brooklyn, challenge, family, holiday, mothers day

How To Raise Kids Who Don’t Follow The Herd

No Comments 11 May 2012

Grandma Sara and Brooklyn

What better gift to give your mom on Mother’s Day than to tell her something you’ve learned from her, I ask?

“Brian, how about an iPad or something.  Wouldn’t that be a better gift?”  Well, maybe, but this is cheaper, so here goes.

One of best lessons I’ve learned from my mom is best illustrated from something that happened in 8th grade.
I really wanted these leather shoes that went a little higher up on the ankle, kind of like half-boots.  The only problem was that they were $62, which was expensive, and we didn’t have much money.  Despite this, I tried to talk my mom into getting them for me.  “They’re cool, and I really like them, and they’ll last a long time,” I reasoned with her.  And my mom was cool. If there’s something you really wanted, and you’d save for part of it yourself, she’d sacrifice and save up and buy it with you.  (For example, my younger brother Eddy really wanted a $100 bath robe, and they saved up together and he got it.  I still think he’s weird for that, though.)  However, at some point I got too impatient with the process, and uttered the words to her that were the death knell to any argument.  “But mom, all the other guys have them!”  As soon as I said it, I knew I was done.  I would never be allowed to get those shoes. My mom would never let anything like “everyone else has it” be a reason for getting something.  My mom doesn’t really get outwardly mad, but I could tell she was quietly upset that I’d even said that.  You could do things and buy things because you personally want them, because they bring you joy, because they help make you better- but never just because “everyone else is doing it.”

Syd as Grandma Sara

Because that was so ingrained, I feel it helped free my siblings and me to make decisions and act in a way that was independent to the crowds around us.  I was one of maybe 2 or 3 guys out of 100 in my fraternity that didn’t drink, one of the few guys on the football team who didn’t swear, and quite often the ‘token Christian guy’ in classes at college.  It allowed my brother Eddy to move to LA to be a model and still be himself, and my other brother Frank feel comfortable being the kid running a soundboard as a teenager with a bunch of adults.  It allowed my sister Kelly to move to Hesston, Kansas, and still avoid…well, I guess they do have herds in Hesston, Kansas, but they’re more of the bovine kind…OK, so it’s different for everyone, but you understand.

It’s not just a ‘don’t do negative things’ mindset either.  In a business sense, if I see everyone doing something one way, a little voice inside me says to ask why and see if there’s a different way.  In college, you could usually tell what a professor wanted the class to say or write in an essay, but I always wanted to give what I thought was the right answer, regardless of what the professor thought.  (Usually they won’t give you an ‘A’, but if you make your point in an entertaining way, they’ll sometimes give you a ‘B’)

You can go overboard in sort of a “If everyone else wasn’t jumping off a cliff, would you still jump?” sort of way.  You can allow yourself to get too prideful in being different just for difference sake, which is just as bad.  The idea isn’t to intentionally be like everyone, or intentionally be unlike everyone. The idea is to make decisions as yourself, regardless of what the herd is doing.

This still pays dividends as I make decisions as a husband and father.  You’ll never hear me saying or even thinking, “Well, all the other wives act this way, so my wife should act this way.”  The only thing that matters is who we are and what we should do in that particular situation.   I’m trying to get this into my 5 and 6 year-old daughters’ heads, and hopefully they’ll understand it.

So, mom, thanks for the great life lesson, and not letting me get those leather-shoe boots.  At least I know what to get you for mother’s day now.

brooklyn, daddy-daughter date

Daddy Daughter Dates

No Comments 31 December 2008

Brooklyn and I love our daughter-daddy dates. Traditionally, we go get a muffin and then go to the library. The most recent trip was to the Factory in Franklin, an old factory that has been turned into a shabby-chic sort of mall. We found a little coffee shop where we ate our muffins- Brooklyn picked out a chocolate muffin, and I had the cream cheese version. Hers was better. Brooklyn wanted to go into an art store, so we checked out some impressionist paintings. We have a Parisian impressionist painting at our house, complete with Eiffel tower. As such, impressionist paintings seemed to be her favorite. We then went over to the library, where we read a couple of books -Elmo Learns About Computers and Pinochio’s Shapes and Sizes. At just over $3, it was a cheap date, but as always it was a lot of fun.


But Daddy, I want to sit in a big chair!


Daddy, can I get a large muffin?


Yay, Daddy-Daughter Date!


brooklyn, hug, syd

Brooklyn’s Good Hug

No Comments 10 September 2008


On Saturday a couple and their two kids came over to see our house. They’re building the same model house as ours, and wanted to get ideas on where to put lighting, furniture, etc. They have a five year old girl, and four year old boy who we invited to play and watch TV in the living room while Krista showed the couple around.

On the ground floor our rooms form a big circle around our stairway, and the girls love to run laps around it when they’re excited. Sydney was excited to have kids over, so as soon as Krista put her down to show the couple our kitchen, Syd took off on a dead run. The boy and girl thought she was cute, so they ran after her and eventually caught up to her near a corner in the wall. They stopped her, and, with one on them on each side of her, proceed to give her a hug. I was keeping an eye on this from about 10 feet away, to make sure they weren’t choking her or tackling her. To me, it was just two kids being nice and giving a baby a hug.

This view was not shared by Brooklyn. As soon as she saw the kids stop Sydney and grab on to her, she sprinted up and put Sydney in a bear hug. Even though Brooklyn was smaller than the other two kids, she was able to wrestle Sydney out of their hugs. Then, still holding Syd in a bear hug, Brooklyn pushed Sydney into the corner, with her back to the other kids in an effort protect Sydney. After a few seconds, Sydney tried to get out, but Brooklyn wouldn’t let her go. I still hadn’t quite figured out what was going on, but eventually it dawned on me that Brooklyn had ‘rescued’ Sydney. Brooklyn let her go when I got over there, and Sydney took off at a dead run back into the living room.

Brooklyn went over to Krista and said ‘Hold hands, mommy, hold hands, I want Sydney.’ She was trying to get all four of us to be holding hands. Then, when the two kids wanted to play with her toys, she wouldn’t let them have them. Finally, she let the girl play with her drum. I tried to talk her into letting them play with her toys, but I wasn’t too hard on her- I knew she wasn’t being bratty, she just didn’t want to have anything to do with kids who would try (to her) to hurt her little sister.

After the couple left, I told Krista what had happened, and she just about started crying with pride. Krista said, ‘Wow, that’s why she was giving that boy the icy glare the whole time. I thought Brooklyn was just really tired and needed a nap.’

We brought Brooklyn over and praised her for hugging Sydney to protect her. I asked her what happened, and she said, “Kids trying to get Sydney!”. Of course, the net result was that she thought we were praising her for bear hugging Sydney, rather than actually protecting her, which meant Sydney spent most of the rest of the evening firmly in Brooklyn’s arms whether she wanted to be or not. But we’re still really proud of her.


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