Monday, October 21, 2013

Greatest Common Factor

I’m not sure when it happened, but it was sometime soon after getting married. I used to be a night owl. Up till 1 or 2 every night, and up by 6 during the week and 9 on the weekends. Now, during the week, I’m usually in bed by 10:30. Occasionally it’s earlier, and rarely it’s much earlier. The joke is, that I am turning into my mother because I’m also now an earlier riser, no matter if I want to be or not. Part of me can’t stand this new schedule, but then I sort of like being up early. I get to work by 7, but I’m usually 10-15 minutes early. Best of all, I’m off at 4. While most of the world still has another hour or two of work, I’m already heading home. That’s when it feels like I’m stealing time. To be honest, I’m not sure who I’m stealing it from. Now the idea of working till 5, actually gives me some anxiety. Although for me, anxiety comes with breathing.

So last night I stayed up to watch some of the Colts and Broncos, and once the game looked pretty much locked up, I turned in for the night. Meanwhile, the Kyd was up late doing some homework that she had forgotten about. I was equally annoyed that she waited till 11 on Sunday night to magically remember, and proud that she actually remembered. She had math homework, and she’s really come a long way. English was always her strong suit, she’s an amazing reader (both in quantity consumed and retention) and a very good writer. Math used to give her fits, but now she really enjoys it. Great news for me, since I was always a big fan of math, plus I’m actually good at the math she’s doing. But once she gets to high school, I may have to get a tutor of my own, just in case she asks for help.

A little before midnight, I heard my wife ask “are you awake?” I wanted to answer in the negative, but she’s too smart for that. Turns out, the Kyd was stumped by Greatest Common Factors. And I still like Greatest Common Factors, which I think is probably some sort of evidence of OCD. I’ll often see a license plate on the car in front of me, and stay behind that car until I’m sure I’ve figured out the Greatest Common Factor. But times sure have changed, now they teach kids to find the Greatest Common Factor using some cake method. Sure, every kid needs to start craving sweets while doing their homework.

Truth be told, I was thrilled to be up late. I loved that I could help, and while she usually can’t stand for me to help with homework, she was completely receptive, appreciative, and patient. This all reminded me why I became a night owl to begin with. When my parents always kept me on a strict bedtime, I was sure I was missing something. So as soon as “bed-time” was removed from my life, I made sure to stay up as late as I possibly could. I wasn’t going to miss anything. I hope I haven’t missed too many nights like last night, and that I’ll never miss another. But if 5 Hour Energy drinks cause cancer, please, don’t tell me just yet. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Blurred Lines

Like so many others, I am a creature of habit. My wife may think it occasionally borders on OCD, and she’s not wrong. Recently, I tweaked (I might have to retire the use of “tweak” as it’s just way too close to “twerk” but I digress) my bedtime routine. I used to just put on the television, and find something that was just interesting enough that I didn't want to flip the channel, but lacked action and humor. Usually it ended up with me watching an episode of “Lockup” or “Drugs Inc.” Then, in an effort to make it easier for my wife to fall asleep, I swapped an iPad in place of the television.

Now I look for documentaries that fit the bill; interesting enough that it holds my attention for 20 minutes, but not so interesting that it gives me a second wind. Last night I found Miss Representation.  Miss Representation is a documentary that delves into how the media portrays women, and how that impacts young girls to teens, to women and even men. See, it doesn't even sound all that enthralling, right? Sure, I've noticed how almost every commercial includes a beautiful woman and her beauty is the focus of the spot, no matter if the ad itself is selling perfume or a hamburger.

But what really hooked me, was listening to a group of high school girls talk about their stories. Hearing tales of how they worried about their weight in 5th grade. As well as the stories about how harsh women are to each other. It really struck a chord with me, as a father, husband, uncle, son, brother and as a compassionate human-being. I couldn't help but think about how we could diminish the impact of the onslaught of images and influences the Kyd sees on a daily basis. Unfortunately, and predictably, I haven’t been able to come up with a silver bullet. Instead, I've decided that I’ll sit and watch Miss Representation with down with my wife and daughter. I’ll do my best to not say anything. I’m sure the Kyd will be plenty embarrassed by all the shots of cleavage and skimpy outfits. It’ll be hard for me to keep my lips sealed, but I’m hoping she takes away two thoughts.

One, it’s all crap. Her worth isn't derived from her body. Winning the adoration of a boy isn't the end game, and she should never sell herself short for any reason.

Secondly, I want her to know that I’m aware of the burden society puts on her and her friends. Then maybe one day down the road when I make a crack about how she’ll never be allowed to wear the house in a skirt as short as the one that girl over there is wearing, isn’t about me wanting to prevent her from attracting boys or because I want her to be afraid of sex. I just want her to be seen for the smart, funny, talented, beautiful, compassionate, and creative young woman she is. And more than wanting her to be seen that way, I want her to see herself as smart, funny, talented, beautiful, compassionate and creative young woman she is.

Maybe she’ll start to understand why I refuse to listen to Miley Cyrus’ latest song, when it comes on the radio when we’re on our way to volleyball practice. And maybe I need to turn the channel the next time a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on during the basketball game we’re watching. Or maybe I just need to be sure she hears me compliment her, as well as her mother’s sense of humor, intelligence and kind heart.