The Journey

Well, I’ve made it. I wrote one article a week for a year. Thanks to those of you who read all, most, some, or even one of them.  It’s a lesson that proves persistence and consistency are key in getting results.
If one had assigned me, last May, to write 53 articles for the coming year, I would have been a little daunted. But, as they say, every journey begins with the first step. Writing one article a week is manageable. It is also very important that it is unwaverable.
I had to write the article every week, whether I “felt it” or not.  I never skipped a week and then burdened myself with multiple articles for the next week. It’s too easy to tread on that slippery slope. To start making deals with yourself…”Aw, I’ll do an extra next week”…leads to “I’ll do four at the end of the month on a weekend.” It becomes easier and easier to put things off and behold, sadly, that is the inevitable entrance to Nevernever(getting things done) Land.
So, Cash, my ultimate lesson for you in this one year of writings, is that anything is achievable if you’re willing to be accountable and work for it. Don’t put anything off! Life is too short.
Most of my articles were cutesy and captured my sentiments that week. Some articles were better than others but at least I hope I achieved some quality in the quantity.
I’m not giving up writing but I’m not going to write just to produce and prove a point any longer. I’ve got other projects to get done.
If I write an article now, it will be because I really feel the need to express something.
I have to thank my wife for virtually every picture I posted along with my articles this past year. Cute pics of Cash were my bait to get readers so I owe most of my readership to Meghan and Cash.
A picture may be worth 1000 words but for me, a non-picturetaker, I’ll stick with the 1000 words.
So, Cash, one day you may be the only one who ever reads all these out of some kind of curiosity about your old man and your first year of life. If so, I hope you’ll find a few pearls of wisdom and a few laughs. But, mostly, I just hope it communicates how profoundly proud I am to be your dad and how much I love you.
You must know, your mom and I gladly and willingly pushed the life we knew aside to make room for you. To set a place you could thrive in this world.
We didn’t do this to raise someone to be average or timid or fearful.
A longtime friend paid me the compliment of which I’m probably most proud. “Chris, you live your life like an experiment.”  Maybe a nice way of saying I’ve wandered quite a bit geographically, careerwise, and intellectually. I have to say it was the only way to go for me.
Cash, please live your life like an experiment.  Because I don’t know that the answers I’ve found, will be for the questions you have. That’s on you.  Please know you were brought into the world to flourish. Life is big. Poke it around the edges and discover what brings you joy.  Never settle. If you have a thought you want to chase, chase it down and see where it leads. Keep curious. Don’t worry about what others think. Work to serve your own good opinion. Love your life. Fear has no basis here.
Failure is too big of a word and is discussed way too often.  It’s just trying until you get it right, however long that takes. But whatever it is, set your mind, set a plan and set yourself up for success. Every journey begins with the first step.
Now that you’re on your feet and walking around, I can’t wait to see where you go from here.
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Dear Momma

As dictated to his Daddy by Cash Michael Kennedy.

Dear Momma,

On this impending Mother’s Day, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on your efforts and thank you for watching me. Every. Single. Day. And putting me to bed. Every. Single. Night.

Thank you for playing with me everyday.

Your goofy games jibe with my goofy moods. I think I most prefer our chase games. Those never get old. I’m always surprised when you pop out around the corner. Cracks me up. Every. Time.

When I first wake in my shade-darkened room while my white noise machine hums (both of which you insisted on buying to help ensure I get sound sleep), you come rushing in to greet me with enthusiastic hugs, kisses and “I love yous.” (Sometimes, it’s daddy but he mainly grunts a “Hey buddy” and hugs me. Here and there, he’ll toss in a smooch on top of my head. Not a big kisser that guy. Not like you anyway.

Then you’re off to making me breakfast: working the blender, microwave and kitchen utensils, you whip me up a healthy, wholesome breakfast Every. Single. Day. Not to mention, lunch, snacks, and dinner!

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I know it’s not easy being my daily guardian. I’m hard to keep up with as I’m getting quicker and quicker an climbing up on more and more furniture.

I’m constantly changing…and I’m not just referring to my diapers-which I applaud your cheerful disposition while doing-even singing songs about it,

“Stinky butt no more, stinky butt no more..!”

Pretty sure that’s an original and I’m proud to have provided the inspirational nuggets for that tune.

I appreciate your efforts to expose me to the world. Belting me into my car seat-the one you had daddy install, check, double-check, triple-check and take into the certification facility to officially check before I could ride in.

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You’ve driven me to music class where I dance and play instruments. To my art class, where I scribble and mess around colors on paper.

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To the Children’s Museum, where I engage with many exhibits-my favorites are the water room and my car on the second level. I sometimes let other kids come in and ride shotgun but I’m always at the wheel. And last but not least, visiting the chickens on the roof. And yes, I’m with you in trying to convince daddy we need a chicken.

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I see all the pure love you put into your efforts to care for me, to raise me, to nurture me.

I know Daddy loves me too. I can tell he looks forward to playing with me and taking me on walks to the park after he gets home from work. But, he’s gone most of the day. (He sure is handsome though).

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But, you’re beautiful, Momma.

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I know I get my eyelashes, big eyes, and long arms from you…along with a lot of my dance moves. Dip it Low.

I know Motherhood is incredibly demanding and exhausting. But, you have never shown that to me or made me feel I’m any kind of a burden. You always make me feel like you’re so happy to have me around you all the time and there’s no place else you’d rather be. I feel the same.

So, in case you ever feel that being a Mom is a thankless job, it’s not with me.

THANK YOU, MOMMA.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

I love you too,

Cash

 

 

 

 

Know thy Shadow

As I came home from work a couple weeks ago, I opened the door and Cash dashed right under my arm to head outside.

Now, that palatable weather as arrived in Wisconsin, Cash is taking full advantage for the first time in his life. He yearns to get outside as much as he can.

This picture of him seeing his shadow strikes me as his evolution of awareness of himself, of his body frame and of his movements gain ground.

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Cash discovered this self recognition inside the house in front of a mirror and now, another perspective courtesy of Mother Nature, outside the house.

This brings up the point that all parents must face in teaching their kids self-awareness.  As Shakespeare once wrote, “To thine own self be true.”  Well, you can’t truly be true to thine self, if thine doesn’t truly know thine self.  Regular self-reflection is important for all of us to engender understanding of ourselves. Knowing why we do what we do and why we like what we like are key factors in being a happy and satisfied person.

In this respect, making mistakes are not big deal. If you’re aware how the mistake happened, you can correct it and learn from it. Great. If you make mistakes and don’t understand them, you can misplace blame on others and perpetuate you making the same mistake over and over. We all know these people.  In my less enlightened times, I am these people.

Like the sun on my son, the world outside you will give you a perspective on yourself from the environment, from those around you, that is not possible for you to have on your own. So, don’t fight it. Embrace it, observe it, learn what you can from it.  The only way to avoid your own shadow is to stay inside.   What kind of life is that?

I was once told, “You can do whatever you want in your own cave, live by your own rules or lack thereof. But if you want to get outside, you’ve got to adapt yourself to your new environment.”

Your understandings of yourself in the cave may get reconsidered when you step out of the cave. Be aware of it. Don’t fight it. Accept it. It’s part of growth and will get you closer to your true, complete self, than you could ever get on your own. Inside.

So, Cash, I hope you keep rushing outside for new experiences. You’re now part of the great big world. Observe it, embrace it, learn from it.

We, your parents, promise to help you find your place in it.

 

 

 

Clear and Consistent

I’ve learned the best coaches, teachers, and parents all share a common modus operandi–clear and consistent communication and consequences of their expectations.

I realized the importance of these two traits especially in my years as a teacher/coach observing others in my profession.

There were times when I, as an adult, was confused by another teacher’s directions so I can empathize with the students not being sure what was expected of them. Because the teacher wasn’t clear, the students, understandably, did not abide by what the teacher expected to happen…but didn’t communicate well. Teachers and coaches, being human, would grow frustrated by the students’ non-compliance and then grow frustrated and sometimes angry at the kids. You never want to be that teacher (or parent or coach) who is constantly chasing after and hollering at out-of-control students.

Whenever I had non-compliance from multiple students, I learned to ask myself before I scolded, “Was I clear in my instructions?” Or ask the students, “Do you understand what I asked you to do?”

Sometimes I hadn’t communicated what I intended. Other times, students understood but wanted to test me and my guidelines. At those times, it was important to follow through with the consequences I’d laid out-usually time out of the activity.

Years ago, I coached a group of Kindergartners and on our way to the field, we had to cross a small stretch of parking lot. There was a distinct line by the crosswalk where the kids could wait. On the first day of class, kids would always try to bolt across the lot ahead of me. (Oh, to have the energy of a 6 year old!)  I loved the eagerness at participating and didn’t want to squash that by screaming at them to wait, to get back every day we had class. I learned the best tactic was to gather them all by the line that first day and explain that the parking lot could be dangerous because of moving cars and that the only way they were to cross, was at my direction.  Failure to comply would result in a substantial “timeout” from class participation.

This was a valuable consequence because at that age, they all want to participate.  I clearly pointed out the line where they had to wait. I even had them do a few practice runs by leaving the room and stopping at the line. If any kid took a step or even half a foot over the line, I would walk over and point to their foot.  For the most part, that was all I needed to do to set the tone for the rest of the school year. I didn’t have to chase them down every day and they enjoyed having boundaries clearly laid out. It freed me up to be friendly and open rather than uptight and preoccupied with repeating myself over and over throughout the year.

It has to start with the coach, the teacher, the parent being clear on what you want and then communicating that clearly and following through on any discipline when necessary. The more clear I was with myself, the more clearly I could communicate it to them.

Meghan is very good about pulling me aside and ensuring we’re on the same page in what in our expectations and communication with Cash.

So when Cash tests us, we pass the parent test. Clearly. Consistently.

Reservations for Cash

The advice to parents of 16 month olds says to know your child’s temperament then accommodate situations accordingly to best suit him.

Meghan and I have noticed Cash assesses before he acts.  Take him to a gathering and he’ll take in the surroundings before he engages.

So, as tuned in parents, we won’t force him to prematurely interact before he’s ready to. And to be clear with us and him that this doesn’t make him standoffish or cold. It doesn’t make him any less of a people person. Truth is, he is giddy at the sight of other kids. He loves every extended family member he meets. He smiles at strangers and wins over passersby all the time. He just prefers to observe his environment before he becomes a part of it.

Basically, he may not hug you when he enters the room but likely will when he exits.

We won’t criticize this disposition or make him feel its wrong.  The fact he generally thinks before he acts is a positive attribute that I’m proud of and one I think will serve him well. I’m very similar. Apparently, I was the same way as a child and that has pretty much held true my whole life.

I enjoy observing and taking in my environment-lends itself nicely to my being a writer.

Not saying I’m a wallflower but I don’t need to be center stage. Often, the “center stagers” while entertaining, aren’t usually very good at being aware of the room beyond what they are doing.

Meghan is more of a dive in and find out after. She jokes that as a child she would grab the stove top burner, then ask, “Is this hot?!” while her the skin of her palm scorched.  In contrast, Cash points to the burner and says, “hot.” I’m thankful for that awareness and so are the palms of his hands.

 

So our parental wish? We want Cash to be a risk-taker…but a calculated one.

Because Cash is the type who looks before he leaps, we know he’s going to land on his own two feet.

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Big shoes to fill

As I’ve previously written about Cash’s extensive shoe collection https://wordpress.com/post/wisconsindadger.com/416 when he couldn’t even walk yet, I’m happy to update that he is a consistent walker now and putting his shoes-and ours-to use.

Cash hasn’t reached the stage where he seems to have any preference for the clothes he wears but he does have  strong feelings about which shoes he wears. Even in the house, he always wants to wear shoes.

At first, we just thought it was a quirk or a novelty but then we realized it’s also a practicality. We have wood floors throughout and those onesie jammies with the feet attached don’t provide great traction.

Note: Some jammies and socks do have rubber gripping bottoms but we can’t always provide those for him. Meghan already does at least one laundry load per day. So, the shoes cover it for him.

Lately, Cash has tired of his (roughly) 30 pairs of shoes and boots and sneaked into Mom and Dad’s sneakers.

He, impressively, moves along in stride in the oversized footgear and clomps throughout the house.

As the song goes, while our Cash ‘walks the line‘, we must keep our eyes wide open all the time.  

This kid’s no loafer.

 

 

 

 

Following in Daddy’s footsteps

I was looking forward to this day since Cash Michael Kennedy was first born over 15 months ago.

Been a long time coming and lots of early mornings and late nights but it’s paid off because the University of Wisconsin football Badgers have offered Cash a position on their roster in the Fall of 2033!

Wisconsin is joining the trend of other big time programs early age offerings. See Ohio State letter below from coach Urban Meyer to an Ohio one year old.

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The UW’s only contingencies are that Cash score a 22 or above on the ACT’s and maintain a 2.7 GPA through high school so that he can gain admittance to the university.

These shouldn’t be a problem as he’s a smart kid. He can already identify his mouth, nose, ears, eyes, wee wee, and as of yesterday, his elbow.

It’s very likely Ivy League schools will be soliciting his gridiron services as well. We’ll just see what kind of financial incentives they can provide. I can only imagine tuition, considering current costs of college, will be about half a million dollars by then…roughly. He hasn’t said anything but I still think he’s leaning Wisconsin’s way.

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Cash is very pleased with Wisconsin’s offer but wants to weigh all of his options before committing to the Badgers. He has about 16 more years to consider the offer, which should give him adequate time to make his decision. Don’t want to rush in to these kinds of things.

Daddy is very proud and hoping he wears my old number for my old team. Looks better on him if you ask me.

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But wherever he decides to go, I want him to be happy and find the humor in life.

Like we do on April Fool’s Day.