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Monday, April 28, 2014

What is your child's signature?

Kids playing together.
We are all proud of our children.  It comes with the territory.  It's part of being a parent.  We are proud of our kid's first cry, first tooth, first step, and first day of school.  We celebrate everything they do, whether it's good like winning a science fair or bad like macaroni art.  We still make a big fuss over it because they are our kids and we need to build up their confidence.  The question is, what is your kid known for by people that are not his relatives?  What is your kid's calling card?  What is your kid's signature?


All to often a kid's signature is very negative.  You can test this out at your local Walmart, either in the checkout line or near the toy section.  Whining, crying, spoiled, (and a few other choice words I choose not to use on my blog) bunch of brats are the calling cards of far to many kids.  Or let's take a more realistic approach, let's ask the teachers at your kid's school what would be your kid's signature?  Would your kid be labeled as kind and generous by the teachers?  Or would he be labeled as a loner and introvert?  Or would reality hit home and truth be told that your kid's calling card is he is rude, disrespectful, and disruptive? Of course I'm being a tease, your child's signature is told to you more often than not.  Only those that choose to live in fantasy land don't hear what is said about their kid's character and behavior.

I take great pride and joy in my two Sons and all their many accomplishments.  But more important than all their trophies, awards, scores, and accolades is their character.  When someone tells me they are impressed my one of them being kind or courteous it means the world to me.  But on the other hand if word gets to me that one of them has done something disrespectful, then there is a beeline from me to him. You can ask either one of them on this. I don't wait a single minute to confront them on character issues. Then I hear someone speak of how my Son is friends with all his classmates, it tells me I've done something right.  Just last night, we left church and my oldest called me. He asked if I had taken River Road as the way home.  I said no and asked why?  He said there was a bad accident and someone was thrown from their vehicle and he had stopped to help them until the ambulance got there.  Most parents would have freaked out hearing their seventeen year old was at a bad accident scene.  I just turn to the wife and said, "Our Son is being himself, he'll be home shortly.".  His character had kicked in and someone's well being was more important than his fancy church clothes he was wearing.  His signature was showing loud and clear.
A kid's signature.

You see, I know what my kids' signatures are in this life.  It's to always do the best they can at the task they have set in front of them.  To be appreciative of the life they have and respectful of the life around them. And help other people every chance they get.  They may not get an A+ 100 every day, but they pass enough tests to get that reputation.  And as a Father, what more can I ask?  Have you figured out what your child's signature is yet?


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring is finally here! Bring on the Crawfish!

Typical SpringFest
I know it's late April but this ridiculous Winter has put off Spring here in South Louisiana until now.  But here it has finally arrived, Spring!  Usually, in this part of the country we get very little Winter conditions.  Some off and on cold fronts in December, then a fairly cold January leads to a February that starts with a freeze or two.  Then by March 1st we are experiencing early Spring in Cajun land.  But for this year it has been a different story.  Winter started in late October and stayed all the way through until the first week of April.  Not off and on like usual.  Also, we had three snow/ice events.  We average one snow event every five years down here.  It's really a big deal because we don't know how to deal with the snow and our entire state shuts down.  I don't think there is a single snow plow in the state.


Although it usually starts on March 1st, Spring has finally arrived and that's means lots of good things in Cajun land.  It means the start of Fairs and Festivals.  You name a native food and we have a Festival for it. Anything from Tomatoes to Alligators we have a food festival for that.  It also starts the season of music festivals, including the world famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the growing Bayou Country Music Fest.  But to me by far the best the about Spring in Louisiana is that fact that it is Crawfish Season.  As the temperature rises the mud bugs come out and grow.  By the end of April and the beginning of May there will be a crawfish boil to attend almost every weekend.  That's the good life in Louisiana.


Boiled Crawfish!
Sure there are plenty of other things to do in the Spring.  There are company picnics, camping trips, gardens that need to be tended to, and lots of other family events.  Spring represents a rebirth and a renewal a things from the long cold Winter.  Especially after this insane Winter.  And those that know me and my family know we have big plans with graduation on our plate this May in our home.  It just seems the higher that Sun gets in the sky and the warmer it gets the more I think about soaking those crawfish in some cayenne pepper!  So I hope you enjoy your Spring Festivals, the warm Spring breezes, and your boiling pot is filled with hot, spicy, plentiful, delicious,crawfish. Happy Spring everybody!




Monday, April 21, 2014

Do you stand for something or against everything?

Protest by wikimedia
These days we live in an America that is sharply divided.  We have people that have opinions that are very far apart.  And we have people that make a living by fanning the flames of the anger between those differences.  We now have an America that is ruled more by hate, anger, rage, boycotting, and plain old ugliness than by the principles that it was founded upon. But does it have to be that way?  It's far to easy to say what you stand against than what you stand for because standing for something means actually doing something to prove you believe in that cause.


In today's social media driven world it is very convenient to re-post some link to a hateful rant, but if you stand for something that means you have to take that stand day after day.  Much like politicians using smear campaigns, stating what you are against is just an easy out.  Working toward what you stand for takes years of hard work and commitment.  Taking a stand for something takes a unwavering faith that requires all of your spare time, energy, and effort, and that's just not cool in today's convenient drive thru American lifestyle.  When you stand for something it permeates your entire life.  You don't just speak about it or post it on social media.  You actually live it out every day, in every facet of your life.  That's the hard part of being "for" something.  When you are against things, all you have to do is click on a link and re-post it and then you get to feel like you have accomplished something.  Not much of a commitment there.  The question is what does clicking on a link that states you are against something actually accomplish?  Did you make a difference in some one's life?  Did you change some one's mind?  Did you turn the tide of the overall argument?  The answer to all is sadly, no!

Volunteers
If you really want to make a difference in this life, take a stand for something and actually go out and stand with that someone or something.  Get up off the couch and go and do something for someone, that's what making a difference is all about.  That's the definition of standing up for something.  Don't be lulled to sleep by the talking heads on the news channels and political circuits, staying at home and being a part of poll numbers doesn't affect any one's life.  At least not in a positive way.  When your time here on Earth is done who do you think will come pay their respects at your funeral?  The people that had the links you clicked on that stated what you were against, or the people that you went out of your way to help?  People will always remember what you stood for, but few will remember what you stood against.  I hope you make a difference in some one's life today.

Monday, April 14, 2014

There's always a bigger pond!

Big Fish in the Pond!
Recently the wife and I got to tag along with my oldest as he went to LSU to an early Orientation/Testing invitation for kids that have really high academic achievements.  We were there with about six hundred other sets of proud parents.  All of us grinning from ear to ear that our kid had been selected for this prestigious honor.  While the kids took their tests, we parents were sent into large theaters to listen to chancellors talk about everything from GPA's, to dorms, and even saying good byes on move in day.  After the second test, which was Calculus, my Son text me to meet him at the lunch line.  While waiting in the line he informed me that no less than fifteen of the three hundred taking the test stood up with in minutes of receiving the test and turned it in.  The proctor asked if there was a problem and the students replied they had never seen anything like this.  While standing in the line I could overhear several other students complain to their parents how badly they had bombed the Calculus test.

How could this be?  How could the best of the best on ACT scores and High School GPA's not know what was waiting for them at the next level?  The answer is very simple.  We as parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, and the like teach our kids to be the biggest fish in the pond they are in.  We rarely teach them or prepare them for the next pond they are going to advance to.  This is not just an academic thing.  This happens at the local ball field as well.  To often a coach will have Little Johnny be the best slugger at the local recreation field but when invited to go to try out for a minor league team, he can't hit the broad side of a barn.  Surely this is crazy talk on my part.  But it's just part of human nature.  We want to be the best in the environment we are in, even if that means ignoring long term needs.  And we all to often transfer this to our kids.  We want our kid to win the big trophy at the local event without any consideration of what benefits it is or is not giving him for the next level of life.

Celebrate your kids real accomplishments!
What good is it to have the best GPA or ACT in your High School if your not ready for college?  Bragging rights and a job at the oil change shop?  What good is it to be the most decorated ball player in your district if you aren't able to make it to the next level?  A case full of trophies to collect dust in your subsidized house? Achievements at any level are a good thing and worthy of praise, but they must be seen as building blocks. If you are not prepping for the next level up, or excuse the expression a bigger pond, then you are just wasting your talent.  By all means celebrate your child's good grades, ACT scores, home runs, swim meet medals, and every other accomplishment, but make sure it's all part of a bigger plan to prepare him for a bigger pond in the long run.  No one ever remembers who was the Valedictorian of the Eighth grade but everyone knows who the name of Microsoft's CEO!  Make sure you are aiming for that next and bigger pond in everything you and your kid does and things in life will be a lot smoother for everyone.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sometimes teaching kids skills is more important than the luxuries of life!

Flag folding.
We just finished another successful camp out with the Boy Scout Troop.  Many skills were taught and learned.  Everything from compass skills, to lashings, to cooking, and even flag etiquette was accomplished. I'm very proud of my Troop and all the things they got done.  Their mastery of skills for their respective ages was very pleasing.  It's the reason we do the things we do.  To prepare these boys for life as a man.  To give them useful skills and more importantly, give them hands on training that will give them self confidence in other areas of life.  But it got me to thinking.  What do the rest of the kids in America do with their weekends?  What are we teaching them is important with their down time?  What skills are they learning?


Unfortunately, the answer is scary!  We are raising a generation of kids to only value the luxuries of life.  The weekends and the weeks off from school are for self serving purposes only.  Kids these days only use these holidays for movies, video games, and trips to theme parks.  Gone are the days of community service and duty to one's country.  This is not Monaco or Dubai for crying out loud.  This is America!  We were founded on hard work and extra effort. But that message falls on deaf ears.  Today all extra work is for the government to do.  And parents reinforce these horrible messages.  They tell their little ones that they don't need to do any thing extra.  Don't worry, mommy and daddy will make it all better and take you for ice cream later.  So much for equipping your child for his future.  If a kid can't use a day off from school to improve himself then there is no hope of him ever taking any control of his own life and making the most of it.


We as parents all have a desire to pamper our kids.  But we must be adult enough to see the bigger picture. We must take into account how this weekend's activities will affect Little Johnny in the long term of his life. How will this Easter Holiday off of school and the plans for it will make Little Johnny a better adult?  If you answer honestly, there will be fewer trips to the movie theater and more trips to the community center.  If you know what's best for your child there will be fewer video games and a few more trips to Uncle Tommy's mechanic shop to learn about hard work.  And if you really want to teach him the value of life, instead of that theme park you will send him to see his grandparent in that nursing home.  There's nothing wrong with a little luxury here and there, but if that's all your kid knows then he will be lost and confused when he hits the real world.  The time to start teaching your kids real world skills is now, not at 18, NOW!  The quicker your kid adjusts to the real world the easier time he will have once he gets there.  Those kids that are only shown the luxuries of life will be the ones that have the most trouble in adulthood.  They will either end up on you couch or on the public assistance dollar.  Either way, teaching kids skills is the key to a better America!

Have a great and productive day!