I don’t feel very “purple” today

My wife frankly pointed out to me recently that all these expectations to be a remarkable parent can be overwhelming and downright irritating at times.  Hmmm…with a high maintenance preschooler and infant son to care for all day I cannot imagine why she might feel that way?  There are those days when you don’t feel like a “purple” parent; but should you feel guilty?  Intentional parenting is tough and often it’s just a grind.  Weeks or months can go by when you don’t see the fruits of your labor or reward for all your hard work in the lives of your kids.  We need to forgive ourselves, relax, and accept our imperfections as humans when we have one of those days or one of those weeks.  There are those times when we are on edge with our kids, tired, depressed, stressed, not so patient, and not the loving, supportive parent we want to be.  I make such a big deal about parenting with purpose and can even get a little aggravated when I see people who routinely parent “by the seat of their pants”. However, none of us are going to give our kids that perfect childhood. They will turn out okay.  Living in this imperfect or unjust world with less than perfect parents will give us all bumps and bruises, but your kids will survive and most likely develop greater resilience because of it.

A recent not so “purple” moment of mine occurred this weekend as we traveled for the first time with our preschool daughter and infant son.  (In fact – most of the weekend was anything but “purple” to be honest.) I did not feel like being a remarkable Dad or intentional parent as my son woke up twice in the night crying inconsolable as I fought a terrible bout of allergies myself.  So as not to get ourselves kicked out I ended up taking him out of the hotel (downtown Austin) twice in the middle of night while under the influence of Sudafed.  I understood exactly what my wife was trying to get across in a whole new way.  We also met a lot of interesting people coming in after a night of drinking on 6th Street.

Normal Day

Let me be aware of the treasure you are
Let me not pass you by in quest of
some rare and perfect tomorrow.
Let me hold you while I may,
for it will not always be so.
One day I shall dig my fingers into the earth,
or bury my face in the pillow,
or stretch myself taut,
or raise my hands to the sky,
and want more than all the world, your return.

(Poem given to me by a friend who today attended the Funeral Mass for Hunter Berry at St Ann Parish in Coppell.  Hunter, a Flower Mound 9 year old, died tragically July 16 while on vacation with his family.)

A father’s love for his son (Dick & Rick Hoyt)

Eighty-five times he’s pushed his disabled son, Rick, 
26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he’s not only pushed him 26.2 
miles in a wheelc hair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while 
swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars–all in 
the same day. 
Dick’s also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him 
on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a 
bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right? 
And what has Rick done for his father? Not much–except 
save his life. 
This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years 
ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, 
leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs. 
“He’ll be a vegetable the rest of his life;” Dick says 
doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. 
“Put him in an institution.” 
But the Hoyts weren’t buying it. They noticed the way 
Rick’s eyes followed them around the room. 
When Rick was 11 they too k him to the engineering 
department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help 
the boy communicate. “No way,” Dick says he was told.  “There’s 
nothing going on in his brain.” 
“Tell him a joke,” Dick countered. They did. Rick 
laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain. 
Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control 
the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was 
finally able to communicate. First words? “Go Bruins!” And after a 
high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school 
organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, “Dad, I want to do 
Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described “porker”
who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five 
miles? Still, he tried. “Then it was me who was handicapped,” Dick 
says.  “I was sore for two weeks.” 
That day changed Rick’s life.  “Dad,” he typed,  “when 
we were running, it felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!” 
And that sentence changed Dick’s life. He became 
obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got 
into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 
Boston Marathon. 
“No way,” Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts 
weren’t quite a single runner, and they weren’t quite a wheelchair 
competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick just joined the massive 
field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into the race 
officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the 
qualifying time for Boston the following year. 
Then somebody said,  “Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?” 
How’s a guy who never learned to swim and hadn’t ridden 
a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a 
triathlon? Still, Dick tried. 
Now they’ve done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 
15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old 
stud getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, 
don’t you think? 
Hey, Dick, why not see how you’d do on your own?  “No 
way,” he says. Dick does it purely for “the awesome feeling” he 
gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride 
This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished 
their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 
starters. Their best time’? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992–only 35 
minutes off the world record, which, in case you don’t keep track of 
these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another 
man in a wheelchair at the time. 
“No question about it,” Rick types. “My d ad is the 
Father of the Century.” 
And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two 
years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that 
one of his arteries was 95% clogged.  “If you hadn’t been in such 
great shape,” one doctor told him,  “you probably would’ve died 15 
years ago.” 
So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other’s life. 
Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and 
works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in 
Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches 
around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every 
weekend, including Father’s Day. 
That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing 
he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy. 
“The thing I’d most like,” Rick types,  “is that my 
dad sit in the chair and I push him once .” 

What’s Purple Cow?

Seth Godin writes in his popular business book “Cows, after you’ve seen one, or two, or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though…now that would be something. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat out unbelievable.”  Parenting has never been more challenging and truly remarkable families are more and more rare these days.  A Purple Cow family is one where parents intentionally raise their children based upon morals, values, attitude, and character traits they have mutually envisioned their children will internalize.  We are so busy and overwhelmed much of the time that we usually “parent by the seat of our parents”.  Intentional parenting that results in respectful, polite, and well-mannered children is remarkable these days.  It’s practically counterintuitive.  Confident and kind but certainly not entitled.  That’s a Purple Cow kid these days. 

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched kids

On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain

Slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You’d better slow down.

Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won’t last.

Do you run through each day

On the fly?

When you ask “How are you?”

Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done

Do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores

Running through your head?

You’d better slow down

Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won’t last.

Ever told your child,

We’ll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,

Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,

Let a good friendship die

Cause you never had time

To call and say “Hi”?

You’d better slow down.

Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It is like an unopened gift….

Thrown away.

Life is not a race.

Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.

-David L. Weatherford

Enjoy the moment

If you had a dollar for every time someone pointed out how fast your kids will grow up you could just retire now and spend more time with them.  With a vivacious, on the go, ‘where’s the party’ 4 year old girl (code: high maintenance) and a laid back, sweet, and easy 6 month old son at home I am continuously striving to enjoy all the little things about their lives while I can.  There is a lot we could do to better ourselves as spouses and parents but one thing we should all do well is ‘enjoy the moment’.  My biggest fear is waking up one day after my kids are gone with regrets.  I know the days are numbered until they leave home.  Sure, we’re all busy and moving too fast but you can refuse to let anything keep you from soaking up every moment with your family.  That’s ‘Purple Cow’ to me.

My New Blog

Welcome!  This is a place for insights, tips, and comments about kids, teens, and parenting.  The family is the most sacred institution in human history yet it has a bull’s eye firmly on its back these days.  We live hectic lives and our kids are growing up in an increasingly complex and toxic culture.  Hopefully this will be a spot where you might grab a few simple ideas that will help your family be remarkable! Respond with your own or feel free to comment so we can learn together. You can visit my website at www.drkoyroberts.com