Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years later

My life was changed by what happened this day 10 years ago, like everyone else that was here then.

I was 3 weeks into my second semester at FAU. I had a quiz that day, I was going over my notes when my Mother told me that "we're being attacked"

I turned on the news. Saw it. I cried. I felt it coming. I knew it. I knew what was going to happened. And it happened. Less than two months later my reserve unit was activated, less than two years later I was in Iraq.

When the Army gave 2 weeks to go home in December of 2003 I bought plane tickets to go with my wife to NYC, it was the first time back to the city since it had happened. I saw the hollowed ground. I cried again.

When I finally got back from that long deployment and decided to become a full time civilian, I made myself a promise that I will move on, that I will not let these horrible moments define who I am. I have failed and succeeded at the same time.

I failed because my involvement in the war has defined my identity. I am, and always will be a veteran of Iraq, that cannot change. I still think about it, some things I cannot forget, it happens less and less often now, but every once in a while I find myself scanning the roofs, looking around for suspicious looking stuff out in the streets as if I was driving in Ramadi. I fail because I can't help myself and I bring it up. But anyway, I promised that I would move on, acknowledge what happened, and then move to a new phase of my life.

That's the part I like, I came back and did what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a computer engineer. I wanted to have a normal family, own a house, have a career that didn't involve putting up with B.S. I did all that. For that I am thankful.

So that's what we need to do. Acknowledge what happened 10 years ago and move on, do the next thing. Continue making the U.S. the best country in the world to live in. Life goes on. Live free, prosper, persevere, be industrious, create, do remember, but don't live in the past, there's no need to scan the roof, the boogie man is gone.


Monday, September 05, 2011

The Art of Parenting, an Introduction to the Fundamentals

I was reading a blog post from a friend of mine that I met in the Army. He's about to become a father and he's writing about things he has to do from now on, it reminded me of the days right before Anthony came to the world. I was so scared, I knew that I didn't know what was coming, I was worried about being a good parent, about doing it right, it was exciting times, stressful, so many uncertainties...I know exactly what you are going trough Eddy, you want to do it right.

So do I. I don't want to say that I got it all figured out. It has been six years, (well, it will be six at the end of September) and I must confess I still worry about whether I am doing it right. But I got a few principles that I think will help.

The #1 thing is your kid has to know that he/she is loved.

That's it. That should be easy for most people, but somehow that point gets mixed up or forgotten. If you love your kids unconditionally, no strings attached, if you can do that, that's half the battle. Be there, give em lots of love.

There has been a bunch of psychological studies

Teach the kids how to think for themselves

Critical thinking is tough, it's easier to just tell your kid what to do, but not why he's supposed to do it. Why be polite? Why wash your hands? Why go to bed early? Why pick up after yourself? It can get tiring, but a person who is used to reasoning will be able to make wise decisions later.

Instill a sense of wonder in your kids

That one is easy, kids are naturally curious creatures. I love it when they asked me questions like, how did the earth get here? How come we have eyes? (they have seriously asked me that) In many ways, reality is so much stranger than fiction. I love to tell them that there are many things that we don't know yet, and maybe when you get old enough you can get the answer for the rest of us. It would be a crime to kill their curiosity with a bunch of easy answers to stuff we honestly don't know.

Show good character

This is a tough one, I would like my kids to show integrity, courage, compassion and all of that, but the only way to do that without lecturing, is for them to see it in yourself. Kids are acutely aware of what you parents are doing. They may not get everything yet, but they can pick up when there are discrepancies between what you say and what you do. Make sure that you practice what you preach, or else you will be teaching hypocrisy.

That's it. Not a lot of rules to remember. It's not easy, but if you keep those in mind, you'll be ok.