Nov 4, 2013

File Under: Time Flies

I want to share something pretty interesting with my IGTBTD
readers today. Friends of mine, Duane and his son, Curran, recently participated in some wacky steeplechase-ironman-grungefest. There was all kinds of running through mud and fire and everything wonderful. Here's a picture of the two of them going through one of the water hazards.

What a great scene, father and young adult son bonding through the shared experience of testing their strength and endurance. I really encourage this kind of father-son activity. Especially as the kids get older, we dads need to find new ways of staying connected with our kids as they grapple with all the challenges of the grown-up world.

Only one problem… the photo above is an amazing optical illusion. Curran is actually 14 and a freshman in high school. Scroll down to see the picture in the last paragraph. That's Curran's actual size.

When these photos first popped up on my friend's Facebook account, I was stunned. I was stunned that the camera accidentally captured what was happening inside Curran! He's already beginning to feel like a man. Girls are more "interesting". Work, and income, is beginning to add a new level of independence. He thinks about life in more complex and subtle ways than ever before. In short, he's growing up, fast, even though he may be a couple years away from the growth spurt that will signal to the rest of us that he is quickly becoming the young man he looks like in the first picture.

A couple posts back, I wrote about the developmental issues that maturing children face and how dads can "mature" in our fathering techniques to keep pace. If you haven't yet, please read that post.

But let's let Duane and Curran give us some tremendous advice as well… Dads, keep growing in how you connect with your kids. This wackadoodle run through fire and water would have been frustrating and nearly impossible for Curran just a couple years ago. It would have separated father and son. Now, from either picture you want to look at, it seems that father and son found an experience that drew them closer together.

With my boys, I've gone from working on Legos to working on cars. Although I think I was much more skilled on the Legos, I now cherish that time together under an oily Jeep engine. I think my kids might, too!

Dad's keep growing along with your children! It's good to be the dad!!!

Clark H Smith

Aug 5, 2013

School Daze

My journey toward Empty Nesting is now just days... heartbeats... away. Youngest son will wave goodbye to Mommy and Daddy in less than three weeks and be off on his "grown up" journey. Many of my readers are in my shoes. Many others of my readers are preparing for the first day of Elementary School.

I've got something for each situation. Enjoy these re-runs posted last summer, but still urgently fresh.

College Drop Off Day Success

Jul 29, 2013

10s Get 10s

We have a saying around our house, “10s get 10s”. It’s not a law of the universe, more like a proverb (which simply means something proves to be true often enough that you can generally rely on it). Think of the clichéd high school romance – the football quarterback and the cheerleader. It’s a cliché because it happens often enough in reality that we understand what it’s telling us… “10s get 10s”.

This all started when I showed my boys this three minute snippet from a Discovery Channel show, The Science of Sex Appeal.
I encourage you to watch it and then to share it with your children (probably teens will understand it best).

My point in all this is to stimulate my sons to be 10s. Oh, you’ve see the family photos… “good luck with that”, right?

Fortunately, we’ve evolved a little bit beyond appreciating pure physical attraction. Our mate-seeking preferences extend to consider a person’s work ethic, disposition, and compatibility of interests. The good news is we all can be(come) 10s in many ways other than what the “mirror, mirror on the wall” tells us. And this applies to far more than just pair-bonding.

I recently shared this graph with my youngest son. I call it the “10s get 10s” graph. (You should be
able to click and enlarge it.) The black, bell curve line represents the “application of abilities”. Not many of us are the absolute best on earth at any one thing (raw ability). But we can all make an effort to apply the abilities that we do have.

Whether playing the piano or soccer, bussing tables, or managing a Fortune 500 company, most of us are likely to get better based on the diligence with which we apply our ability. We approach “10ness” by our efforts to get better. The bell curve indicates that most people are satisfied with being a 4, 5, 6, or 7. Moving to the far right side of the curve simply takes more effort than most humans want to give… but I believe that high-value ground is available to more people than will ever go there.

The ascending red line represents the “…get 10s” side of the equation – opportunities and rewards. To go back to our cliché, the quarterback (the one with a 10 on his forehead) tends to attract the attention of the cheerleader (with a 10 on her forehead). Again and fortunately, we’re not all stuck in the mediocre rut our looks and natural abilities afford us. The more we apply our abilities, the more likely (it’s a proverb, remember) we are to experience rewards for our efforts, whether that be relatively higher income, relatively more satisfying relationships, perceived greater esteem, etc.

Dads, this is where YOU come in. I urge you to think about this topic and consider translating it to your children. (I love running errands with my children or taking them to lunch and talking about things just like this.) Examples of “10s get 10s” are all around us and worth using as teaching opportunities with our children.

A youngster picked to be the soccer team captain is probably a child that shows up consistently and works hard at practice – it’s not always the team’s leading scorer. The child selected to assist the teacher on a demonstration is usually one who has paid attention and shown an interest in class. Summer mowing jobs usually go to the neighbor kid who did a good job the first time. And healthy, life-long relationships go, not to star-crossed lovers, but to those who work at love day in and day out.

You can find innumerable examples of “10s get 10s” in your immediate world and explain them to your children. I hope you do. I hope you emphasize that people who work at applying their abilities are the people who tend to experience greater opportunities and rewards for their efforts. Because that’s how life tends to work.

A personal example comes to mind right now that will uniquely illustrate this. I consider myself something of a barbeque aficionado – both producing and consuming it. Years ago, when KC Masterpiece bbq sauce was just hitting the national tongue, I did a taste test with some friends comparing my sauce to Rich Davis’ nasty, molassesey Texas-style sauce (in my humble opinion). ALL of my taste-testers liked mine better. When I made the big reveal, that they had all selected my sauce over the million dollar competitor, one friend looked at me flatly, saying “everybody makes better sauce than KC Masterpiece. Davis just got his out there.”

It’s all true. Rich Davis brewed small batches of his sauce in his home kitchen, bottled it, and went door-to-door, store-to-store, pestering his way onto grocery shelves. He applied his abilities (and mediocre sauce) and became a 10, making millions of dollars along the way.

Me, I still make better sauce, but you’d never know it. I’m working at being a 10 dad, not saucier. What about you?

Clark H Smith