As with everyone, my life is a personal journey. Recent events have illuminated surprising and unknown pieces of my foundation. As I continue my adventure, I intend to share my thoughts

0n relationships,

current events, and the multifaceted landscape of our society.

So why the title "The Cotton Picker Scat?" It ties into some great family history of mine!
My literary research thus far has proven to be priceless. I want to share my failures, my joys, my successes, my lessons. My story.

Because what is mine, may also be yours.

I'm glad you're here! The journey of the cotton picker continues…

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Eyes Have It!

            My first blog last week was a complete success! It was my first post, and I was humbled by the feedback I received. In just two days, I was blessed with seven followers of the site. In addition, I have over 100 followers on my Twitter accounts combined. It has taken me some time to get used to that bird. Shout out to @JustJoeJohnson (my Buckeye godson) for really helping me start tweeting!
One great joy of tweeting (YES, tweeting can be joyful!) is communicating with folks who share similar interests. One of the first communities I hooked up with is #DadsTalking. Fathers from all over the world tweet about the joys and challenges of fatherhood. Hey, if there are dads who boldly proclaim the love of their family and want to share their enjoyment of fatherhood…heck…those are the fellas I want to twitter around!
One of the more prolific men in this group is @DadStreet. His profile says he’s 30ish and has two kids. He lives in California and, via his avatar, represents Cali cool with his sunglasses. So when I am sitting down with my first cup of coffee at 9 a.m., worn out from getting my one son on the school bus, it’s only 7 a.m. where @DadStreet resides.  He’s already up and on the road! He talks about the Cali sun, his great kids, and “hey guys, let’s get moving!” Barf. He’s an ex-hippie…figures. I’d rather hear from @ExhausDad (get it…like exhausted Dad?). He talks about being tired from staying up all night (lovingly, of course) with his crying baby, and about not getting much sleep. Ahhhh…that’s what I’m talkin’ bout. The good ole’ days.
Just as every dad story is different, and every baby is different, there are scores of birthing and parenting techniques. Natural or cesarean, breastfeed or bottle, cloth or diaper, stay-at-home or work, spank or time-out, yada or nada. Most of these early choices involve the health/well-being of the child or mother. And that’s the way it should be. The early care of your child is of the utmost importance, and it’s imperative that mom be able to heal, relax, and bond with the baby in a peaceful environment. But there will come a time guys, and it comes quick, when we must seriously step up to the plate. And after fifteen challenging years of fatherhood, I believe I know one of the top ten keys to successful fatherhood.

The eyes have it.

As my wife and I prepared for the birth of our son back in late 1994, I was reading every parenting book I could get my hands on, and there were plenty. So to weed them out, I picked the ones with titles that made sense to me. No need to read about ‘The Yoga Parent’ when I can’t even cross my legs. I perused the ones that I felt in my gut would work with the kind of dad I visualized myself as being. Yeah, gut. Now that I got.
I believe that the responsible husband and soon-to-be dad can use this period to prepare for the future. Not just to begin a college fund (good luck with that one, btw), or to make sure the crib isn’t on a recall list. You are preparing to train another human being; to be the male role model for a person who will be contributing, in some shape or form, to the global community. Wow! It really is an amazing assignment to take on. I honor all fathers who have chosen to accept.

Anyway, I read somewhere the importance of establishing a visual bond with your child from the first time they open their eyes. The article’s premise was that if you connect with your child through staring at him or her, the child will feel comforted, supported, and safe. Made sense to me. I loved sitting on the couch with my baby boy, leaning over him and looking at him straight in the eye. I will always remember the first time that HE really got it, and he let go a really big grin. It was then that I knew he saw me. He gurgled, giggled, and drooled. What a moment! The eye-bonding advice has since become #1 on my list. (Wait… ReTweet with comment: “It was then that I knew he saw me. I gurgled, giggled and drooled.” Sorry).
            Additionally, I believe there is a hidden disciplinary aspect that comes with the eye contact process. I realize the term ‘discipline’ is the unturned stone in parenting, especially when looked at from the father’s perspective. The roster of choices reads from “don’t spare that rod!” to “I would never hit my child!” I’m not a child psychologist and won’t condone any particular brand of discipline. However, I have established a simple disciplinary relationship with my son, and it doesn’t involve me raising my hand or opening my big mouth.

I just look at him. Although he knows he’s loved, safe, and cared for, he also knows when dad is not playing. Things get done when I give him my cold eye. When he was younger, he’d sit down at McDonalds, or stop acting up at school. As he’s gotten older, he knows that he needs to take the garbage out, or clean up after himself. I also use it to reinforce positive behavior. I’ll give smiling eyes when he does well in school (along with the mandatory high-five or ubiquitous fist bump), or I’ll look at him and tell him to hold his head up and walk proudly, looking others straight on as well. I believe that the truth, honesty, and integrity of a man comes first from his eye. That’s just how I roll.
So from the moment they open those wrinkled lids, look at your child and smile. Look at them as the precious bundle of joy they truly are. Smile and silently communicate to them that you will be there for them when they are in need, that you will take care to provide them with comfort, peace, and safety. Look at them for so long, you get lost in the innocence of those sparkling, marble-sized gems. Look at them and whisper “hey, I got your back.” Time flies, they’ll make mistakes (BIG ones!), and other influences begin to sneak up before you know it. Hopefully, they’ll always know you are there, even though they can’t see you. But the comforting visualization of looking at dad may sway them in a direction that will contribute to their maturity, and to the satisfaction that you have done your best.

I appreciate the dads at #DadsTalking. Our chat last night (weekly on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET) was in regard to video games: age appropriateness, privacy settings, etc. If you’re a dad, come join us. It’s wireless group therapy! WITH NO HOURLY FEE! So, a big shout-out to my daddy tweeps! And if you aren’t on Twitter, and don’t know an @ from a #, I don’t have time to help you. I’m too busy looking at my son.

For Josh and Vince


  1. VERY COOL POST!!!!! Wow! Well said! Especially the part about me looking cool! LOL Seriously though...this post really resonated with me. I felt like I was right there in your shoes as you typed this. We might have different families and different life experiences but we share a common bond. We also share a lot of the same core values.

    Thanks for the adda boy and for becoming such an incredible contributor to our community!!!

  2. You're the man, counselor! I love how you roll! Haha. I've got a picture for you to look at. I'll post it on twitter soon. It was one year ago tomorrow. My daughter's birthday. After they got her cleaned up and she finished nursing, I wrapped her up and just stared into each other's eyes. It was an incredible bonding experience! They eyes definitely have it! Rock on, counselor!

  3. The info unrelated directly to DadsTalking is GREAT info and the fact that you've found community is just icing on the cake. Great post, great info, this is what it's all about!

    Did the same thing with my three children (tweens/teen now) when they were infants. Eyes indeed. Reading this brought back those times, fresh in my mind like it was yesterday. Time to go look at some old pictures. Lol.