butt and hands, but it is never done hard or with bad intentions. It startles him and he magically starts to listen, which is all I'm really trying to accomplish. I hope my wife and I keep each other in check so we never go overboard the way Peterson did, but that can be a tall task since as my father says, "Children test your patience and grind your nerves". So far so good though.

Happy birthday to me mother-in-law, who sent me this link to celebrate the life of Joe Sample:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My friend Oni sent me a message via facebook the other day, and asked me why I had not commented on the events of last week (Ray Rice, the Atlanta Hawks fiasco and Adrian Peterson). I explained to her that between work, being a father and being a husband, I really had not devoted any time to sitting down and stringing together some thoughtful words about what has transpired the past seven days. Even right now, I have an hour's worth of free time to myself since my wife and my son are at the playground. I spent part of that time cleaning the house, part taking a shower and trying to get this flu out of me, and the last part watching football (of course). I decided that the remaining free time I have alone, would be devoted to writing.

The Ray Rice situation really is not one that leaves much for interpretation. Everyone knew that he hit her back in February, just like everyone knew that Donald Sterling was a racist the past 30 years. But TMZ leaked video and audio of Rice and Sterling respectively, and it changed the proverbial game. Folks who had turned a blind eye, were forced to make knee-jerk, yet forceful reactions. Folks who were in the dark, were outraged and jumped on their high horses. Agenda-based folks had (and continue to have) enough ammunition to last the next few weeks. But it should have never come to that, especially with the Ray Rice situation.

Each and every season, NFL players--whether it is in the offseason or during the regular season--get suspended for domestic abuse against their wives, girlfriend, and exes. And each and every time, the NFL basically slaps them on the wrist, so they can get back on the field as soon as possible. In fact, the only way the NFL keeps players off the field for any sustained period of time is for drug use. Domestic violence gets treated as a minor inconvenience. This recent Ray Rice situation will be to the NFL what 9/11 was (and still is) to this country. It'll force the NFL to review all of their processes, and it will probably cause someone (not Roger Goodell who is a made man thanks to the NFL owners who empower him) to lose their job. So if there is any good to be had out of this, it will the changes that the NFL has been forced to make.

But Ray Rice and his wife still need individual and collective counseling to get through this rough time. It isn't for me to say whether they should stay together or not, but you can't endure what they've endured, and just think it'll pass, because it won't without some work. I've gotten into fights with girlfriends and my wife, and I've said some nasty things, I've hit walls, I've yelled at close proximity and I've even grabbed out of anger, but I've never hit a woman. Have I wanted to? Hell yes, just like I'm sure my wife has wanted to hit me, but it isn't worth taking that extra, foolish step, because it changes everything. But once you cross that line like Ray Rice did, you have to pay the price, and he is.

I'm also quite sure that the NFL thought this story would go away, which is why they ignored the tape, and gave Rice a b.s. two-game suspension initially. But this isn't issue isn't going away any time soon, just like the concussion issue, the drug issue and the other problems the NFL is facing these days.

I'm rambling and I'm rusty, so forgive me. I'll tackle the issues of the world tomorrow, when I'm healthier.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

As I got ready to start writing this entry, I realized that July 20th marked the 8th anniversary of the creation of this blog. Not to be to self-congratulatory, but I never thought I'd continue this blog for this long. I thought I would either run out of things to say, or get the type of job that would cause me to delete this blog for my own safety. Neither has happened and here I am about to start yet another entry.

Swimming was one thing that I could not do when I started writing this blog. I had a traumatic experience when I was 5, and I chose to avoid all things swimming until five years ago. My main Sabin learned to swim, and I decided to do the same, and now I'm able to swim one to two miles as part of my morning workout.

The scary part of not knowing how to swim was when my oldest son Carlton and I would go to the pool. He learned how to swim at age 3, and by age 10 he was diving and swimming in 12-feet deep water. I was terrified because if at any point he lost control or started to drown, I'd have to rely on the lifeguard or someone who could swim, because I couldn't do jack shit. Luckily, he never got into any trouble.

Today, my youngest son Nyles and the rest of my family, attended a cookout, and there was a pool in the backyard. I got in the pool, and I was able to guide Nyles in the water so he could begin to get comfortable with being in the water. He clutched me for dear life, and he did a little bit of crying, but he enjoyed his time in the water. More importantly, it felt good to be leading my son toward being more confident in the water at a young age. That's a little something we call, bringing things full circle. Again, this is probably not a big deal to anyone but me, but that's how it should be I suppose.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

This morning after my five-mile run, I was in the midst of doing my customary cool down walk-stretch combination, when I noticed a white woman walking towards me. She had her earphones in, but I noticed that once she saw me, she pulled her iPod out, turned the volume down, and took one ear bud out--something I also do when someone is coming towards me or when I notice someone behind me (keep in mind it was 5:15 am). Once we walked by one another, she said, "Good morning", and I returned the favor. Harmless enough right? No

I didn't simply say good morning my friends, but I summoned the most proper good morning greeting I could muster (think Geoffrey Holder meets Dennis Haysbert). I felt it was necessary to let this woman know that I was just a regular, proper-speaking black man who was out for a morning jog, and not an improper speaking thug looking to harass her at 5am. Never mind that at that very moment I walked by her, a very defiant and profane song by Brand Nubian, entitled "Lick Dem Muthafuckas" was playing in my headphones, and after a five-mile run I was feeling anything but pleasant and cordial. Yet, in an effort to be disarming and pleasant, I ignored my first inclination to be "normal", and chose the safe route.

On one hand, I feel I like did what has been very normal and comfortable for me for the longest time. Since elementary school, I've been in situations where there were less than five percent black folks, which meant I took it upon myself--either at the urging of my parents or some type of internal instinct--to carry myself in a certain way, so that I could show the majority (white folks) how the other half lived (that's some painful shit to type in 2014). On the other hand, given that I am damn near 40 and grown (but not sexy), I know good and goddamn well that I should not be dancing that dance for some woman I don't even know. If she was scared as I approached her, that shouldn't have been my problem and I shouldn't have bent over backwards to make her feel comfortable, by acting in a way that made me feel the exact opposite. I know we all wear the mask and shit, but damn..I took it too far, and I still feel like a sellout.