My failures as a father

It is a few days after Father’s Day.

Today I have failed my son Brandon as a dad and I feel bad about it.

I took my son to the barber, because he wanted a different hair style. Yet, he stepped from the barbers chair with the same style he walked in with although it was a little neater. I should have been more assertive and told the barber what the boy wanted.

But I want the boy to fend for himself, to communicate what he wants in life on his own. That did not happen today and I stood by and watched it happen. The burden is on me. A dad needs to take charge.

The boy is 6-foot-3 and is 17 years old. He cannot play basketball or baseball. That’s on me also. I worked two jobs for most of my life and was never home for the prime time sports time between a son and his dad to learn how to hit through a baseball and not pop it up, how to do a drop step in basketball and how to block out.

I wasn’t even there many weekends. I was often out of town and sometimes exhausted on a Saturday morning or afternoon when I was in town. He instead played soccer, a sport that I never believed suited him well.

I always felt like I needed to chase the next big story or radio show. I put job ahead of family.

He should have been honing his skills in basketball or baseball.

I have not ignored the boy for 17 years. I am his writing coach and sometimes life coach. He has a big heart and treats people with respect. Brandon loves to work with those less fortunate and even coached developmentally challenged kids in soccer. He works hard in school and his goal is to attend Michigan State University. I wanted both of my children to have a better chance at making it in life than I did.

That part has been a success. He lives in a neighborhood where he is not chased by thugs trying to steal his money as I was. He does not have to mingle with drug dealers, numbers runners and just bad ass duded as I did.

He’s thought about college way before I did. Nobody went to college in my family when I was younger and I just thought that was the way life was for inner city kids. But good friends began to show me a path toward higher education and I graduated from Central Michigan University after four years.

My best gifts on Father’s Day were not the cards or lunch. It was the notes I received from my children Celine and Brandon.  Celine said she learned work ethic and how to write because of me.

Brandon said I have taught him a lot about how life works and he appreciates the time we spend together.

The words meant a lot. They were appreciated by the old man.

I just feel like I must do more.







Home is where the heart is

Celine went through her first crisis at Stanford University and I knew she was having a tough time. Maybe that’s why I got really sad when she sent me this cartoon text.

It broke my heart.

I could actually see my daughter on the moon looking back at home, wishing she were here. It is the first time since she began school that there seemed to be a melt down.

She’s made a decision not to just be a student at Stanford. She is a campus leader and is trying to make a difference. I am fine with that but when you attempt to stand out people are going to take shots at you no matter how well intended your advocacy is. In other words they only hit the one carrying the ball.

Celine ran for sophomore class president and emphasized improving mental health awareness on campus and is organizing a mentorship program where seniors and juniors can mentor under classmen. During the campaign an underground newspaper said there was more back stabbing during the race than a “Game of Thrones” episode. Since Celine won freshman class president she was the target of many of the arrows.

And it hurt.

This is the draw back of sending your kid so far away from school. Although they are technically adults you still want to wrap a arm around them and protect them. If she were at the University of Michigan or Michigan State I would have driven to campus for lunch or dinner and a good heart to heart talk.

I cannot fly to California whenever I want because flights are expensive. I am on Face book. I don’t own it

We have friends who sent their children to New York, Tennessee, Georgia and California. They all got home sick and some came back home.

During the presidential race there were allegations of campaign violations by one party who may or may not have thrown an illegal party with booze. There were reports that Celine’s party exceeded the $400 spending limits set by the campus. She disputed that report and she proved that she spent $388.

This was Hillary and Donald all over again.

Then she told us that she did not win the election, which I was fine with me. She is doing so many things that she does not need to be class president. The girl  became sad and talked  about her friends at Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State.

Then came the cartoon text.

I wanted her to attend school in the state of Michigan coming out of high school. But then I saw how well she fit in at Stanford I wanted to do everything I could to make that a reality. I’d welcome her back but I know she loves that school and her friends there. It is the perfect place for her. She does not love Michigan. She does not love Michigan State.

She loves Stanford and I did not want chatter to drive her back home.

The other day I got a cheerful phone call from my daughter. She was saying “you know dad. They only hit you if you are carrying the ball or if you are doing something that matters.”

Hmmmmmm. I wonder where she got that from?

She won her election with 57 percent of the vote over three other parties. She made the Dean’s List academically. And although she misses home and her friends here, she is no longer sad about not being here.

She is staying out there for the summer and will be a tour guide. So if you visit Stanford this summer and want a tour, ask for Celine Foster. She gives a great tour. She is also working on organizing freshman orientation this fall.

Crisis over.




I hit Mega Millions, but here is the bad news

mega millions.jpgMy gut instinct was correct. I’d hit on the Mega Millions lottery and I felt a rush of joy and then disappointment.

My children were in a party store with me after I ran the bar codes on the tickets to see if I hit.

“Hey Brandon an Celine,” I shouted across the store. “I have good news and bad news.”

They ran up to me to see what had pop in an uproar.

“The good news is I hit the Mega Millions lottery,” I said. “The bad news is it was for $4.”

I didn’t even know that was possible? How can the state tease you like that? I thought you either won a huge jackpot, this time for $450 million, or you lost. Some lucky bastard in Florida won the big prize and did not share his winnings with me.

I wanted to buy a new car. I wanted to peel off a few million to my girl Lady Di, who sold me the ticket and I wanted to completely pay off Stanford University, where my daughter goes to school and Michigan State, where my son hopes to study.

I wanted to retire in style and treat myself to something fun and outlandish. I’d give more to my favorite charities and I have a dream of opening up a non profit in the city of Detroit. I’d hire artistic kids to design T-shirts, posters and hats and other city kids to market and sell the items to give them a chance of making a little money and give them hope for the future.

Instead I had a whopping $4, which I used as a down payment for my kids’ lunch. I still owed $11.38.

I did not have enough money to open that non profit, but I had enough money after my lottery winnings to buy a couple pairs of socks, a Junior Whopper and fries or shaving cream.

The condo in Hawaii will have to wait.


USA Gymnasts must stay strong. My daughter could be next

usa gymnastWhen my daughter Celine trotted off to college I made a statement she didn’t quite understand.

She wanted to know what my biggest fear was for her in school. I said my biggest fear was her becoming friends with a football player. Sometimes friendships turn into assumptions. Football players are the big men on campus and many believe they can have sexual relations with any woman whether it is consensual

or not.

Even if the woman says “no” she means yes because she should be honored to be with the star running back or quarterback.

If Celine were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted she have to answer questions as “Why was she wearing a short skirt?” or “Was her top too low?”

In other words did she get what she deserved?

I as  a dad could not handle that.

This brings us to the Outside the Lines investigation on Michigan State where it appears that the school hid facts about sexual assault and protected the athletes from the law. I’ve heard stories like this about several schools, but when you investigate you are stone-walled by officials and shut out from doing your job.

I’ve heard this several times over the years. “Why do you want to ruin a young man’s life?”

I counter that by saying a life has already been ruined. When an athlete rapes a woman you don’t just wipe your hands of the incident and everything disappears. The woman lives with that the rest of her life.

We’ve seen suicides, eating disorders, trust issues and sometimes these women have a tough time having a stable relationship afterwards.

Besides, if Celine reported an incident she won’t be believed and would have much of the school against her. That’s why women go months and sometimes years without saying something. And I’m certain many of them were scolded and asked “Are you sure you want to do this?” Why do you want to ruin a young man’s life?”

Unfortunately what we’ve heard about Michigan State is common place. Schools want to protect the team and the brand above else. But when you handle things as poorly as State does and there is this much information hitting the news you risk having the entire thing blown up.

The women that blew the whistle on Larry Nassar are being called brave women and heroes now. But they were not called that years ago. They were disrupting the gravy train known as USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.

Here is what I will call them. Trailblazers. Please continue to hang together and speak out because my daughter could be next. So now when a woman reports being sexually abused at any school the school, police department and athletic department will launch real investigations and punish those that did wrong.

I worry about my kid because she is on the other side of the country at Stanford. But it was soothing to hear that one night she was in a different dorm and there were rumors of a predator near the building. The kids would not let her walk home and forced her to spend the night with them.

How many times have we heard an athlete being benched for a meaningless game against Idaho or Alcorn State for breaking team rules. And we never find out why he was punished.

How many times do you believe that was for a sex crime that is being swept under the rug?

I want schools to be transparent because my daughter could be next and this is a father that won’t walk the company line.You damn right I will ruin a young man’s life if he ruins my daughter’s life.


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