Monday, October 17, 2016

When I picked up my son up from aftercare on Friday afternoon, the woman in charge pulled me aside and informed me that she had to speak to my son about hitting folks. Apparently while all the kids were outside, Nyles got a little handsy and hit this kid a few times. I told her thank you and my son and I walked back to the car. Once we got back to the car, I asked him what happened and he said that a kid had hit him twice on the playground and he was retaliating. I told him that was no excuse and then I politely reminded him of the rules of engagement where fighting is concerned: No hitting unless someone hits you, then you hit them as hard as you can, and go tell the teacher what happened. No exceptions. He said he understood.

My wife cringes when she hears me say that to Nyles, but that advice is absolutely necessary in the mean streets of Pre-Kindergarten and aftercare. I've seen firsthand how kids around that age just hit people randomly and they keep going if they don't get a sufficient amount of resistance. I also know that the adults in charge rarely see the kid who hits first, just the one who keeps retalitating. So I figured the best thing for Nyles to do in those situations is to retaliate, get his money's worth with the hit(s) while doing so, and then tell the teacher: a)yes, I hit the kid b) I deserve whatever punishment you hand down, but c)he definitely hit me first. Who knows how well this will work, but I'd like to give it a try. I can't have the aftercare and Pre-K staff thinking my son is a troublemaker.

So this morning before I left Nyles in the classroom, we had a brief meeting by his cubby and I reminded him of the rules where hitting involved. The conversation went like this:

Me (whispering): So no hitting right?

Nyles (also whispering): Right daddy

Me: And if someone hits you, what do you do?

Nyles (at the top of his lungs): HIT THEM BACK!

Me (still whispering): Please whisper man. And after you hit them what do you do?

Nyles: (back on the whispering wagon): Tell the teacher.

I did not know that Nyles's teacher was within earshot, but when I turned around, she was standing over there laughing uncontrollably. I gave her the background story about what happened in aftercare, I asked her if Nyles had ever hit anyone in class (he hasn't thank god), and asked if she was ok with the advice I had given my son. She said yes she understood but her face told a different story. She'll get over it though, I can't have my son turning into some punching bag. Once he gets a smart mouth like his dad, he won't have to hit anymore...hopefully.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

I lost a friend of mine from high shcool yesterday at the age of 43. I use friend loosely because we were cool on FB, but we never messaged one another and we haven't had an actual face-to-face conversation since 1991, when I was a junior and he was a senior. But as my wife said, during one snapshot in my life, this dude and I were cool. We'd see each other in the hallway, and he'd make fun of me, I'd make fun of him, and that was our dynamic. For a short period of time, we even played on the same basketball team. I was the point guard, he was the power forward--although football was really his sport. He left two kids and a wife behind. He was leaving messages on Facebook on Monday night, he got up to to work on Tuesday morning, went to get breakfast with his co-workers, and died right there at breakfast. The shit is just heartbreaking man. But life (not his) allegedly goes on right?

Rod Temperton also passed away yesterday at the age of 66. You can explore his resume here.

Here's one of my favorite songs of his. If I could sing, I'd sing it to my wife:

Monday, October 03, 2016

As my main man Sabin told me while we were still in college, there is no sexier way to start a song, than the way Toni Braxton did it here:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I manage about 30-40 people here at my job--four of them are in my office and the rest are strewn about in another offices around D.C. I've asked them to let me know via text whether they are going to be late or completely absent from work, rather than sending an email or leaving a voicemail at work. As a matter of personal preference, I like knowing what challenges lie ahead work-wise before I get to work, instead of being surprised once I arrive. Being married and having a kid has forced me to shed my anarchal ways and be a bit more regimented and organized and the pre-work text is part of that process.

So after I dropped my son off from school, I got back in the car and I noticed I had the following text from one of my employees:
FYI - There's a sick passenger on the Metro

First off, for those of you who don't live in the DC area, the Metro is our subway system. Anyway, I looked at the text message and I wanted to throw the phone through my car window. This person gave me an update as if I was on the train while it was sitting still, and I was wondering why it wasn't moving. But even in that circumstance, Metro would be required to tell passengers what was being done to solve the issue, how long it would take and they would at least give an ETA for when the train would leave. That is what responsible adults do.

But this assclown just told what was going on the Metro without giving me an estimated arrival time, a promise to update me later, and they didn't even let me know where they were. To make matters worse, this person was, they had never sent me a text message before, so I had no clue which of the 30-40 people I manage this really was. I also resented the fact that they didn't preface their bullshit update with a "good morning", a "Hi Rashad", or a "I hope all is well with you". I don't expect those type of friendly salutations because I'm this person's supervisor, that's just the proper thing to do with a colleague, a friend or anyone who you haven't previously seen or spoken to since the day started.

I was irritated at this point, so my response to this text was, "Thanks for the heads up, what time do you think you'll arrive?". I didn't get a response and it is now 10:46am. I suppose I should do some investigative work to figure out who it is, but frankly, I don't give a damn. Everyone always says don't sweat the small stuff and don't like small things ruin the larger day ahead. Whoever said that didn't account for petty folks like me. That is almost as irritating as folks who jaywalk with their heads buried in their cellphone. The lack of etiquette strikes again....

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

In sports there are times when a matchup looks like a mismatch on last season when the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors had Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green, and the Cavaliers had the great LeBron James and not much else (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were out with injuries). LeBron and the Cavs fought hard and led the series 2-1 after three games and then the strength, talent and health of the Warriors eventually overpowered them, and Golden State won the title.

I was 90% sure the Warriors were going to win when I started watching the series but I watched anyway because it is sports, I love basketball and anything can happen on any given night. This same logic does NOT apply to Presidential debates.

Trump and Clinton have shown me what they are capable of, who they are as politicians and people, and what their strengths and weaknesses during this agonizingly long campaign season. There are no surprises, no oh-my-god-I-didn't-know-that moments and nothing to make me change who I'm going to vote for with the election a little more than a month away. So while I didn't judge or silently antagonize people who chose to watch the debate via their living room, a house party or in a public forum, I was not going to be participating. Half the people I talked to weren't watching to be swayed or to be educated, they just wanted to see a good show, which is yet another issue I have with this 2016 election. Lots of show and flair, and not enough substance, judgement and integrity. Besides, the show I wanted to see was on ESPN, via Monday Night Football. And right now as I type this it is 9:55 am, and thanks to the Internet, my co-workers and the Today show, I know exactly what happened so I'm good. Hopefully you don't judge me.

* * * * * * * *

The best and worst parts of being a parent were on display this morning as I walked Nyles to school. Two seconds after we got out of the car, Nyles spotted a kid that he knew and he sprinted towards him while calling his name. The kid was just as excited to see Nylees, but the father looked a bit terrified that his kid was talking to mine. I won't attach race to the reasons this white dude looked terrified because I was equally as terrified at our kids talking--and it had nothing to do with race. I just don't like talking to other parents in the morning, in the afternoon, during PTA meetings or ever. They ask invasive questions, the small talk is maddening, and ultimately I end up losing focus on the REAL task at hand which is my son. So I'm glad this dad "got it" and left me the hell alone. If our wives had been in attendance, they'd still be chatting about b.s.

So once the dad saw that our kids were going to be knee deep in a conversation about Star Wars, he decided to walk two steps faster with his daughter right next to him. Meanwhile, my son and this other kid were breaking down the seven Star Wars movies in an efficient 5-minute span. They established that Princess Leia was pretty, Darth Vader was evil and good, and R2D2 could not talk like a human because he was a robot. It was fascinating. I mostly stayed quiet, but every now and then I used my 40 years of Star Wars knowledge to play fact checker, but I'm pretty sure they didn't listn to a word I said. I'm just proud that 1) My son is a Star Wars fan and 2) Other kids seem to care what he has to say. And as a bonus, the dad left me alone, which made it a great f**king morning..until I got to work of course.

If you're having a rough morning, put headphones on, turn the volume up and play this song:

Monday, September 26, 2016

As I have previously mentioned in this blog, my son's school is right next to a Planned Parenthood facility, which means protestors are prone to make cameo appearances. It had been a good two weeks since any protestors appeared in front of the school, and I was happy about that. I'm all for principled, peaceful protests, but I don't like the creepy abortion pictures, and frankly neither does my son. Plus I don't like explaining life's issues five minutes before I have to drop him off for school. It just isn't a good way for him to start his day of learning.

Today, there was a protestor without the creepy pictures, but she still managed to be slightly disruptive in her own way. She had one big sign which said, "Stop Abortion Now!", but then she took it a step further and used colored chalk to write messages on the very sidewalk the parents and kids had to take en route to school. Some of the sidewalk messages were, "Babies Being Killed This Way", "Baby Murders Over Here", "Have A Good Day Baby Killers". Some of the kids just kept walking and didn't read the messages. Some kids could read, and read the messages out loud then asked their parents what that meant, other kids (like my son Nyles) couldn't read all the words, but the bright colors were intriguing so he asked me what it said, why it was written on the sidewalk and who wrote it.

The woman who wrote the message was sitting on the grass in front of Planned Parenthood making yet another sign, and I pointed her out to Nyles. He asked me why she wrote on the sidewalk, and I told him she had a message she wanted every one to see. I didn't tell him what the words said, and I damn sure wasn't about to fit an abortion/anti-abortion discussion into the 50-foot walk we had into the school. Luckily for me, as soon as he got closer to his school, all Nyles wanted to discuss was his new haircut and his even newer lunchbox. Crisis averted.

But some of the other parents I saw as I left the school and walked back towards the car were not quite as lucky. I heard kids ages 5-12 ask what abortion was, what Planned Parenthood does, and why protesters are always in front of the building. To properly set this scene from the parents perspective, imagine that it is Monday morning at 8am, you're already thinking about work-related matters, you may or may not have a hangover from the drinking you did during Sunday brunch or Sunday football, and it is taking every ounce of your remaining strength just to walk your kid to school and be on your merry way. And then all those plans fall by the wayside because one lone anti-abortion protestor decided that today is the day to write messages in colorful chalk all over the damn sidewalk. Your kid is asking questions and getting stressed out, and you can't exactly ignore their questions because that isn't great parenting, but you can't pull your kid aside and give them the straight talk you'd like to give, because the start of school casts a pall over all of that. It is a jacked up position to be in, and every parent I saw--regardless of their politics--looked like they wanted to strangle this girl with the garden hose that was in the grass next to her. Thanks to this girl, my four year old will be an expert in both sides of the abortion argument very early on in the game. Thanks protestor lady.

By the way, am I even allowed to use the word "abortion" that many times in a blog post? I feel like I've set off some Beetlejuice-type alarms here.

Friday, September 23, 2016

I am having barbershop issues again.

Over the past few months, my barber Stan has begun to show signs of slippage. He's about 56 years old, which is unfair to mention, because his slightly advance age was never an issue the past seven years I've been going to him. But it definitely seems to be working against him right now. He pushes my hairline back too far sometimes, and other times, he doesn't keep my beard as full as I'd like, which leaves with me with a bullshit Taye Diggs-in-the-movie-Brown-Sugar beard instead of the Issac Hayes beard my face has come to know and love. It had gotten to the point where I had to antagonize him before my haircut and give him specific instructions, then I had to follow that up with mid-haircut instructions to reinforce my preferences. Most barbers hate that and Stan is no exception, but I have no desire to walk around with a jacked up haircut for two or more weeks, so I do what I must.

The only reason I didn't ditch Stan months ago is that my young son Nyles loves "Mr. Stan", who is the only barber he's ever known. Stan jokes around with him, gives him a lollipop after every cut, and they end their transaction with a firm, intricate handshake. I must admit it is rather cute to watch, and I'm about maintaining a certain routine--but not at the expense of my hair and beard game.

There is another barbershop that is right on my way to work, and once things started deteriorating with Stan, I made it my business to try this new shop to see how I liked it. The first time I went to one barber and just played it safe with a shape up. The second time, I went to a different barber and entrusted him with my pre-going-to-Miami haircut and he nailed it. The new barbershop was a nice mix of young and old, and there are 8 barbers who work in there. The downside is that I always have to wait at least 30 minutes, which I never had to do at my old shop. I"m not a patient man who needs and loves to soak up the barbershop atmosphere. I like to get in and out--especially when Nyles is with me. Some of the barbers have told me to make an appointment, which I may try again. The last time I tried all of the barbers I liked were booked up for 2-3 days. Still, this shop has potential.

When I came back from Miami at the end of August, I decided to give Stan one more chance at redemption. Nyles and I got up at 8am on a Sunday morning like we usually do, and by chance, we saw Stan riding his bike about five minutes away from the shop. Stan explained that he had gotten fired from the shop, and he had relocated to another shop which was five minutes away. We agreed to meet him at the shop at 9am, even though it meant we had to kill an hour's worth of time.

**Sidebar** My barber's I-got-fired story goes like this...Apparently, one of his main customers came up short when it came time to pay the bill, and Stan said it was ok and let him go. Normally what Stan does in that situation is 1)Use his own money so the cash drawer didn't come up short at the end of the night and 2) Tell the manager, so he was aware. Well on this particular day, Stan didn't replenish the drawer or tell the manager, and he was accused of stealing. He was put on probation for a week, then he was fired. Something tells me there is more to the story, but when someone is in charge of cutting your hair with clippers and your beard with a straight razor, you don't make them uncomfortable in any shape, form or fashion***sidebar off***

Nyles and I set foot in the Stan's new shop, and immediately I was crestfallen. The shop is in a less desirable part of town and inside it looked rundown and smelled like a pack rat's closet. The barber chairs were clean, as were the razors, blades and clippers but everything else in the shop looked suspect. Nyles, who has neither tact nor couth, said, "Daddy it's dirty in here", and just asked him to sit his ass down in a spot I carefully chose for him. To make matters worse, it was 9 in the damn morning, but the owner of the barbershop felt the need to blast some profane rap music (I think it was Future). I asked Stan if he could ask the owner to turn it down, and the owner did so very begrudingly which pissed me off. Luckily for me, Nyles wasn't paying any attention to the words, but the last thing I needed was for him to bring home a curse word or two for my wife to hear. No one wins there. I left the barbershop, I watched he and Nyles do their normal strong handshake ritual, and then I told Stan I'd be back next week. I haven't been back since.

But yesterday, I tried to do an afterschool pop-in with Nyles at the new barbershop, and there was at least a 45 minutes wait, which was not going to work. I went back at 9am this morning when they opened, and there were 4 barbers working, but they were all accepting their appointment customers. I asked when the non-appointment barbers would be in and they said by 9:30, but by 10, they hadn't showed. I left out. Clearly, I will have to make appointment, which is difficult to do with a 4-year old. For now, we will be going back to Stan on Sunday morning..I think.

I resent my old barber for first slipping at his craft, and then getting himself fired, which has put me into some sort of weird limbo. I resent my new barbershop for placing emphasis on appointments, rather than the old-fashioned walk-in, which is how new clients are built. I wish I could find a good barber, who could just come to my house every Sunday morning, cut my hair and then roll out. That would be ideal.