Being a parent was something that was always in the back of my head as something that I wanted to accomplish some day but not something that I would ever be ready for. Being a parent to Ty has been one of the most difficult things I have had to do in my life. While it does have its rewards, it is a hard job and probably the biggest responsibility that I have ever carried in my life. Every single action that I take around him has consequences, and at times it feels like I don’t have a clue, it makes me feel very powerless.

Sometimes I also feel too strict, but I end up not thinking is a bad thing. Now that I have to be a parent to a child I can get on a high horse and while it only has been for the past year I can start calling myself a parent. At least I feel a little more comfortable with the title.

I am very old fashion when it comes to a child’s upbringing. I believe that they should never be involved in adult conversation. I believe that they should never talk back and that they should always listen the first time. I also believe that children crave discipline and are in a never ending struggle with boundaries and trying to push them. It is our nature as humans to find our identity. Granted not all of us are leaders and some of us take identities given by society or others, but in the search of it we create a personality and become “ourselves.” I believe parents are a huge influence on what a child becomes, while still knowing that each person will become what they chose.

I believe that rules are important; I also believe that rules should never be broken. Rule breaking becomes a vicious cycle. If we tell a kid not to do something, but for whatever reason we allow it, we are losing credibility by making rules flexible to situations. Kids are smart and will try to see what other situations allow for rules to be broken. At times I really become too much of a disciplinarian and I am trying to balance it out with love. Giving and showing and much love as I can. I hope that it will reach a happy medium.

I recently read an article that I believe has excellent advice…

Jacobsen’s tough-love solution clarifies the difference between rights and privileges. Rights include an abuse-free environment; adequate shelter, clothing and food; and access to education and basic health.

To your child’s horror, everything else is a privilege. That includes television and phone time, computers, in-line skates, dinner at McDonald’s, laundry service, $150 athletic shoes and copious amounts of soda per week. “Control over your child’s privileges is key to better behavior,” writes Jacobsen, an expert in child guidance and developmental psychology.

Her system teaches parents to allocate privileges on a contingency basis. Good behavior means privileges are “on”; bad behavior means they’re “off.” The all-or-nothing approach will have a dramatic effect on your youngster, she promises.

We have actually tried a similar approach and it has had some positive effects. Like anything else it is about consistency. Another approach that works if used correctly is timeouts. They have to be done as a form of cooling and not punishment. To have the child stand in the time out spot until they are ready to discuss the behavior that needs to be corrected. They pretty much stay in the time out until they get to the right frame of mind.

I know I don’t have all the answers, I know that I need to learn a lot more. All I know is that being a parent is a hard job and people need to take it seriously.

Respect Revisited

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.”
-Laurence Sterne

I have already written a post about respect, and I mentioned on that post how the respect topic for me cannot be contained in a single post. I think respect is a trait that can really reflect who someone really is. Learning respect is probably one of the hardest things we have to do in life, because if we don’t learn about it early on we are going to hit our heads against many walls.

Everybody has his or her own definition and levels of respect. While someone might not find obscene words disrespectful, someone else might. It is all a matter of your environment. I have very high standards for the respect that I expect and it constantly causes me to be hurt. I find it offensive when people talk about people of other races being inferior, and I feel personally disrespected when people do it. Ignorance at times can hurt and when someone around me says, “People that come to this country should learn how to speak English,” it hurts me. I still have plenty of people in my family with limited knowledge of English. It is not that they don’t want to learn it, it is that they don’t have the capacity.

I feel that is a lack of respect to talk about subjects that people don’t understand. While I do believe that someone that wants to become a part of society in America has to learn English, it is easier said than done. Some people because of their age, money or time constraints do not have the ability to learn how to speak proper English. Should those people not be allowed to have a place in the Land of the free?

Something I found interesting about a linguistics class was that a child could learn up to 10 languages before the age of 10. Mentally it is not a challenge at all. The importance of the age was actually more physiological. After your vocal chords, nasal cavity and larynx are developed to a certain point, some sounds are very hard to produce. That is where accents come from mostly. Some people can learn English very well, but their physiognomy will prevent them from truly being able to pronounce certain sounds.

At this level respect involves being able to think about what we say before we say it. A word that for most of my life I never spoke was the word “retarded.” I found the word to be offensive. I always thought, “I never know if someone in the room has a relative who is truly retarded.” The word now a days has a new meaning and it is more often associated with the word dumb that with its true meaning. I have used it on occasion, but I still don’t like it. It might be foolish or extreme of me to think so much about a simple word but to me it comes down to respect. If I can potentially hurt someone’s feelings, it is easier for me to choose the words I use.

I know that I cannot even begin to think that I would never offend anyone. A simple misinterpretation can lead to someone being truly offended by something said with the best of intentions. Last week I was a guest speaker at a Psychology class. The teacher invited me to talk about my experience as an American with two cultures; he also wanted me to talk about racism. I began my speech with a little background about me, and then I said, “When I moved to the United States I had to learn 3 different cultures and not just one.” I went on to say that I attended high school at a school that was 90% black. While this was a fact, the audience, which was racially mixed, responded quite differently to what I had expected. I believe that even some of the black students took offense to what I said. While my remark carried no negative connotation to it, I felt it necessary to explain during the chat that I was more accepted by the black people in my school than even the other Latinos. By the end of the chat everyone was participating and it seemed like no one came out truly offended by anything that I said, but I still wonder if some of my words were found to be disrespectful in any level.

I don’t think it is foolish to care too much. I believe that the basis for any strong relationship comes from respect. As a relationship grows and we become comfortable with other people, respect should begin to grow and never diminish. I think that just because we want to be frank with people we should never disrespect them, more importantly we should find out what those people find disrespectful and truly care about them being hurt. We all have lines that we don’t like anyone to cross, while some might have broader lines than others, I believe we all have them. I think the world would be a better place if we learned that to not cross those lines it is to respect others.

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Work has been crazy lately. Today I figured that with the extra time I could run a little errand at the Secretary of State to get my new plate and title.

I always expect it to be a bad experience when I go into a DMV. People just seem to have an overall bad attitude in that place. I don’t understand it really, while they do have tons of people to tend to, it should not be that hard to smile and be helpful. My first problem is that you are always going to have to pay them for something, why is it a sin to ask them questions about the fees?

After waiting for my number to come up I slowly walked up to the counter. I had been sitting close to someone that smoked a little too much, I don’t mind the smell all that much but this guy must have smoked in his car with the window up or something. So half nauseated and numb from the torture device like chair I still manage to smile. I say hello, I need to get a new plate and title, also here is my insurance. After comparing VINS the lady just asks for my Drivers License. I was already on the process of pulling it out. So far so good, but then I made the huge mistake of asking a question.

How much will it be for a vanity plate? She acted annoyed and said it will be like 30 dollars. Mind you I was looking for an exact figure, she said it on a tone of you couldn’t afford it. I was shocked, since I had already looked online and knew it was only 8 bucks more. At this point I decided to just go ahead and get the next plate available since I wanted to just get it done and over with. So I just let the whole vanity plate thing go. I asked if there was a chance to look at a couple of the plates and see if I might like one of the numbers. While I realize that this is somewhat of an extra request, they have done it for me before. She gets a little upset and said, “we cannot do that, it will be out of order.”

At this point I could have just started to argue with her, but I just let it go and said, Ok that’s fine. Now I was getting annoyed because she was not being very helpful, but I figured oh well. While all of her attitude up to this point was understandable in some level, what happened next really started to change my attitude. Thank God for my patience. I she did not explain any of the fees to me, just handed me a piece of paper and told me to check the info for accuracy and sign. So I asked, is the plate fee prorated? And she proceeded to tell me that what my total was. Again I asked the same question and she ignored me and told me again, your fee Mr. Guzman is whatever. I just went ahead and paid because I had no time to go into further detail with the lady and I just wanted to get back to work, but believe me, if I had the time I would have had a long discussion with her.

I am not sure why so many people that work with the public have such negative attitudes. If you really do not like working with people, then go do something else. Why is it that I need to be made to feel like I am annoyance instead of a paying customer? Why can people just eagerly answer my questions until I am satisfied? Am I just too hard to please? Am I way out of line here?

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Bad drivers

Wednesday night I was in Kung Fu and we started talking about bad drivers. We did not know that very close to us an accident had just occurred (full story)

Two teenage girls were struck by a car Wednesday afternoon as they crossed Jefferson Avenue with the help of a school crossing guard, leaving one of them in critical condition.

The incident occurred at 3:04 p.m. at the intersection of Jefferson and Chapel Lane when 79-year-old Kathleen May Fournier, Midland, disregarded a school crossing guard who was helping the two girls, both age 13, cross using the crosswalk, Midland Police report. Fournier was headed north, as the girls crossed to the east.

I was recounting how there had only been one real bad incident where someone had cut me off. The bad part is that they were oblivious of what had happened. The lady driving a minivan that pulled in front of me seemed to not see my car skidding sideways toward her. Thank God I missed her car and nothing happened. Then the next morning I hear about the accident on the news. The other people in class commented how Midland was just horrible because of old drivers. One of the younger kids in the class said but why do they drive? I tried to explain to him how driving is a sense of freedom that no one wants to lose.

I feel really bad for older drivers, they are not all necesarilly bad drivers, but some of them don’t have the vision, reflexes and skills necessary for safe driving. I am torn about this, especially because in some cases they have no one to rely on for some of their needs. Also who wants to lose their sense of freedom?

Stupid Girls

Before you continue to read this entry I invite you to go over to this website and watch the Stupid Girls video. I have liked Pink since her first album, even though I have to admit that I thought she was black before I saw her first video. She has a very soulful voice and can transmit emotion with her voice in a way that I have not heard a white singer do. The first single I listened to ‘Most Girls’, was a very cool R&B hit. Her career has evolved and she has jumped genre and is now more of a pop rock kind of act, but her music is still very good, in my opinion. While other singers like Christina Aguilera have touched the subject of “our society wanting to turn girls into babies that wear a size zero dress” with the song Beautiful, Pink’s all out attack on the current “celebrity” craze is blunt and nails a straight punch into the real problem.

Webster defines celebrity as a celebrated person. When you look up celebrated, it does not state that being followed by a group of people taking pictures of you while you try to take a step just because you are in a movie, or you are rich, that you should be celebrated. I admire people’s talents. I love certain actors and their performances, they should be recognized for the work they do… but I don’t believe in the whole celebrity idea. I am not going as far as saying that celebrities are destroying our society, but people’s misunderstanding of what they are is really hurting all of us.

Just because a celebrity looks a certain way does not mean that every single woman in the world should look like her. I like fashion, my sister wanted to become a fashion designer and even though she chose a different career she still managed to make her own prom dress that came out beautiful. Fashion is cool when it shows creativity, but when a celebrity wears a hat or some kind of shoes and then everyone stars wearing it, kind of makes me sick. I wear stuff that I like, that looks cool and I feel comfortable in. I don’t wear stuff because someone else wears it. I would wear a Vote for Pedro shirt, because I love the Napoleon Dynamite movie and think it is hilarious, but not because everyone else is wearing it.

Today’s problems in our society have to do a lot with lack of identity. We are not encouraged to come up with our own identity but to pick one from a variety of established ones. We are either pro something or anti something… there is no middle, there is no gray areas and we have to adopt labels at every step we take. Since when is being a individual became an almost insurmountable quest?

Pinks video shows one of my dreams. I want to see a woman president. While the prospect of Hilary Clinton or Even Oprah becoming president scares me, I do think we need to see a woman as the president. It makes me sad when I see so many young girls wanting to look like the people they see on TV. I am even sadder when those same girls want to be older than they are and jump into adulthood when they are only 12. Is the information age overloading our young ones brain with so much information that they are confused about what they should become? I know I don’t have all the answers, I know I am still confused even though I am getting close to being 30. I also know that I am an individual and even though I ended up being defined by an array of labels like, Hispanic, Martial Artist, Biker, Geek and Gamer, I still chose to be all of those things, I am not ashamed of being called any of those things, instead I am proud to know that I can be several different things and that no label will ever define everything that I am.

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