Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SOCCER DAD

It has been a minute since I last checked in. Shiloh has matriculated into the little girl stage quite nicely, thank you. She can't go anywhere unless she has her assortment of dolls and stuffed animals. When I try to put a three object limit for church, for example, she looks at me like I'm nuts. So then it gets into , "you can bring three, and take one in with you". She'll haggle me up to two, thoughfully explaining how the one she would bring would be lonely and have no one top play with. Somehow that always seems to make perfect sense to me and so two it is.

Our latest adventure has been a five and under (5U) soccer league near the house. Same league her older brother Cyrus played in when  he was close to her age. I remember wishing I could call the shots as the head coach and how differently my approach as a "former professional athlete" would be vastly superior to that of the perpertrating stepdad who donned the Head Coach golf shirt.

Be careful what you wish for. Even though I checked the "assistant  coach" box on the application I was of course named as the first ever coach of the Pink Fairies. When deciding on a team name, the first suggestion was undiscernable and not wanting to put undue spotlight attention on the five year old girl, I asked for any more suggestions. One of the girls blurted out FAIRIES. Her mom threw the Pink part in for good measure.

Let me go back to that application process. You would think I was applying for NORAD clearance with all the quizzes, test and handbook studying required. About two days into it I was about to bag it. Coupled with Commissioner Tanika constanly checking up on me to see if I had completed the certification. I mean I get it, you want to  make sure coaches are well versed in child abuse, concussion awareness, skill development, and all the rest. But I kind've thought it would be a roll the balls out and let them have at it kind of experience.

 I worked with Shiloh for a good month before the league actually started. You can find pretty much anything you want on youtube. She was really good and I thought could dominate her first time playing soccer. What I didn't realize was that she was one of the youngest girls at four and a couple of them had played in organized leagues before. So they ran circles around my little girlie girl at first. But she is slowly catching on to the focus it takes to compete successfully. My first big coaching decision is to find a way to break her and my niece up at practices and games. They're dancing and singing and chasing butterflies. Everything but trying to kick that dang soccer ball...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

THE FAMILY BLEND...

The "blended family" can pose its own unique set of challenges. Shiloh is my youngest of seven children. Yes , that's right seven. There are a total of four women responsible for birthing those seven kids. No, I am not a practicing Muslim nor olskool Big Love type Mormon. I only wish we had that type of "sister wife" comraderie with my "four baby mamma's". Though I must remove the current wife from that grouping, she would not take kindly to being referred to as such. During our more than fifteen years together, she has  shown time and again that she has my back, whatever issues we've had to conjointly stroll through. As you can well imagine, things can get pretty tense trying to make it all work. Varying circumstances and personalties in addition to expectations and obligations, it often times is every bit as confusing as it sounds. You toss in other personal demons I've battled over the years and you kind of get the snapshot of what life for MJ is like in its present rendering . For Shiloh's recent fourth birthday it was attendance by selective invite only. There are off shoot elements in the "blend" that have an oil and water affinity for one another. We have to judiciously rotate birthdays and holidays to make sure the proper balance is achieved. It is distressing for me because I would love for this to  be one of those in a  perfect world situations where peace and harmony abound. It's not even close as of this writing, but a fellow can still dream.

I make no apologies, it is what it is. And don't get me wrong, there are many joyous and wonderful moments. Just not with everyone under the same roof or coexisting in the same location. For someone who watched his parents spend fifty five years of mostly wedded bliss together, the outlook can seem daunting. The Family Afterward chapter  of a widely read self help manual speaks about the chaos and confusion the recovery process can have on those closest to the recoveree. Years of dysfunctional behavior and attitudes take their inevitable toll. The long road to reconstruction is a trying one, but well worth the journey. The bed is made and I intend to sleep in it. Sometimes I wish that's all I would've done...

Friday, June 14, 2013

THE HIGH ROAD

Rarely have I been as excited about an upcoming Father's Day. My son Cyrus and Granddaughter Khalilah will be baptized in a ceremony immediately following church service Sunday. My other kids will pay their respects at some point in the day, always a welcomed chance to interact together as a family. And just to think, I was not sure about becoming a father again at fifty. Shiloh and I have this very pure relationship. She has the utmost trust in me to do what is best for her. She's too young to articulate this sentiment, but just from looking into her beautiful brown eyes I know it to be true. I am indeed a very lucky man to have this continual blessing to care for and nurture on a daily basis. I just asked her if she knew Father's Day was approaching. She told me she did and that she had a present for me, a watch. I hope she didn't jump the gun, but even so, the consideration  for her Daddy was heartwarming. Raising a little girl on a daily basis is so different than it was with the five boys. Shiloh and I can spend hours hanging out with each other. We are really into writing letters and numbers. I trace out one or the other, or use dots as a guide and she has the look of tremendous accomplishment when she completes the task. She is insatiable in her thirst to learn, always begging for more. I have to suggest a break here and there to prevent her from becoming too obsessive about getting it just right. We swim, take neighborhood strolls, workout on the Bosu ball, hang at the park, you name it. A couple of days ago she picked a flower from our yard and handed it to me. I asked her what it was for, she told me she loved me and that "Dad's Day"was coming soon. Thank Goodness for Little Girls...

Monday, December 31, 2012

CUTENESS UPDATE

Time for another of my tri-monthly updates in this Father at Fifty ordeal. In less than four years it will be Fatherhood at Sixty...great. Shiloh is three years old and her personality is emerging and evolving. The one trait that is most appealing is her concern for Daddy. If I bump my head she will immediately ask, "are you all right Daddy?" She will give my arm an impromptu rub down and willingly shares whatever treats she has. There is a natural shyness around those she first meets, but is all the way live around us at home. One of our favorite past times is dancing  to youtube oldies at the computer. She works up a pretty good lather and will instruct me on the proper technique whenever I try and impress her with some of my old school dance moves. "This is how you do it Daddy, like this." Can't wait until she turns five so we can enroll her in Debbie Allen's Dance Academy.

She is a regular at the family operated child development center. Her best friend is a little girl named Krishay. It's in Inglewood, and she fits in nicely. Her best boy bud is Christopher who is a little chocolate, cute as a button dude. When I pick her up, if I give him a high five, I have to give everyone in the class one too. If I hug my niece Noel, the other kids line up and ask for their hugs too. It's all kind of cute and I am happy to oblige. Never know how much affection they get at home.

The funniest moments with Shiloh at home is listening to her chastise me. It is not an over the top, hash rebuke. But rather one of frustration and consternation. Like when I recently dropped a portion of her chicken nuggets on the carpet. "Dadd-ee", she implores. What else can I do but say, sorry, and kiss them up to God.

I wish that Kiss it up to God gesture was rooted in reality. It would be tantamount to having my own reset button when I have mucked things up slightly past that point of no return. As we approach the New Year, I feel my trust in God being tested daily when it comes to Shiloh, and the rest of those close to me. I pray for His protective covering on them all, like I'm sure parents in recent tragedies prayed for their kids. It is impossible to make sense of it all, as I choose to focus on those things I can control. That is my joy and reverance for this gift of life as represented in Shiloh. And to think, I was reluctant to embrace the idea of being a Father once again at Fifty. It has turned into one of those life changing blessings that only God can provide. I Kiss Her Up To Him, every day...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

SHE'S THREE YEARS OLD...

The birthday party is behind us. Nothing like having a house full of sugar fueled, rambunctious 2-5 year olds pillaging the old abode. Some kid named Colton brandishing a Barbie doll like a noonchuk and belting anyone who came within reach was probably the most memorable highlight for me. The hired face painter set up her emcampment around the patio table. This seemed to be the most popular venue at the party. That and the mini-trampoline in the den, languishing right behind my favorite chair. So much for the Ryder Cup. Interesting how the boys declined to have their faces splashed with multi-colored hues in the pattern of rainbows, and puppy dogs, and some other sort of weird Masai Warrior renditions, that for your basic looking white lady, actually appeared pretty authentic. I half heartedly expected a groundswell of muffled chants saying, ZULU, ZULU, ZULU, ZULU... Actually their was one boy that did get into the face painitng. Well, not exactly a boy, seeing how it was my 23 yearold son Josh. His was a solid depiction of a butterfly, all star spangled bannered out  in red, white, and blue. He posted a picture of himself on Facebook with his face painted at a Lupus charity run recently. Is this something I should be concerned about?
Shiloh, the party girl, had a great time. She alternated between the basketball court outside, where her guest entertained themselves with tricycles and scooters and...not much else. We didn't want to do the musical chairs deal with kids this young and aggressive. Potential lawsuits can be expensive. The pin the pony tail on the princess game required a little more neuro-muscular discipline than these youngsters possessed. Except for Bruce Lee Colton, of course. We did have the requisite Pinada (Sorry, can't do the curly Q over the N thing). Our handyman, Raynor, used every ounce of his creativity in making sure the Princess Pinanda was perfectly centered on the court. While observing rope lines running from rooftops to palm trees to telephone poles, to being draped over the top of the basket backboard, I wondered if he had ever served time with the Mexican Special Ops. Had to cajole the liitle crumbsnatchers to let their animalistic natures manifest themselves. They would coyly take the decorative broomhandle like stick and gently tap the thing, like they were afraid to hurt the Princess. It wasn't until my nephew got his turn that things got interesting, Princess be damned. Though we had to ditch the bandana we used to blindfold him. Something about that nasty eye infection of his that caused Josh to alertly and discreetly yell to me, "look at his eye, throw that thing away". The honor method was invoked, sans blindfold. Now, what that usually means if you are like  me, is that you at  find a way to take a little peak. My other nephew, Gene Gene, would have made Abe Lincoln proud. Not only did he not take a sneak peek, but he nearly knocked himself out in the process. Got to love his ethics though. Once the Pinada was thoroughly breached, all hell broke loose. I had to put a moratorium on the older kids and their total disregard for the toddlers' safety. My 9 year old daughter Jasmine was particularly upset, questioning the fairness of it all, while trying to hold on to the 15 pieces of candy in her hands. While 9 year old (yes, this is how we do it) granddaughter Khalilah anxiously panted a few yards away waiting to display another Panther pounce on her Gummy Bear prey. The young ones meticulously gathered their treats with happy smiles plastered on their colorfully painted faces. Just what this party needed, more sugar...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Moriah's Reflections

A Snickers and a lemon soda
after every chemotherapy.
The pain my brother attained
never seemed to be fair to me.
Josh has cancer.
Blood cells from hell
rebel like black panthers.
Prancing on hollow surface with
souls colder than tap dancers.
Mom just wants answers,
Josh wants to get older.
All I want is my snickers and a cold lemon soda..
50 dollars a shot.
I’m not talking drinking Jack,
but about needles invading,
penetrating, into my brother’s back.
I learned to be grateful
for what I have that others lack,
because here my brother’s dying
and my life is still in tact.
Claustrophobia sets in
as my parents are surrounded by the facts.
All I cared about was leaving
so I could go and get my snacks.
I asked mom for a haircut
so that Josh and I could match.
He was still big brother,
so we were attached like a patch
cut from the same mold.
It started getting cold
and Josh was bald by now
so he’d adapt to wearing hats.
I was young but followed rules.
It wasn’t cool to miss school,
so my mother lied and said there was none that day
so I wouldn’t have the blues.
But when we drove passed,
my friend was walking to class
and my tears grew as glossy
as freshly polished glass.
He was at a crucial age,
as I was missing only days,
he missed the whole second grade.
But as a way to aid against this plague
his classmates made plays
that he could play throughout his stay.
As he cherished everyday,
he perished in his weight.
My parents perished from the wait,
Josh would share with me his toys.
They were praying they wouldn’t have to
hold a wake for their boy.
Each day he would awake
they would gain an ounce of joy,
that God’s angel of death
had not yet been deployed.
After 5 years he was healed.
It couldn’t have happened quicker.
It was all in God’s timing,
He showed He is a listener.
Josh is 23 now.
Got the weight back and getting bigger.
And I’m still addicted to my lemon soda
and my Snickers.

WE'RE BACK...

It's been a while since I last made a blog entry. Life being life , I guess. The hustle and bustle nature, the cares of this world, trying to keep ends meetings, are all legtimate reasons for my prolonged absence. It was initially amusing charting the periodic progress I was attempting to make as an older man with a young child. But as could be expected, the novelty soon diminished and the business of responsible parenting became paramount. That is not say that the experience doesn't continue to produce those special moments. The latest of which is a phase Shiloh is in now where she constantly prepares my meals. Sometime invisible ones she'll make in the miniature pots and pans she received as a recent gift. She thrust it in my face and request that I eat it. How can I say no to that? The spaghetti the other night was especially delish, though she made no mention of what sauce accompanied it. If I can locate my long ago invisible friend, Fred, maybe he could shed some light on the culinary makeup of  these meals.  Closer to reality, Shiloh made me an actual peanut butter sandwich on a tiny hamburger bun, at least the top half of it. I must say she did an exceptioonal job, though she ate most of it. It is such a profound privilege to be the father of such a considerate and sweet young lady. Especially when it comes to feeding her daddy, a trend  that hopefully, will last for quite some time.