The Birth Of A Son

When the rules of reality separate themselves from the norm, surprise is the inevitable outcome. Some people say the gap between our assumptions and expectations of things that happen around us closes more and more as we get older. Maybe we just simply get bored with familiar pleasures or have bad memories. However, in the past month the gap, for me, widened quite a bit. The feeling of wonder and mystery unexpectedly returned like Christmas in July filled with boxes of good memories enough to fill the North Pole. 

SURPRISE

I was already surprised at having a fourth baby (read here) but decided not to know what the gender was until the actual birth. This part was tricky with all the baby showers, doctor’s appointments, social media, etc.. However, I can honestly say, I wasn’t 100% sure and...about 10% surprised. I'm just happy there's hormonal balance in the home again. 

Austin - 1998

Austin - 1998

Jaxon - 2014

Jaxon - 2014

SURPRISE 

Having my twelve year old daughter Caitlyn in the delivery room and watching the expressions on her face was priceless. From push to placenta this has got to be the best method of birth control ever. Consequently, Caitlyn wants to be a labor and delivery nurse when she grows up. 

Keep it together Caitlyn...

Keep it together Caitlyn...

I'm not crying...it's just raining on my face!! 

I'm not crying...it's just raining on my face!! 

SURPRISE

Watching my three year old daughter Jordan immediately bond with her baby brother. If you’ve ever watched Tiny Toon Adventures growing up...we’ve nicknamed her Elmyra. 

"Don't touch my baby brother" 

"Don't touch my baby brother" 

"I'm going to hug you, kiss you, and love you forever"

"I'm going to hug you, kiss you, and love you forever"

Mom…why is he eating your boob?
— Jordan Angel Miranda

SURPRISE

Watching my wife give birth to a son like a champ. Weighing in at 7lbs and 11oz. we decided to choose a name with originality and meaning; we named him Jaxon Matthew Miranda. His name literally means "God has been gracious".  

Jaxon Matthew Miranda | 7lbs. 11oz. 

Jaxon Matthew Miranda | 7lbs. 11oz. 

Tutus and Tennis Shoes

I’ve heard that there’s an intricate relationship that exist between who you are and where you come from. Whether it's a bundle of past experiences or significant relationships that has made an impact no matter how small. Different personality traits, natural talents, personal interests, and even spiritual beliefs play a major role in coloring our identity. I’ve been cautious not to paint with broad strokes when it comes to relating to my kids. I’ve noticed that while they have many of the things I’ve just mentioned in common, they have them in different combinations. How do we stay away from the parent trap of being color blind? How do we value and celebrate the uniqueness of each of our children?

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You
— Dr. Seuss

Here are some things I've tried lately to create a sense of uniqueness in each of my kids :

Verbal Hues

A hue is attribute of color that enables us to classify something as red, blue, green, etc.. How often do we stop and say something that encourages our kids to have a sense uniqueness? Whenever Austin (my oldest) has his moments of sharing, which are few and far between, I usually pick up on key words that I listen for in order to speak his language. He’ll usually end his phrases with, “you feel me” or start his phrases with “I feel like”, or throw in an occasional “I have a feeling. Knowing he’s definitely a kinesthetic, I usually pick a moment and say something specific like, “Austin I feel like you’re a great thinker. You process things in a very detailed way.”

Experimental Tones

One of the most important things we can do as parents is help and support our kids discover their strengths and passions. Getting them involved in all kinds of activities so they can figure out what they love and what they’re good at. It’s like spinning this big giant color wheel until the right shade brings out their best features. Last month, I attended Caitlyn’s middle school dance recital with Jordan (my three year old) and sat through 52 dance numbers only to see her dance in one act. Sure I thought, “what the hell did I just put myself through”, and immediately after that moment of clarity, Jordan urinated all over herself (*heavy sigh*). It's in those exact moments I keep reminding myself that Tiffany and I are helping them narrow down their focus to the few things they’ll eventually invest their life in.

Memory Shades

With all the technology out there these days, there isn’t a moment that we don’t capture or highlight all over our social media spectrums. To me your past experiences are part of what makes your story unique. Memory is a very powerful tool if you and you're kids are visual learners. It’s why we take so many pictures, videos, and one of the main reasons I love to blog. So that one day I could tell Jordan, “Hey did you know that you used to dress yourself as a kid in tutu’s and tennis shoes and we’d go out in public and you would....” 

 

I wonder what other ideas are out there to teach our kids and others about uniqueness?

Sticky Words

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Lately, Tiff and I have been extra careful about our words and how we use them around our kids, especially around our three year old (a.k.a. little miss SpongeBob). Even what we watch on television can sometimes affect our children's perception of what could be deemed as "okay". The other day I was driving home while picking up Austin from his girlfriend's house (her parents are always home) and pull into the driveway to see my brother, one of his girlfriends, and my neighbor sitting outside the house talking and smoking. Now, let me open a parenthesis here and say (that my 27 year old brother lives with me in a side efficiency while sometimes having some sketchy characters come over from time to time...but that's for another blog post).  Austin and I get out of the car and he decides to say hi and begins talking to the "three amigos". When suddenly, the girl begins to comment on Austin's looks while using words that were meant to flatter but were highly inappropriate. 

Probably too upset to say anything at the moment, I decided to go inside the house and texted Austin to come in immediately. When he came inside he asked me, "Dad why did you want me to come inside?" I looked at him and replied, "because I don't want you hanging around that trash". Now, I don't know what's worse, saying something you wish you hadn't, or saying nothing and wishing you had. 

My stupid mouth has got me in trouble…I said too much again
— John Mayer

Now, we as parents can become so guarded with our children that we forget sometimes that we're not raising a child, we're raising an adult. I know, at least intellectually, that my kids need to develop a sense of freedom and independence while exploring different relationships but, there's something I think in every parent that will always resist that. Austin then patted me on the shoulder and with condescending approval said, "okay"...as if he had perceived something new about his father. Well, after marinating in stupidity for about five minutes, I went to his room and apologized and explained that what I said was definitely out of character. It bothered him that I would label a family member as rubbish. And after much dialogue I discovered that because there was something about himself that identifies with the people outside the house that night, when I called them trash...I was in effect calling him trash. 

Sometimes the ones we're trying to parent will tell us what they need to hear from us most. Hidden in the nuances of the day, in their body language, in their interactions with others, in their questions, in their stories, in their conversations, in their messages to friends, etc.. Let's make sure what gets remembered is worth repeating and speaks to the needs our kids are subtly lettings us know they have. As for me, a little soul searching is in order as to why I said what I said. Like my father always told me, "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks". 

Mr. Fantastico

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The procedure my wife had done a year ago is called, Adiana. It’s a permanent birth control method that is less invasive to tubal ligation and works by stimulating your body’s own tissue to grow in and around soft inserts that are placed inside a women’s fallopian tubes. Based on three years of clinical data, Adiana is 98.4% effective in preventing pregnancy once the doctor confirms that the fallopian tubes are completely blocked. Pretty much the procedure builds an impenetrable wall; well that’s what the research shows.

A couple months ago Tiffany starting feeling nauseous, her body starting aching in certain parts, and so she went and bought a pregnancy test. To our surprise the test came out positive. I must of shaken that pregnancy stick about 20 times like it was some kind of magic eight ball while screaming inside my head, “THIS IS NOT MY FORTUNE...THIS IS NOT MY FORTUNE!!!” Initially we were worried because the pregnancies, if any, after this particular procedure are usually ectopic. Ectopic pregnancies are detrimental to a women’s health, so we immediately made a doctor’s appointment. To our surprise, again, the Ob-Gyn came back with the results with a look of bewilderment on her face and says, “this baby is firmly planted in the uterus”. Of course, I respond with the proverbial question, “HOW?”. She says, “well two things had to happen, your little swimmers had to make it through the procedure, and her fertilized egg had to come down”. I respond, “How if we had the test done to make sure this procedure took place?”. She smirked and replied, “With everything still in tact, I wouldn't be able to tell you until after the pregnancy. There was a 2% chance of pregnancy with this procedure and 90% of the time, of that 2%, it’s ectopic. Which leaves only a 0.2% chance of a normal pregnancy. I mean this is fantastic that this baby could be in the uterus against all odds. I think this baby might come with laser beams coming out if its eyes.”

So you’re telling me there’s a chance
— Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber

Now, at first, when I heard the improbable statistics along with laser beams, my ego kind of took over. I couldn’t help thinking that I was some kind of superhero who leaps buildings in a single bound, and this was going to be the golden child that was going to cure cancer or something. But then I became really angry, I mean...really angry. I felt like getting in my car and driving off the highest parking garage in Miami at the thought of diapers, and late night feedings, and milk vomit. To think, some couples try so hard to have kids and can’t. Here we are, trying so hard not to have kids, and end up getting pregnant against all preventative measures.

Mr. Fantastico

Mr. Fantastico

Mr. Erratico 

Mr. Erratico 

Well, after going through the five stages of grief in 10 seconds or less, I quickly thought of the bright side to all this. First, for whatever reason, God wants Tiff and I to parent this child. Second, with these odds, I might as well play the lottery...because I’ll probably win. 

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

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Last night I was asking my daughter (Caitlyn) about why she's been so distracted from her school work lately. With last week's nightmare of a science project over and done with, along with her and her mom's shouting matches regarding hypothesis and variables on substances and freezing water temperatures, I couldn't be more relieved. I mean, you would think they were trying to create cold fusion or clean energy or something. Normally, Caitlyn will bring home nothing but A's & B's but lately, with missed assignments and her grades slipping, I took the opportunity before she went to sleep to ask her, "What's going on?"

Finally, as she laid on her bed with tears streaming down her face she said, "Dad I'm angry"!! She continued to tell me how she's been experiencing some bullying at school through some of her guy and girl friends. Name calling, leg kicking, head flicking, strained relationships have left her, as she says, "feeling dumb & ugly". Coupled with, the last several weeks of feeling that her mom was being intense with her on her studies, it only amplified those negative feelings. It’s challenging to articulate the influence a father has on a little girl. How much of his attitude and actions toward her can determine her future relationships. Dad's, don't lose sight of the impact you have today on your daughter's future. Here are three things I've picked up on from experience, books, other blogs, etc... that I encourage you to focus on:

Love her mother 

I took the opportunity to remind Caitlyn that her mom only wants whats best for her and that even though she may feel angry right now, that any anger towards her mom was misplaced and took the opportunity to point out some incredible things about Tiffany. Now, with a high divorce rate and equally high never-married-parent rate, I know not all couples are bound by love. However, this is one of the most important things any man can do, so guys, if you can't love her mother, find something to respect and admire in her anyway. And let me take it a step further, take care with what you say about women you work with, the women in your family, and even the woman driving the car in the next lane. Your daughter is listening...and your attitude about women is part of the attitude she's developing about herself.

Affirm her

We live in a culture where girls are highly insecure about their image. It isn't sexist when a father compliments on how his daughter dresses for school, combs her hair, move on the sports field, when they're sincere. Research shows that successful women have had fathers who were interested in their intellect and their academics. She needs you to celebrate her mind and hear your voice reminding her she's beautiful and valuable. If she can learn to believe you now then she'll believe it when her future husband tells her the same things. The more you affirm your daughters today (especially through puberty) the less they'll seek affirmation from other persons.

Set the standard

Believe it or not, you're the model for manhood your daughter is likely to look for when she starts to date. Be the husband you want her to have one day. If you want her to find someone who's loyal, honest, faithful, hardworking, wise with money, etc... then make no mistake you need to be that kind of man.