You know, you spend your childhood watching TV, assuming that a some point in the future everything you see there will one day happen to you: that you too will win a Formula One race, hop a train, foil a group of terrorists, tell someone ‘Give me the gun,’ etc. Then you start secondary school and suddenly everyone’s asking you about your career plans and your long-term goals, and by goals they don’e mean the kind you are planning to score in the FA Cup. Gradually the awful truth dawns on you: that Santa Claus was just the tip of the iceberg — that your future will not be the rollercoaster ride you’d imagined, that the world occupied by your parents, the world of washing the dishes, going to the dentist, weekend trips to the DIY superstore to buy floor tiles is actually largely what people mean when they speak of ‘life.’ Now, with every day that passes, another door seems to close, the one marked PROFESSIONAL STUNTMAN or FIGHT EVIL ROBOT, until the weeks go by and the doors — GET BITTEN BY SNAKE, SAVE WORLD FROM ASTEROID, DISMANTLE BOMB WITH SECONDS TO SPARE — keep closing, you begin to hear the sound as a good thing, and start closing some yourself, even ones that didn’t necessarily need to be closed . . .
Notes from the Golden Orange
EppsNet Archive: Parents
I hope our boy appreciates that his mom and I never let him fall into a gorilla enclosure. He’s 22 now. Anything he falls into going forward is on him.
I’m not in the “could have happened to anyone” camp on this. The Cincinnati Zoo has more than 1.2 million visitors per year. Out of tens of millions of visitors, only one has fallen into the gorilla exhibit.
A 1 in 10 million occurrence doesn’t fall under the “could have happened to anyone” umbrella in my opinion.
I’m in an office this morning where a TV is tuned to Good Morning, America . . . it’s Mothers Day weekend and a woman is being honored because she has children, who are now grown, and she prioritized the children in her life and made sacrifices for them.
That’s where we are in the 21st century — a mother who centers her life around her children is a national phenomenon.
Can’t wait for Fathers Day . . .
A southern Alberta couple accused of allowing their meningitis-infected toddler to die four years ago tried home remedies such as olive leaf extract and whey protein rather than take him to a doctor, a Lethbridge jury heard Monday.
David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet Stephan, 35, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life for 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.
First point: If the name “Ezekiel” shows up on a birth certificate, alert the local authorities to be on the lookout for additional crazy behavior in the future.
In a bid to boost his immune system, the couple gave the boy — who was lethargic and becoming stiff — various home remedies, such as water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and finally a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horse radish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root as his condition deteriorated.
The Stephans run a nutritional supplements company called Truehope Nutritional Support Inc., which distributes a product called Empowerplus. They also tried treating Ezekiel with Empowerplus.
The Stephans have said that they prefer “naturopathic” remedies because of their family’s “negative experiences” with the medical system. Now that they’ve also had a “negative experience” with naturopathic remedies, I’m thinking it’s a good opportunity to reassess their position.
The family has posted on social media that they feel they are being unfairly persecuted and that their approach to health should be respected.
If your son dies because you refused to take him to a doctor even though you knew he was sick, then I’d say that any persecution of you is both fair and appropriate.
As for respecting your “approach to health,” that would require ignoring the fact that your approach to health resulted in the probably unnecessary death of a 19-month-old child. That’s a pretty strong argument against your approach to health.
Remember folks, there’s not such thing as “alternative” medicine. There’s “medicine” and there’s “things that have not been proven to work,” like curing meningitis with maple syrup.
28 Sep 2008
I took my son to the bookstore to buy To Kill a Mockingbird for his English class. They had two paperback editions available — one with a fancy binding for $15.95 and another one for three dollars less.
I pulled the cheaper one off the shelf and my son asked, “Why are we getting that one?”
I said, “Because it’s three dollars less for the same book.”
“I like the other cover better,” he said.
“Gimme three dollars.”
23 Oct 2008
FATHER: Would you take out the trash please?
SON: Are you KIDDING?! I’m doing homework! I’ll take out the trash if you read To Kill a Mockingbird and tell me what each chapter is about.
FATHER: I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird. You want to know what it’s about? ‘Racism is Bad.’ Now take out the garbage.
RIP Harper Lee
[Developmental psychologist Emmy Werner] found that several elements predicted resilience. Some elements had to do with luck: a resilient child might have a strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor-like figure. But another, quite large set of elements was psychological, and had to do with how the children responded to the environment. From a young age, resilient children tended to “meet the world on their own terms.” They were autonomous and independent, would seek out new experiences, and had a “positive social orientation.” “Though not especially gifted, these children used whatever skills they had effectively,” Werner wrote. Perhaps most importantly, the resilient children had what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”: they believed that they, and not their circumstances, affected their achievements. The resilient children saw themselves as the orchestrators of their own fates. In fact, on a scale that measured locus of control, they scored more than two standard deviations away from the standardization group.
Something to think about if you’re positioning yourself as a victim of circumstances, or telling others, including children, that they are victims of circumstances, that their efforts will not be rewarded fairly, that powerful forces are conspiring to keep them down, etc.
Granted, most or all of the people in the second group seem to be in it for personal aggrandizement, i.e., You can’t make it in America so you need me to make a big fuss on your behalf and get handsomely paid for it, either in the form of money or in political power.
Carol Dweck’s research is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s beliefs. These may be beliefs that we’re aware of or unaware of but they strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also shows how changing people’s beliefs can have profound effects.
Dweck’s insight into fixed mindset (bad) vs. growth mindset (good) is powerful but there’s really not enough to it to sustain a book-length exposition without a lot of repetition and illustrational anecdotes, the problem with which is 1) they tend to be overly simple tales of triumph and failure with clearly identified causes; and 2) they ignore the inevitability of regression.
For example, two of the people Dweck identifies as exemplars of the growth mindset are Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez. Mindset was published in 2006, after which Woods’s career imploded in the wake of extramarital affairs with 100 or so women, and Rodriguez was suspended from baseball for cheating.
Among the companies singled out as possessing a growth mindset is Circuit City, which announced in January 2009 that it was going out of business.
Don’t get me wrong here, I think Dweck’s work is insightful and illuminating, I just don’t think it works well as a book. For a shorter introduction, try, for example, “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids,” recently published in Scientific American.
Our boy was home recently for a visit . . . he lives in San Francisco now . . . we were driving to dinner one night and his mom, from the back seat, said to him, “You can move back if you want to.”
“I don’t think I would move back to Irvine,” the boy said matter-of-factly.
“I meant you can move the seat back. I have plenty of room back here.”
I noticed a significant uptick in traffic to EppsNet in the past week . . . a check of the referrer logs indicates that it’s coming from Reddit, specifically from a series of posts on the hapas subreddit (here’s an example) identifying me as the worst father of all time and an overall despicable human being.
(If you’re as much in the dark as I was about what a “hapa” is, it’s a person of partial Asian or Pacific Islander descent. My son, for example, would be a “hapa,” which is how the hapas subreddit took an interest in EppsNet.)
Ironically, the posts cited on Reddit as evidence of my awfulness are — to me, anyway — either pretty obviously not intended to be taken at face value (some are attributed to an imaginary author named Hostile Witness, to make it even more obvious), or completely on point, or both.
I’ll say this about my results as a parent: Unlike the population of the hapas subreddit, my son is not a whiny twit with no sense of irony, humor or perspective. He doesn’t invent labels for himself and seek out discrimination where there is none.
That being said, thanks for visiting, hapas, and additional thanks to the 40 or so of you who also picked up a copy of my book while you were here.
Children grow up. Love is day by day. Letting go is not easy.
Our boy is very handsome, his mom says. She says she can’t understand how that happened.
“You don’t think I’m handsome?” I ask.
“We’re average-looking people, let’s be honest about it. You don’t agree?”
“I think you’re very beautiful.”
“You’re very handsome,” she says, after a pause almost too short to notice.
I like to make sweeping judgments about people based on my assessment of how their kids turned out. A lot of kids from famous families are train wrecks. Trump’s kids, while a little odd-looking in my opinion (Ivanka excepted), are not. Kudos to Mr. Trump and his wives.
Our boy is working and living in San Francisco now, We went to visit him last weekend . . .
It’s hard to drive and park in SF so a lot of people walk to where they need to go. Our hotel was a few blocks from the boy’s apartment but for the most part, we left the car in the parking garage and walked everywhere.
On a couple of occasions, we met one of his co-workers walking past us in the other direction. (His office is nearby, 7-8 blocks from his apartment, but it’s a startup, not a huge company like Transamerica with lots of employees.) On another occasion, we met a couple of his college classmates from Cal sitting near us at a local eatery. This is not to mention the friends, classmates and co-workers that we planned to meet up with because they also live in the vicinity.
I’ve lived in Irvine and worked in town or nearby for 15 years and I never see anyone I know walking around the city, probably because I don’t walk around the city and neither does anyone else. Well, I take that back . . . on weekend mornings I usually walk about a mile to Starbucks for coffee. The average number of people I meet on those walks is approximately 0.0.
But even when we go to restaurants. movies, stores, public events, etc., I very rarely see anyone I know. Very rarely.
It’s funny that a big, international city like San Francisco feels more like a neighborhood than does a typical suburban community . . .
Photo Credit: louisraphael
Photo by Siderola
Guess what, Dad and I finally figured out Pandora,
and after all those years of silence, our old music
fills the air. It fills the air, and somehow, here,
at this instant and for this instant only
—perhaps three bars—what I recall
equals all I feel, and I remember all the words.
Oh to be young and strong and accomplish a longtime goal! Goodbye Berkeley, it’s been a great four years …
If I just stay in here and never come out, maybe the graduation won’t happen and he’ll still be my little boy . . .
We’re in Berkeley for Casey’s graduation tomorrow . . . we got a text from him earlier this week saying “I just took my last two college exams.” Thus ends a journey that began 17 years ago on the first day of kindergarten, which I feel like I remember too vividly for it to have been 17 years ago, but it was.
Now what? I don’t mean for him . . . he’s got a job lined up in San Francisco. I mean for me. I’ve had the milestone birthdays — the ones where your age ends in zero — that seem to depress a lot of people . . . they didn’t bother me at all. But my boy becoming an independent person in the world is really disorienting me . . .
Sheryl [Sandberg] has made her husband, Dave, the role model for the perfect husband. She has said many times that the most important factor in her success was the husband she chose. And as late a week ago, she was saying that men need to do more, they are not doing enough, they need to take more responsibility. And, again, she held up her husband as an example. . . .
So then, I would like to know why was he on vacation in Mexico without Sheryl and without the kids? What was it a vacation from? Who was he with?
Why was Sheryl in DC instead of going to get the body? Why was Sheryl in DC instead of home with her kids? Why does Dave take a vacation when Sheryl is scheduled to be gone?
I wouldn’t ask so many questions except that Sheryl keeps telling me to lean in, but she doesn’t tell me how she does it. I ended up spending my 401K on household help, scaling back my career, and taking my kids on business trips that were magical at first and a bore thereafter. . . .
She tells me she and her husband try to make sure one of them is home with the kids, but it’s not what we have seen in the last five days. She doesn’t tell us if she has nannies. She doesn’t tell us how often she is away from her kids. All she tells us is that leaning in depends on her husband.
So can she lean in now? Can you lean in if you don’t have the perfect husband? What if it’s too late to get the perfect husband? She doesn’t address that, but maybe she will now. I have a feeling that the spokesperson for high-flying careers is going to get a lot more informative and helpful now that she’s a single mom. All the money in the world can’t buy a substitute for a parent showing up to kiss a skinned knee.