Father Forgets

With my 2019 reading challenge over, I strive to continue the momentum and keep on reading. Currently I am reading Dale Carnegie’s classic: How to win friends and influence people.

In the book I came across “Father Forgets” a poem by W. Livingston Larned.

This poem touched on so many feelings that I and probably all fathers get.

As fathers we sometimes feel frustrated, impatient, and frankly angry with our kids. We are often too hard on our children and forget they are just that; children.

This poem reminded me to be more calm, patient and understanding with the little ones.

So I just wanted to share and hope that someone else discovers this touching poem and it’s poignant message.

Father Forgets

By W. Livingston Larned

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive—and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding—this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy—a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

KOBE

When a celebrity dies, I don’t usually feel much. I never fully understood how people feel something for someone they never met. From Prince to Michael Jackson, maybe I was to young or didn’t get it as a fan. I knew what they meant to the era and understood paying respects but it always felt odd to me reading peoples messages about a stranger.

But today was different, when I saw the news, this unreal feeling took over me. I spent most of the day mopping around and trying to understand why I felt this way. Like most fans I never meet Kobe and don’t actually know him. This made no sense.

But then it hit me. I am 5 years younger than Kobe which means that his 20 years career coincided with my formative years as a basketball fan. I was 12 when he was drafted and 32 when he retired.

I realized how many memories I had because of this man.

How many posters I cut out from SLAM magazines and posted in my bedroom as a teen.

How I went from loving him as a young player when he won the dunk contest, to hating the Lakers when they started winning (Spurs fan here). Then to liking the Lakers again after Kobe beat me into submission with his competitive fire.

I feared and respected his talents so much that I eventually became a fan. My sister and I used to scream at the TV every time he had the ball down the stretch, it was infuriating how often he broke our teams hearts.

81 points!

I remember laying on the couch at my parents house watching the Lakers play the Raptors and midway through the third quarter calling one of my boys (pre-group chat days) and saying “Are you F-ing watching this?” We were giddy watching greatness destroy our team. That’s how good he was.

I remember the 50 points+ games streak , I used to check the scores at night just to see what he did, it was insane.

Even if you are not a basketball fan, when someone throws something in the garbage and yells “Kobe” you know what they are referring to. That’s how much he meant to my generation. He was more than a basketball player. He was a verb.

I remember watching him in his final game, with father time clearly having taken a toll on his body, he retired his way, gun slinging and scoring 60 points one last time. I actually stood up in my living room that night alone to give him a slow clap standing ovation.

The young M.J era happened before my love of ball but I had the Privilege to see all of prime KOBE. He was M.J for my generation.

I know that today there are tons of pieces out there dedicated to him. This is mine.

Thank you for the Memories. Rest in Peace Kobe- Mamba Out.

Pierre D.

New year! New me?

New year New me ! You are what you eat! You reap what you sow! Monkey see monkey do! We have all heard of those sayings.

The other day while I was on the living room floor stretching, getting ready for a workout, Norah-Elise came in and said “daddy I want to excersize too”. She dropped on the floor and started doing burpees. Just like that instead of my ordinary weight lifting session I was on the floor going through a bodyweight circuit with her. I certainly didn’t wake up with the intention of teaching my daughter that fitness was important or fun or even something to do. But somehow I managed to passively pass on a habit.

I play basketball every Tuesday and my son always wants to come but since it ends at 10 pm I’ve always said no. Well, the last week of school before the Christmas break I decided to take him with me. To my surprise he watched us play and stayed off my phone. On the ride home before falling asleep he told me he wants to be big so he can play with us. I was giddy inside because ball is life and now my son is looking to the future (the next Steph Curry,no?!?)

I look forward to the day my kids ask me to play and work out with them. I want to be able to play, keep up and hold my own when they are 16, 20, 25 heck even 30. I want to be able to play and participate in whatever sports my kids decide to play in their teens.

Of course they are many benefits to excersizing and living a healthy lifestyle but for me I know that monkey see monkey do. My way of life not only affects me but It will impact my kids and their kids and so on. Children are amazing mimicking machines, the more great habits you can display in yourself the more they will have for themselves.

So if you are using the new year as motivation to start a new path or get back on the horse, think of your kids I find them to be a better more lasting reason to stay motivated versus an arbitrary day on the calendar.

Pierre Richard Ducasse

AVENGERS … ASSEMBLE!!!

Yes It’s that time of the year when I get excited about dressing up the kids for Halloween. I have to admit it’s not really about the kids it’s about me. As a child and also as an adult prior to kids, I enjoyed dressing up and trying to be unique with my costumes. But now with shifting priorities I get to live vicariously through them.

My wife doesn’t get it she thinks Halloween is weird. I try to make her understand that for me it’s not necessarily about horror. To me Halloween is about originality, creativity, uniqueness and detail. She just looks at me with a blank stare calling me a nerd with her eyes.

I am also a wannabe comic book nerd. Not Big Bang Theory level but I wouldn’t mind if I was. So this year when my son said he wanted to be Captain America for Halloween, I had to add my own touch to make him the best Captain America. I told him he can be Endgame Captain America with Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer for my none nerds), a broken shield and a bloody face. When he replied ” yes! I can be worthy Captain America” my heart melted and I felt like crying.(no lie).

So the search began, I got him a Captain America costume. (End game version because…of course details matter to a 5 year old). I got Mjölnir, a shield and we were in business.

I am still trying to convince him to let me paint his face so he looks like he was in battle with Thanos but he said make up is for girls.  I’ll  try again later. Between now and Halloween I just need to damage his brand new shield and we are set.

You can clearly tell who is more excited about this. I just hope Halloween night is not too cold so that a coat doesn’t ruin my… I mean his costume. Because he would be soooo devastated right??

To all the of you Halloween parents who feel as passionately about this night as I do hang in there. One day our kids will appreciate our inner nerd. Or just get a mask from the dollar store and a pillowcase and call it a day only time will tell.

Until then AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!

Pierre-Richard Ducasse

Range

Are you raising the next Tiger Woods ? The next Serena ? Messi ? Steve Nash? Kasparov ? Questlove? Well let me tell you something…you could be.

Before having children I had this image that my son will be great at this or my daughter will be awesome at that. I pictured helping them focus, train and practice until they become the best at something, anything.

Now that I have them I realize it’s not so simple. I have to balance my wants and dreams vs theirs and figure out when to push and when to back off. (Seriously they are only 5 and 3). I started thinking and worrying should I be pushing them in this sport or that activity ? So many options.

Over the summer I read this book called Range: Why generalist triumph in specialized world by David Epstein. The author argued for diversity and balance over specializing and provided countless case studies to support his arguments.

If that sounds like a good read it’s because it is. Buy it it’s worth it. (Yes shameless plug). But back to my point.

The book made me realize that there is no special formula to get anywhere. Your path is YOUR path. Yes, we get the one in a million athletes like Tiger and Serena who were trained with one goal in mind from a young age. But in reality most successful stories are a result of range. Trying and failing at different things help you become well rounded and help you discover what you truly like and are meant to do.

This made me realize that no matter what I want for my kids there is no single way to get there. Yes I can guide and help them when in need. I can provide advice and support but there is no golden blueprint.  It’s OK that they fail, it’s OK that they stop and try something else even if they are good at it. It’s OK to let them quit (sometimes) as long as they are learning from the experience. Odds are that my daughter or your son will not be the next great one but it’s looks like being well rounded and balanced does give them a better chance at reaching that goal. So keep that in mind when you get that urge to have them go all in.

Pierre-Richard Ducasse

PS: Don’t forget to subscribe. I promise I will not flood your inbox.

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Black People Swim?

Yes I am black and I can swim, barely.

As a child I never took swimming lessons but I love pools and the ocean. Over time I learned how not to drown. As an adult I took lessons to improve my strokes and endurance.

Now that we have children, my wife and I make it a priority for our kids to learn to swim. We are putting swimming on the same level as reading and math. We want to break the stereotype that black people don’t swim. (Yes, my wife knows how to swim, she is a Trini born in Canada 😂).

When our children are older and get asked if they know how to swim, we want their answer to be “Yes, Don’t You?”.

We want swimming to be like any regular thing they do. If they show interest we want them to compete and excel.

They already have a great example of swimming excellence in our family.

My cousin who like me can barely swim, recently had his 12 year old son cross the Saint Laurent River in 1 hour and 4 minutes.

(https://www.journaldequebec.com/2019/07/21/il-traverse-le-fleuve-saint-laurent-a-la-nage-a-12-ans)

Again HE IS 12 !! Félicitations Charles-Antoine!

This is to show that an inability doesn’t have to be generational. It is up to us as parents to encourage our children to try and do things we don’t know how to. Not just swimming but anything that is not considered cultural to us.

My kids may not cross the Saint Laurent like their superfish cousin but they definitely wont think it’s as impossible as my generation did.

Pierre-Richard Ducasse

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Kumon

My parents were both teachers. My wife is an early childhood educator. It is safe to say that in our house education is important and an early start is even more crucial.

Our son at the age of 3 showed interest in reading, writing and counting. While the canadian school system has its pros and cons, the curriculum of daycare, junior and senior kindergarten didn’t always challenge his interests in 123s and ABCs.

As a result we decided to keep him challenged by starting Kumon.

For those who do not know Kumon is a teaching/tutoring program that helps kids get an early start or helps struggling kids catchup and then get ahead.

For us it was a way to keep him learning and getting the academic challenge he wouldn’t be getting with school for another couple of years.

Almost two years in and the progress has been incredible. Kumons’ approach is fairly simple. Daily homework ranging from 5 minutes to 30 minutes per day. The program helps build discipline, consistency accountability and endurance. The best part is as a parent it removed alot of the guess work of trying to find a way to teach or find the material. It also removed the pressure my wife felt moving his learning along (teacher mom’s are so much more patient at work, trust me I’ve seen it)

Our daughter is 3 and will be starting her own Kumon journey as soon as she is ready. We definitely feel like this has been one of the best investment we have made so far.

The way you choose to give your child a head start is not important. What is important, is that you give them a head start.

Our choice was Kumon.

Pierre-Richard Ducasse

The Purpose Of Parents

September 26 is my parents’ Wedding Anniversary.

2019 gave them 39 years of marriage.

My sisters and I recently joined our parents on a trip to Jamaica to celebrate this milestone. It was the first time in years that we were all together for such an extended time. No spouses no grandchildren just us five. The original five. The week together got me thinking of how blessed my sisters and I are.

We were born in Haiti and moved to Canada in 1996. I was 11, my sisters were 10 and 6. We saw our parents sacrifice and move heaven and earth to give us the best life they could provide. Between going to school while working, career changes, moving from Montreal to Toronto, living with family (shoutout to the Bonostro’s and the Duval’s) our parents did their best to provide us with a better life. Just like our grandparents did for them.

During this trip I realized that we are truly the fruits of their labour. My sisters and I are well educated young adults with our own homes and five degrees between the three of us.(If you are doing the math yes I am the slacker with one degree). I am not saying this to brag but only to get to my point.

What is the purpose of a parent? Yes parents are there to raise their children with love, affection and instill values and worth. But I think the core of a parents’ job is to make sure that their child experiences a better life than they had. Parents have to balance dreaming their own dreams for their children and the dreams their children have for themselves. My parents managed to establish this balance that allowed my sisters and I to reach new heights and achieve things we wouldn’t have if they didn’t dream with us and for us.

This past week made me appreciate them even more than I ever did and made me reflect on my role with my children.

My job and purpose is to continue what they started. With the help of family and friends my job is to provide for my children, dream for my children and put them in a position to have a better life than I have.

With that being said I want to say thank you Manmie et Papi. With you two as my standard I feel blessed and already on the right path.

Pierre-Richard Ducasse

Little Bill

I have been sitting on this one for a while now but a recent conversation with my sister brought the topic back up.

Recently my sister was trying to recruit me or mainly my wife to join her in an old school Slow Jam/R&B night out. While talking we all wondered if they would be playing any R. Kelly songs. The discussion continued, one thing led to another and we got on Cosby.

Obviously this subject is full of landmines and attempting to discuss the pros and cons of the Cosby legacy should be left to the professionals. (Ie, See Dave Chappelle Netflix special)

So here I am diving into the hot lava.

To start I am not here to discuss guilt, trial, fairness of sentence vis-à-vis other celebrities etc. Guilty is guilty just because someone else gets away with something doesn’t mean he should.

I am only here to talk about consumption of the art, in this case the multiple television shows that a lot of us in the black community grew up on; The Cosby Show, A Different world, Fat Albert and the big one in our home “Little Bill.”

The wife and I have had many discussions about this over the last year and we tend to be on the same page on this issue. We eventually came to realize that we consider Cosby and Mr. Huxtable as two separate people. The person, that is flawed and obviously an awful human being who used his power to take advantage of many. The other, a perfectly created fictional character that helped influence the black perspective for multiple generations of black people all-over the world.

Our kids watch “Little Bill” and they love it. A show where my son gets to see someone just like him. A kid who reads, imagines and loves to go camping in the backyard. A chance to see himself in a television show or cartoon is rare for a child of color and that is important enough to us that we continue to watch it in our home.

I know, I know there are other shows out there with black representation and we have tried. Doc McStuffins, Motown Magic, whatever the spinoff of Home is. They just didn’t stick believe me my wife tried.

The truth is our kids don’t know who Bill Cosby is but they do know little Bill the fictional character.

I struggle to deny the positive representation this fictional family provides for my real family. Our community already lacks tv shows of that caliber and removing it from our lineup is not something I am prepared to do.

The question we should ask our selves is: “why is it that a show that was produced from (1999 to 2004 ) remains one of the best and few kids show for black children to see themselve as the main characters?”

Until I find a show that equally represents my son the way Little Bill has, Little Bill shall remain in our tv lineup.

Pierre.

Ps: suggestions are welcomed.

Daddy’s Princess 👸🏾

I get it now and Tomorrow I’ll get it even more and even more the next day and so on.

I get it when they said “Daddy’s Girl”.

She turns 3 this month and already has me wrapped around her fingers. I know it, I am aware of it and cant help it.

The other day she caught me staring at her and ran to give me a hug. I said “Je t’aime Norah” and she answered “Je t’aime Papi” I said “tu es belle” and she said “Oui comme une princesse”.

Later that day as I replayed that moment in my head I realised that I need to make a conscious effort to reinforce all her qualities. She is Smart! Clever! Sassy! Fearless! Extremely Autonomous! (I could go on)

In a world full of social outrage and gillette commercials about boys and toxic masculinity we often overlook how we project on our daughters.

My daughter is beautiful YES ! She loves princesses and loves to dress up GREAT! But that is not all she is and it is one of my MANY DUTIES as her father to make sure she knows that. Yes Mom tells her that all the time but it also needs to come from Dad.

So to my fellow fathers out there remember your princess is Smart, Outgoing, Fearless, Intelligent, Bright Sassy… You get the point.

Pierre

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