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Monday, April 25, 2011

Top 10 Things NOT to Say to Your Daughter After Surgery

Had a long day in the surgery center this morning as my middle daughter needed to have her ACL repaired in her knee. I think the word the orthopedic doc used to describe her ACL was "mop ends." Not a good thing. Needed to take a graft from another part of her leg in order to fashion a replacement ACL.

Anyway, after getting up at 4:30 a.m. (had to be in the office by 6:00), and not returning home until about 2:00, with limited nutrition and lots of caffeine, I made the mistake of discovering the top 10 things NOT to say to your daughter after she has surgery.

1. Don't worry, your boyfriend likes you for who you are, not what you look like.
2. Do you want to take the stool softener before or after you eat some food.
3. The nurse said you did a good job keeping all of your vomit in the container she provided.
4. Well, you might have to wear stockings over those scars for the rest of your life.
5. We should adopt a salad diet until you're able to exercise again so you don't put on any weight.
6. Your pain is not as bad as you think it is, it's a figment of your imagination.
7. The doctor said you were pretty quiet during the operation, only something about Justin Beiber's boxer shorts.
8. Sure, they say you can't see through those stupid gowns, but it doesn't matter because they take it off during surgery anyway.
9. Don't worry about the patient they just wheeled back to the recovery room, he had a different doctor than you.
10. A year from now, you won't even remember that you couldn't dance at your senior prom nor had to use crutches to get across the stage to get your diploma.

I never said I was the sharpest pencil in the box.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Monthly Visitor

There's no delicate way to approach this subject. With four females under my roof, and all four 14-years of age or older, that "time of the month" could be every week for me. If the four of them want to be cruel. I know they could plan it that way. And there's some studies that say that females who live under the same roof for lengthy periods of time, their bodies eventually adjust so that they all experience that scenario at the same time. Something to do with pheromones, or something. Well let me tell you, it don't happen!

Some of my friends think I'm bald because it's just convenient. It is. No doubt. And it saves on hair care products. I've donated my hair care budget for the good of the cause.

But the real reason for my hair style is what I call, the Monthly Visitor. Some have nicknamed it 'Aunt Flo' and I'm sure there are less pleasant monikers, from both men and women. Now, the good thing is that I've learned from experience, and, at least on this particular subject, I've learned quickly.

It's almost too easy for me to detect when one of my women has hit 'the week.' Actually, if you're a perceptive male (and I am only because of the amount of the estrogen under my shingles), you know BEFORE it actually arrives.

You spot the moody attitude, the grumpy demeanor, the short, terse answers to even your most innocent questions, like, "can I get you some water to wash down those Motrin?" Slamming doors are not uncommon, raised voices and an occasional verbal altercation. Now, if more than one of the females is experiencing 'the week,' then all of the above escalates and all bets are off.

Thankfully, a number of my friends have finished basements with pull-out couches, full bathrooms and large-screen televisions. A mini refrigerator full of cold adult beverages never hurts.

So I read with interest a USA Today article  ( the other day that talked about parents actually using hormone treatment therapy for their daughters in order to "keep them a kid as long as possible." In other words, they're trying to delay their daughter's transition to puberty. The theme of the article was that the quicker a girl enters puberty, the higher the chances that she could encounter some serious physical problems later on down the road. Apparently, according to the article, the longer a female's body is exposed to estrogen, the greater the likelihood that she will develop any number of nasty female-specific cancers. Not to mention just plain old nastiness once a month for the rest of her life.

If that's true, and you know how skeptical I am about research studies, then maybe there's some merit to the parents' efforts. But let's get something straight. There is never a good time for a girl to go through puberty. In fact, if they could skip puberty and jump from innocent, carefree, loving 10-year olds to about 28-year-olds, that would be fine with me.

So if you want to raise free-range chickens, as did one mother in the article, because you want to provide a fat-free diet to your daughter, that's fine with me. Just make sure that your husband has someplace to go once a month for a few days to lay low. Because free-range chickens nor hormone treatment therapy can take away the wrath of the Monthly Visitor.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Drinking and Driving

My college roommate was arrested five times for DUI, and on the last one he killed an older couple driving in the opposite direction. How he got away with the first four DUIs I can't comprehend. He's spent some time in prison, and hopefully he's getting his life back in a positive track.

I was reminded of this when I saw a news report of a student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. falling from a second story balcony over the weekend. He's 19 years-old, from California, and he's in Hershey Medical Center in intensive care. I'd hate to have to be the person who had to call his parents. Alcohol is suspected as a contributing factor in the student's fall.

This is on my mind because we are quickly approaching Prom season and with that, the parties that follow. I don't have a statistic of the number of teenagers who are killed or maimed in the spring every year from drunk driving accidents. Whatever the number is, it's more than it should be. It's preventable.

I admit that I had more than a few drinks with my roommate during our four years at college. I'll also admit that I most likely did some things that I'm not proud of, although if you pinned me down, I most likely can't remember what those stupid things were. I think I was a little bit lucky, and a little bit smart. At least that's what I tell myself.

I also admit that I'm not sure if I've done a good enough job with my daughters when it comes to having the 'drinking alcohol talk.' The schools our daughters attend have had various programs over the years, and I know that my wife and I have tried to reinforce those lessons. But those were at the moment discussions, and it's not been an ongoing dialogue in our house. We might have a conversation about it now and again, if something motivates that discussion.

I think, privately, we also pray that our actions, the peer group our daughters run around with, as well as other adults our daughters are exposed to, all make positive contributions to our preventive efforts.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is sponsoring "PowerTalk21 Day" on April 21, and it's an effort to motivate parents to talk to their teens about drinking and driving. You can find tips on what you might want to say at MADD's website.

I think kids are smart and, intellectually, they understand how dangerous drinking and driving can be. However, they are teenagers, so when you factor in emotions, peer pressure and the incredible feelings they will have if they are graduating from high school this spring...they are all powerful feelings that can alter the best intentions.

MADD's two best rules to discuss with your kids are: it's the House rules that there will be no consumption of alcohol until the child is 21 years of age. There is no research that supports some parents' thought that letting their underage children drink at home around them is helpful. It's not. The other rule is that your daughter (or son) should never get into a vehicle with someone, OF ANY AGE, who's been drinking alcohol.

We had an instance a few years back where one of our daughters reported smelling alcohol on the breath of a parent who was picking her up. That was the last ride she ever had with that parent.

Your teen also needs to know that if they are in a compromised situation, they can call you at any time, any place, for a ride home. Without the interrogation.

Anything to prevent them having the same experience as my college roommate.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Everybody's Different

I need to be reminded of things on a pretty regular basis. Drives my 'better half' nuts sometimes because she has a near photographic memory. Reads something once and it's locked in. Not me. I'm a list-maker. Sometimes, I think, if I didn't keep lists of everything I need to do everyday, I'd get lost wandering the mall and my ladies would have to send out a St. Bernard search dog to locate me. It'd work as long as the little barrel around the dog's neck has bourbon in it.

The need to remind me of things might also result from sharing my living quarters with four females, all four of whom think they know more and know better than do I. It's a fact of life I've learned to deal with. But I'm not going to tell that to them. It's bad enough I blame them for my shiny hairstyle. Course, that saves the family money because I don't require any hair care products. I sacrifice for the good of the cause.

But I learned a valuable lesson a couple years ago when I was working on my book, Final Four Leadership  I was recently reminded that I need to continue to utilize this lesson when it comes to my relationships with my daughters.

One of the questions I asked all of the coaches that I interviewed was how they dealt with team rules and with knowing how to motivate and criticize their players.

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell was, what most writers would call, a 'good get.' She is a veteran coach who's well respected by her peers and she's won national championships and a bunch of other hardware most coaches would like to have.

Over lunch at Sutton's Drug Store on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, Coach Hatchell spent a good deal of time explaining to me how she establishes relationships with her players in order to motivate them and to get the best out of them. She took time to provide to me a number of examples on how she'd dealt with players, both past and current. I was amazed by the amount of time she takes, every season, to get to know her players well beyond how well they can shoot, dribble and defend.

The important lesson that I learned from her is that every player she coaches accepts criticism in a different way. Every player wants to be rewarded in a different way. Some players can be screamed at in front of the group. Some players need to be called into the office with the door closed. Some players want a pat on the back everyday, other players might need a positive word once a month. She then recommended to me a couple of books, which I purchased and read right away. One book was recommended to strengthen the relationship I have with my wife, and the other (by same author) was to strengthen the relationships I have with my daughters.

The critical part of the message to me was that the rules are the rules for every member of the team (or family, as it were). Every member of the team has to be at practice at the same time; every member of the team is expected to sit in the first three rows of class or it's considered an absence; every member of the team is expected to say NO to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. If you violate team rules, there are consequences.

But team rules are different from how Hatchell relates to her players on a personal level. She has a process she uses (and shared with me) to determine how she handles criticizing and praising her players.

After returning from Chapel Hill, and after reading the books coach Hatchell recommended to me, I realized that each of my daughters is different. You see, intellectually, Dads understand that fact (most of them anyway). Taking action on that thought is a whole different story.

One daughter needs complete silence when she's doing school work, another has her iPod in her ears, the third might have the television on for background noise. One daughter likes it when I spend one-on-one time with her and share whatever wisdom I might have that applies to her situation. Another daughter hates it when I get 'all serious' on her with my worldly wisdom (I think I mentioned in my previous post that all four of my women question whether or not I'm wise or worldly). One daughter likes it when I write her personal notes in her lunch box or tuck under her pillow. You get the idea.

So the house rules are still the same for all three. No cell phone until you're in 8th grade. Curfew is the same for everyone (and it moves with age). Academics come before any other 'stuff,' and we expect the academic grades to be of the highest standard possible for that particular daughter (which is also different for each of the three). Respect your teachers and coaches as you would your grandmother and grandfather (kids seem to respect grandparents more than they do Mom and Dad, maybe it's the monetary gifts).

But I still have to remember that aside from the house rules, my relationship with each of my daughters is going to be a little bit different. One's not better than the other, it's just different. I was reminded of this lesson recently, saddened a bit that I'd forgotten it. But it wasn't on my list.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A New List

A couple of years ago, a high-profile women's basketball coach took a risk with an unknown author, and became an important part of that writer's best work to date. Of course, she didn't know it at the time, and neither did he.

When my oldest daughter was in her last year of high school and contemplating her college choices and her college field of study, I thought I would help her out. I went to Borders, because that's my favorite store, and because I was in search of books about successful females and successful female leaders. My thought was that I could pass those along to my daughter, not only for inspiration, but for guidance when I wasn't around to share my worldly wisdom with her (of course, none of the four women under my roof think I'm worldly or wise).

Much to my dismay, the selection of books at Borders was slim and none. So I figured I'd write the book myself. And I did. The hard part was trying to identify enough positive female role models to profile in my book. After banging my head against a wall (both literally and figuratively) I had an inspirational moment. Since I'd been writing a newspaper column about girls and women in sports for seven years, and since I'd written other books about girls' and women's issues, I determined that I'd profile the top women's basketball coaches in the country.

The hard part was narrowing the list down to a manageable number because I wanted to travel to visit these ladies so I could interview them in person. After banging my head against a wall, again (probably why my ladies don't think I'm worldly or wise) I figured out that my criteria for narrowing my list of candidates would be that they had to have led their team to the Final Four - at least once.

That gave me a pretty short list, and eight of the ten coaches I approached agreed to be part of the project. Final Four Leadership (5 Secrets Successful Female Leaders Use and You Should Too) made its debut just before New Year 2010

The first coach to commit to my project? University of Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. So it was with great pride and pleasure that I rooted for the Fighting Irish in the national championship game on Tuesday night. And it also was that night that I decided to embark on a new list.

Over the past several months, you faithful readers have been following my list of "Females We DON'T Want our Daughters to be Like." So far, Snooki, Heidi Montag, Diana Taurasi, Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gag Me and all of the Housewives from the Bravo television series have adorned that list. You can check back in the archives to see why I selected those folks to be on that list of shame.

So I'm putting Muffet McGraw as the first person on the new list - Ladies We'd Like Our Daughters to Emulate. No one is perfect, but I will always try to explain my choices.

Coach McGraw has been at Notre Dame for 24 campaigns and she's compiled 644 career victories. The Fighting Irish won the national championship in 2001, and McGraw has guided them to the Final Four three times. Only seven other coaches have more Final Four appearances than does coach McGraw.

It would be easy to admire McGraw for her professional accomplishments, the most important one to me being that 100% of her student-athletes that have completed their eligibility in South Bend have earned their Bachelor's degree. But I admire her for some other things that I hope our daughters can copy.

McGraw remains married to her husband, Matt, since 1987. That's not easy in her profession, but it shows that women can be successful and stay married. I know it takes two sides to make that happen, and Muffet gives Matt a lot of credit for that. They've raised a son, Murphy, who's a 20-year old student at the University of Indiana.

There are a lot more aspects to coach McGraw that motivated me to start my new list with her, but I've already gone on too long. The fact that Notre Dame beat the Evil Empire led by Geno Auriemma to get to the national championship game doesn't hurt, either.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Can't be True

There are days that I read the news headlines, and I say to myself, 'how can this be?' My daughters would use the expression, 'for real?' If I wanted to be a little less clean, I'd say something else, because that's how I feel about this news item.

I've never read any of Toni Morrison's novels, but I know how talented a writer she is and I know of her accomplishments. She's been lauded with both the Nobel Prize for Literature as well as with the Pulitzer Prize. Lofty heights. Her two most acclaimed novels were Song of Solomon and Beloved. She recently signed a contract to be the commencement speaker at Rutgers University this spring, and the deal is worth $30,000 for Morrison. Nice check for 15-20 minutes, but she's earned that.

What has my head upside down is news that Rutgers just paid Snooki $32,000 to offer to the student body her wisdom on fake tanning, fist pumping, drinking, and having casual sex with strangers. How do you pay a moron like Snooki $2K more than Toni Morrison? How do you justify that?

Whoops, I'm sorry, I said in my first post that I wouldn't call people names. It's just so hard when Snooki acts like a human pinata, just asking to be whacked with a broomstick, baseball bat, or whatever you might use to take a swing at such a hittable object. It's like the pitcher telling the cleanup hitter that he's going to throw a medium speed fastball over the heart of the plate. How can you decline to take advantage of the circumstances?

I know you could also accuse me of 'picking' on Snooki because I've taken her to task a couple of times previously

How can you pick on an individual who left the Rutgers University students with these well-thought insights, "Study hard, but party harder," or "When you're tan, you feel better." With those pearls of wisdom, it's no wonder parents of Rutgers students are flooding administrative offices with complaints that the Jersey Shore starlet was paid nearly $10K more than the parents pay in tuition, fees and room and board for a year.

A second news item is a little more encouraging. According to a recent study (I know, the skeptical research thing again) young adults might be less likely to have alcohol-related problems and to display impulsive behavior when the FATHER monitors their social interactions.

Apparently, most studies of parenting and its impact on children is primarily focused on mothers, and fathers are typically ignored. This study paid particular attention to Dads, and it found that when Dad pays more attention to what's going on - who are his kid's friends, their whereabouts and their social lives, there is a reduced chance of risky behaviors.

Furthermore, daughters who think their Dad is permissive and less aware of their social lives are more likely to be involved with alcohol-related problems.

P.S. Don't forget to tell your daughter that you love her.