Whither Daddy?


Everyone has a father. Not everyone has a daddy.

Never forget that. You might not have that problem, but rest assured, there are plenty who do. Some are orphaned. Some are abandoned by their fathers during childhood. Some never even know who their fathers were.

Some have fathers, adoptive fathers, or stepfathers in their lives. They may even live under the same roof with a father figure. But that doesn’t mean that person is “daddy.” You could live with your biological father who provides for you, is faithfully married to your mother, never mistreats you, and overall exhibits all the outward signs of being a good father. And yet that person will never never have that special place in your estimation and heart. You will never feel a deep affection or connection towards him. You will never admire him. You will never fully trust him. You will never want to grow up to be just like him, or marry a similar man.

However, those of us with no daddy aren’t always doomed to such a fate for the rest of our years. Whether we like it or not, boys will seek role models to emulate, and girls will look for that prince charming archetype to embody everything they want in a man. And neither come with a pre-approved list of potential daddy candidates; they seek and they find. That means that any of us could potentially become someone’s daddy. Maybe without even knowing it. [Read more…]

Gosh Darn Kids

Children are children. They aren’t supposed to be perfectly refined little social participants. As sure as death and taxes they WILL embarrass you in public. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t restrain at least some of their public behavior.

Today, as time and again, I saw a little kid who I knew was trouble from the moment he entered the establishment. How could he be anything else? He had that little blond bowl cut and those sheepish parents that screamed “yuppies” louder than their choice of posh coffee shop for a family outing. He was like a Tasmanian Devil of incoherent mayhem. His parents didn’t even try to stop him, only to distract him away from his path of destruction. Like he was some sort of unstoppable god of war, only to be appeased with appropriate sacrifice. That toy firetruck he indiscriminately plowed across tabletops might as well have been a real one to them.

Come on now, this is a little child. Don’t be scared of him. Or, more appropriately, don’t be scared of being stern. All that “believe in peace” stuff is bull. The only way he’ll learn to behave in public is if he thinks mommy will kick his privileged little derriere if he doesn’t. It’s the controlled environment he needs to learn to not grow up to be a sociopath. Don’t deny him that.

The future of respectable behavior is in your hands.

Then When You Get the Test Scores, You Get the Power…

Am I going to Hell?

Sometimes I ask myself this, and the writing of this post is one of those occasions. Hearing about the banning of studying after 10 p.m. in South Korea offers the opportunity to comment on the much-needed reform of an educational system, but I’m starting to doubt I’ll ever get past mercilessly cracking jokes at she sheer ridiculousness of the situation. I mean, imagine a family getting a late-night visit from the police. The officer breaks the tragic news to the mother: their child was caught studying. “What?! No, no that can’t be. Poor little Johnny! He told me he quit. Not my baby, no not him! Why God, whyyyyy?”

Granted, there are already parallels between studying and the world of illegal drugs. Who among us has ended a night buried face-first in a textbook, Scarface style? Who has ever felt that, just when they thought a term paper was finished, it pulled them back in? And, on a more somber note, who has ever been tormented by feelings of desperation and failure caused by inadequate scholastic performance?

But they’re not the same thing. You’re not going to see a shady character standing on the street corner going: “Yo, check it man, I gotta Cliff Note man, check it out, only $50 each.” You’re not going to find a Kindle hidden inside a bag of cocaine. And no one’s ever going to rectally conceal a flash drive full of e-books. Why? Because drugs are harmful. They are addictive. They are so harmful to people, and society, that they must be stopped at all costs. And the kind of people the industry attracts deserve what’s coming to them. Would cram school operators gun each other down in a ruthless turf war? “You in MY hood now, dawg! Ain’t no room for another teacher here. Ya ain’t nuthin’ but a punk substitute! So you’d best get going ‘fore I school you old school, I’m-a teach you something about the Armenian Genocide. You gon’ take a shelling like Verdun, gonna become ancient history like the Etruscans. So go take your cram school and cram it up your…”

But you know, maybe they are the same thing… and if anything, the bizarreness of the Korean situation seems to illustrate this. Abusing both smack and math can be hazardous to your well-being, and there are good arguments for regulating both. But both are ultimately nothing more than tools that can be misused and abused. Criminalization of drugs and over-studying both end up targeting the symptom of the problem, and not the problem itself. And, most detrimentally, both go after the pushers. Now I know that there are unsavory characters employed by cram schools and drug-running enterprises, but ultimately all they’re doing is servicing a demand. They make a living by satisfying their customers, by giving them what they badly want… and they WILL exist as long as the demand is in place. If anything, book and dope salesmen need to be in the light, under the scrutiny of society, to ensure accountability in their operations. If pushers sell their goods as quickly as possible and then disappear into the night, what do you do if that cocaine you purchased happens to be mixed with laundry detergent? What if that Bible you picked up for a school project turns out to be the Cotton Patch version, with “Peter” replaced by “Rock” and “Philippians” replaced by “Alabaster African Church”? The horror! We need accountability!

There are real societal problems behind each issue that must be addressed if we are ever to find some hope on either issue. Drug abuse can come from a wide variety of personal and mental issues, and the only way to shake addiction is through a personal decision. The Korean education conundrum comes from two different problems. The first is a society where employers place too much value on high test scores at prestigious universities, rather than on actual abilities to perform in the workplace, especially in the area of innovation. The second is families’ brutal drive to pressure their children to acquire the highest on-paper achievements possible. A society that deems 31 suicides per 100,000 people per year to be an acceptable “cost of business” in order to achieve high familial prestige has SERIOUS need to reevaluate its priorities. If anything, banning late-night studying can only serve to worsen stress and desperation, as not children have less time to achieve the results demanded by society, or continue to study into the night with the added pressure of being on the lookout for the authorities.

So the Western world frets about the dissipate youth underperforming in school, and would probably give anything for a taste of South Korea’s problems of over-studious young ‘uns. Meanwhile, Korean kids probably dream of having parents cool enough to forgive them for slipping into B+ territory. Though there is one thing both can agree on: we’re all lucky that we don’t live in North Korea. Next time you get busted for being on meth (or math, depending on where you live), be thankful it wasn’t for insulting the Dear Leader. Or for murdering your neighbor to steal his food, so you can starve to death next week instead of this Friday.

That about wraps it up. Do I have any final words on this tragic situation? Yes, in fact, I do:

I need you like a textbook,
Turn my pages like a man.
Baby, study me all night,
Like your history exam.

I think I’m going to Hell…

Parents Be Facebooking


The social media revolution caught the world by storm, and its lure has been felt by several generations. Kids and their parents have joined up, but neither group seems happy about the other being there. It’s hard to gauge which is greater: parents’ fear of their kids ruining their lives and consorting with pedophiles and the like, or their kids’ embarrassment at seeing their parents intrude on territory where they have no business being. Either way, the sentiment is: “Please, make it stop.”

The young whippersnappers feel this is their territory, their little world, and those old farts just don’t understand it. This is true. The online world of today operates under different rules than the older generations are used to (just watch with glee how daddy flips out when his first YouTube video gets a comment from TheAryanKnight full of helpful insight on race relations in America). Yes, it’s a brave new world, and old guys and gals are struggling to get used to it, especially as it relates to their children. However, if I would tell parents one thing, it’s this: You’ve got to be on Facebook. And friend your kids.

Now most of you are probably remembering that “Oh please, no” moment of receiving a friend request from a parent, or that long, awkward delay after sending said request to your kid. “Mom’s on Facebook, please freaking kill me now!” But I declare it must be so. Why? It’s really simple: parents should be involved in their kids lives. That’s the only thing that separates a parent from a butler/trust fund combo. How can you mentor a stranger? And how can a kid grow up right with no advice on life? They may look like Winston Churchill when they’re born, but that doesn’t mean they come with a developed brain.

To parents: If your kids absolutely won’t have you as a friend, that’s something wrong with YOU. If they don’t want you in their virtual lives, that means you’re already not in their real lives. If they don’t trust you with their online world, they probably don’t trust you with their real world, either. Don’t blame social media for exposing the wedge between you and your kids that was already there! Also, don’t just think that you can not talk to your kids or be involved with their lives, and just use their Facebook profile as a shortcut to keep up on them. There are no shortcuts in relationships, and if you give a hoot about your kids you won’t try to take any.

To kids: Maybe now’s a good time to learn about privacy. Sure, no matter how many girl dates you have going shopping with mommy, or if you enjoy having a stiff drink with daddy while making lewd comments about girls together, there’s always stuff you don’t want the parents to find out. The coolest daddy in this whole wide rainbow-filled kumbaya world will still flip his lid when he finds out where his little girl woke up last night after confusing apple juice and whiskey. But guess what? That’ll teach you what is and isn’t good public knowledge. Mommy isn’t being a buzzkill when she objects to that photo of you snorting coke from a hooker’s navel, because odds are your future employer and fiancée won’t like it any more than her. Your private life should remain private for a reason.

Like all issues, this one is best dealt with right away, rather than when someone happens. I read about a young girl who woke up one day to find out that pictures of her were commonly featured on child porn sites. Sure, the sexiest ones were hacked and stolen from a private account meant only for her boyfriend, but her Facebook profile had plenty more to supplement them, enough so that she became known by name. If only someone had been there to tell her that a 14-year-old girl has no business looking sexy online, then may be she wouldn’t be receiving regular rape threats. Imagine how hard it was to break the news to her dad. Imagine how hard it was for him to find out his little straight-A angel was already a celebrity in the online porn community before she was even old enough to drive.

The Internet changed a lot of things, but it shouldn’t sever whatever relationship kids have with their parents. Maybe parents can’t teach their kids how to use the Internet, but they sure as hell can teach them to not be morons. And maybe the youngsters have a thing or two to teach the old farts as well. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if all our grandmothers listened to Aerosmith and followed Ashton Kutcher on Twitter? That question was rhetorical…