As an engaged father, being an active participant in your child’s life is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have as a parent. As you nurture their burgeoning self-esteem and champion varying accomplishments; their achievements will reinforce one of the most important components in a gentleman’s life – purpose. To be sure, acceptance of idle fatherhood is to deny one’s principal role as a father. Passionately embrace your purpose, and the joyful fulfillment you feel will further drive the best in you.
Nervously, I sat silently at the breakfast nook table awaiting an answer from my daughter. Ava was the Star Student of the Week, and the theme for this month was being a superhero. She was supplied with a poster with various blank sections that required fun, personal information about herself. There were sections that required a list of fun hobbies, an imaginary superpower, and the names of people in her super team (family members). There was also a section reserved for the identity of who was a superhero to her. I sat with her filling out each section. Finally, we arrived at the section that required the identity of her own superhero. And so, I asked the question and anxiously sat on the edge of my seat waiting for an answer. In popular culture, the role of the father is sometimes boiled down to an unaware nincompoop that faints at the first sign of a soiled diaper, is inept at preparing a decent meal, and is devoid of emotional intelligence that is essential for raising children.
Fortunately, young children are not well-versed in popular culture. They won’t succumb to the whims of societal pressure. So as I waited for Ava’s answer, I was hoping for some unbiased truth that wouldn’t sting too bad. Her choices were plentiful: Moana, Doc McStuffins, or any member of the PJ Masks super squad. Selfishly, I was hoping I would make the cut. To my relief, Ava revealed that my wife and I were her superheroes. As a parent, especially being a father, one only wishes that the job you perform as a parent is recognized on some level. To be loved, respected, and appreciated by your children is the greatest reward anyone can dare to hope. Through her lens, we were granted superhero status, and I felt joyous inside. So, I began to ponder what superpowers did I inherit after becoming a parent. I was able to readily identify five super-parent abilities. If you are a parent, you are probably familiar with the list below very well.
- I knew that my daughter wanted to be Moana for Halloween before she ever told me. So when I inquired about her preferred costume for Halloween, she confirmed that my assumption was indeed correct. Fully equipped and tailored with the Heart of Te Fiti pendant, Hei Hei the chicken, her magical oar, a Moana wig, and an authentic dress from Motunui (well, Target that is); she won the best overall costume for her age group. Parental “spidey senses” are quite useful when your entire world revolves around anticipating your kid’s wants and needs. And it is especially helpful when identifying potential danger around every corner. Case in point: Miles loves to be the “line leader” when entering school. However, he isn’t tall enough to be seen through the glass window by anyone on the opposite side of the door. On this particular day, he dashed to the door before me, and seconds later I spotted another gentleman about to open the door from the other side. Instinctively, I outstretched my arm (36/37 dress sleeve’s worth) to prevent the door from swinging open, thus “saving” Miles as noted by Ava on the poster above. Funny, without coaxing an answer from her, she was able to remember this incident from months ago.
The Power of Persuasion
- When I first became a supervisor, one of my directors called me into her office to perform an exercise that I believe would provide insight regarding my character and thought process. She asked what would my superpower be if I was a superhero. Inspired by a series I was watching at the time – Jessica Jones season 1 – I believe I surprised her by referencing a little known villain by the name of Zebediah Killgrave. Killgrave’s mutant abilities included but were not limited to mind control and master manipulation. I admit this was a curious selection on my behalf, and my director’s facial response said as much. Why would I choose a villain with seemingly evil superpowers? Because, when utilized with principled and honest intent, the power of persuasion can be a valuable tool when interacting with a toddler. My communication skills are best described as thoughtfully measured, honest, reassuring, and transparent. In my profession, these traits are quite useful when speaking with colleagues, hospital staff, sales representatives, and vendors. Oh – and toddlers. Whether extracting splinters, administering breathing treatments for the first time with a scary mask, or persuading a child to trust you with a hairdryer as you quick-dry nail polish; establishing comfort and trust is essential as a parent.
Reflexes & Speed
- I am blessed and thankful that neither of my children has experienced some kind of severe calamity in their early childhood. Nonetheless, that is not to say that I’ve been immune to close calls. As I mentioned before, especially with children, there is potential danger around every corner. And while it is always good to anticipate unforeseen peril; properly reacting to said peril is paramount. Now, one doesn’t need to be exposed to gamma rays or bitten by a radioactive spider to be endowed with uncanny strength, speed, or reflexes. Fear and adrenaline will work wonders. One such time involved a mental lapse on my behalf. One afternoon, I was taking Ava for a walk through the neighborhood. As I turned to close the garage door, I failed to engage the brake on the stroller. When I refocused my attention to the stroller, it had begun its descent down the driveway. Now, I may not possess superhuman speed like Quicksilver or Flash, but this big guy performed his best Usain Bolt impression and raced down the driveway to safely secure the runaway stroller. Calamity averted.
- As a parent, trust me, your ears will become perfectly synchronized with your child’s sound, both frequency and decibel level. You will also be able to detect the absence of sound. Sometimes it can be too, too quiet. How sharp will your hearing become? One night after putting the children down for bedtime, I retired to the family room to enjoy a few television shows. Faintly, over the volume of the television, I could hear my son crying out. With super-parent speed, I vaulted up the stairs to my son’s bedroom and discovered he was having a nightmare. I retrieved him from his bed, draped him over my shoulder, and soothed him back to sleep. Another circumstance found me pulling into my driveway after a day at work. As I exited my car to grab some groceries from my trunk, the sound of a distraught little girl caught my attention. Instantly, my brain began to decipher whether the child was mine and what direction the wails were being emitted from. Grocery bags and all, I ran to the backyard and found my little girl in distress over the presence of a bumblebee. We had to move dinner inside.
Invulnerability (not really)
- After my wife and I closed on our house, we soon discovered a beehive inside a basement wall. My mother-in-law lived a few blocks away, so Stephanie was at her house tending to a newborn Ava. As I was at the house attempting to pinpoint where and how bees were filtering into our basement, I was summarily stung in the face. As I staggered to my mother-in-law’s house to put some ice on my cheek, I found Stephanie with an inconsolable child that she was unable to lay down for sleep. Swollen, burning cheek and all, I took possession of Ava, turned on Kenny G’s Greatest Hits, and cradled her to sleep on a nearby couch. No, my skin is not impenetrable, but I suppose it heals rapidly and is somewhat pain resistant – that bee sting hurt!
For more of my adventures, check out entries from my Daddy Diary for your reading enjoyment.
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
-Booker T. Washington
Sure, it would be easy enough to become enamored by the seemingly authoritative, accomplished status of a wildly successful individual. The mere presence of seductive visuals – such as expensive status symbols – has tremendous influence as they elicit, sometimes, misguided deference from the admirer. However, I challenge the reader to momentarily ignore such material objects. Instead, please divert your attention to the process that granted such accomplishment possible. What did that individual experience during their journey to success? Trust this: The strength of a gentleman’s character is forged on the anvil of adversity. Through weathering distress or difficulty, prosperity is procured by he who believes a challenge is an opportunity. An opportunity to steel your will and seize achievement despite any obstacles you might encounter. Don’t be impressed by person’s materialistic results. Those are nice and fine to look at. Nevertheless, be more impressed with the vanquished adversity that withered in the face of impending success. And then go forth and forge your own.
To be absolutely certain, the year 2016 presented quite the series of challenges that taxed me both mentally and emotionally. If a gentleman is so fortunate to live long enough, he will undoubtedly realize that life is lived through adversity and attrition. And so, I discovered myself during such a season, fighting against a torrent of unfortunate and distressing circumstances. Sure, I attained personal triumphs that varied in significance and impact, however, I registered a monumental disappointment that reduced me to tears of defeat as I sat on my couch – September 2, 2016. I remember that date very well because it was a day prior to my birthday. And it was also the day I received a rejection notice regarding a position I applied for at work.
Now, I am not a stranger to receiving bad news in my employment history. I have had certain benefits suspended. I have lived under the specter of unemployment and I have been terminated. I have received the unfortunate news that I was not selected for employment. Nevertheless, this moment of rejection resonated in a fashion that was tinged with hopelessness and defeat. The strain of fatherhood and being a husband was tremendous, and I was in the midst of collapsing under the weight. The position I sought was intended to help alleviate the burden and start correcting the course with a strong finish for the year.
Preparing for the position, I took all the necessary steps – or at least I thought – to be successful in my bid to secure the promotion. I identified the position a year before a vacancy would present itself. I periodically followed up with a team member to learn more about the position. I continued to work diligently in my role at the time; I even earned a promotion within my own department. So when an opening unexpectedly became available, I sought out to take advantage of the opportunity. I met with the director (the position was in another department), increased my research regarding the new role, and earnestly prepped myself for the impending interview for nearly a month. My performance during the interview was executed to perfection. Nonetheless, it was deemed that I was not the best candidate for the position. I was devastated.
As I opened my e-mail and read through the generic reasoning for not being selected, I sat in disbelief as if suspended in time. In my mind, this was my last gasp gambit at turning around a less than stellar year and beginning anew. I was lost. I was shrouded in uncertainty and I was terrified. And so, I sat in solemnity and solitude in tears. Later on that week, detailing my intense job preparation, my pastor told me the Lord was simply arranging something better for me and my family. Honestly, the conversation did not leave me hopeful; I was dealing with the immediate reality of confusion and doubt. Wallowing in misery is certainly not productive, so I was back on my work grind within the same week. Soon I was seeking other opportunities and networking throughout the organization. And then something amazing happened – a supervisor in my department surprisingly decided to leave the company.
And then something else amazing happened – my own supervisor encouraged me to apply for the position. Even though I have been referred to as a leader and many individuals have solicited my advice both on professional and personal levels; I never fancied myself a supervisor. When I hired into the company on an entry-level, I firmly dismissed the notion of pursuing upper management despite others urging me to do otherwise. Yet here was an opportunity that suddenly materialized in the wake of my previous disappointment. Fortuitously, I was already in grind mode from the previous job prep, so transitioning my mindset toward a new job goal was seamless. Subsequently, I earned a promotion to supervisor. I was being prepared for something greater after all. A gentleman’s failures are but a crucible, a laborious journey designed to forge character and strength. Because, even when times appear to be their most dire, failure can be success that has yet witnessed fruition.
– Carter G. Woodson
To be absolutely sure, a gentleman’s life earns new significance when he not only identifies his purpose, but he also cultivates that purpose into something tangible that benefits other individuals. It is tragically irresponsible when an accomplished gentleman attains a certain degree of success, only to be miserly and penurious with his blessings. For the blessed gentleman that enjoys prosperity and favor, it is critical that he utilizes his influence to encourage, empower, and educate the under-served, often neglected sects of our society. When benevolence and compassion no longer exists in the hearts and minds of men, the quality of life for both the fortunate and less fortunate gradually diminish. And the best quality of life is something we should all strive to achieve – for everyone. So, operating within your domain of achievement, I urge the gentleman to re-purpose his purpose and seek to promote excellence and success in the lives those whom are underprivileged. And going forward, hopefully, they will perform the same charitable act for someone else.
Firmly standing upright under an unrelenting, blistering storm of vitriolic contempt and caustic distrust, the successful gentleman remains undeterred in his journey towards triumph. Triumph – born of an unwavering resolve and complete assurance in his abilities; this gentleman cannot be denied what he has tirelessly striven for. And despite ardent attempts to trivialize his work, undermine his legitimacy, or boldly question his intellect; ignorance and hatred will be trumped every time. Believe it. No amount of mockery can shake his confidence. He is resolute. He is intelligent. He is courageous. More importantly, he recognizes that there exists individuals consumed with hubris and guided by conceit, which ultimately hastens their downfall. So, he stays in his lane and does what he does best – win. Are you a winner?