Not in my locker room

‘If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people’

– Woolf

originally published on March 10, 2017.

Two days ago, on March 8, we celebrated International Women’s Day.  It spurred up a lot of appreciation I have for all of the women in my life.  I thought back to the great grandmothers and grandmothers I used to have in my life.  They were all so awesome and admirable, and provided such valuable insights.  Their lives seemed to span such wide timelines and generations, soaking up all of the wisdom and knowledge from wherever they roamed.  Just looking at them, you could see that they were ‘holders’ of all that information…like ancient stones among us, that have rolled a little bit of everywhere. And like the trunks of trees, sturdy and unwavering, while the rest of us stemming from them, sway and swerve up in the wind. They maintained such a stoic and solid form, but now I recognize that they also put up with more stuff than warranted, and were just able to maintain that loving, caring, gentle ‘Grammy’ status when I was around. I miss them.

I’m also so lucky to have such a great mom that lives nearby, and 4 sisters that I appreciate.  I remember growing up…dad would be at work…and I’d look around thinking, really?  All these girls around?  I can’t watch another dance recital of my younger sisters on VHS.  I can’t pretend I’m in the band Heart anymore with my older sister.  I wish I had all brothers!  Well, that was just a short phase sis’s, and I can’t be more grateful to have gone through all that.  It has provided a wonderful foundation…a unique perspective…and a specific tide that has carried me through to today.  

Right before my daughter was born, I remember some folks asking if I was hoping for a boy…if I was looking forward to playing catch with him…teaching him basketball (the sport that has been central to my life since college).  While all those experiences sounded great, I never really had that urge, and at the time I didn’t know why.  I could tell that many dads to be, or new dads…were really into that, and couldn’t wait to have a junior around.  And I don’t think I ever voiced that I wanted a girl over a boy, or even articulated that in my thoughts.  It was more of a subtle pull, and maybe a feeling that I’d be better prepared for a girl.  Not sure why at that moment it wasn’t completely clear that growing up with four sisters might help when having a daughter.  But it did.  And when I found out ‘it’s a girl’, I felt like Poppy when it’s HUG TIME!  

Having a daughter has led me to consider new ideas, and think about equality within the sexes.  Should my daughter have the same opportunities as boys her age?  Should she be able to make the same amount of money for the same job that a male works?  Should she be comfortable and free to be strong, outspoken, or even radical?  Damn right she should.  Go do it girl!

Matilda…working on her L’s…for ‘radicaL’

This week, I heard a woman speaking of the ‘locker room talk’ subject that was such a focus during this past year’s election.  I have to say this…when that term was used, I (being a man) felt generalized…grouped into this stereotype of all men that talk about women like that to other men…in areas like locker rooms.  Since then, I haven’t heard any guy dispute that.  I have not gone looking online.  I’m sure those guys are out there.  I forgot about it for a while, but then hearing it again this week gave me the nudge to finally get it out.  

We don’t all talk like that. Guys don’t just leisurely use that language when women aren’t around…at least guys that are in my circle.  Of course different social environments bring out a variety within our language.  Just as I remember speaking differently when walking in to Grammy’s house.  But I just have to speak for myself here…and make it clear that I’m not in that group.  I don’t talk like that…and that doesn’t happen here.  Not in my locker room.

By the way, I have some reading recommendations for this topic.  Last year, I read ‘We should all be Feminists’, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  It’s a great essay, directly calling to keep feminism alive, and recognize the injustices in our current landscape.  A couple of weeks ago, I read ‘Men explain things to me’, by Rebecca Solnit.  This is a collection of 7 essays, some of them full of hard to read statistics…and all of them helpful in understanding gender inequalities.   

Part 2:

On a lighter note, if I had a locker room…music would be there.  Music has been a huge part of my every day in the past year or so.  For some reason, I had put it away for a while.  It was something for the car, or for exercise, or mowing the lawn. But it wasn’t a focus.  More recently, I’ve been exploring music, learning about, diving in, looking for connections, trying to play it myself, finding more emotional responses, and constantly searching for artists to appreciate more of.  It’s opened up a whole new world for me and I can’t get enough.  Click HERE to listen to an artist that I think has ‘it’.  

What do I mean by ‘it’?  What does Shakey have that others don’t?  What comes to mind for me is the ability to convey the original message or thoughts into the final product.  In other words, an artist has ideas, thoughts and feelings and creates something related to that.  However, sometimes with the tools at hand (voice, guitar, paintbrush, camera, etc.), that message may change…may be lost in translation.  And the final product, presented as a song, a poem, a painting…may not get at the original scope.  In this song…this performance…I feel that everything is brought out.  The sounds and words feel sifted through the artists own strainer.  Filtered and processed with all the right tools, at the right pace, and with all the perspective that only this artist can provide.

Maybe it’s just an authenticity that I recognize, or a genuineness felt.  My words are what feel about the art…but I cannot know the artists true desire or goals for a piece.  When I was younger, I used to try to ‘figure out’ a lot of songs, and always wondered, what are they really saying here, what are they going through that made them create this, who is this meant for???  What I’ve come to realize, and what I really love about art though, is that it’s all about how it makes me feel.  It’s that simple.  I think the art is simply what the artist was feeling at that given moment.  Song lyrics aren’t all true or real life, they’re not all attached to one person, and I don’t think it’s fair for the observer to determine the original meaning of the piece. We can only guess. I’ve found a much deeper connection by simply trying to ‘feel’ a song or a painting, not trying to necessarily define it.  

Anyway, I hope you feel it like I do!

sandwiches and kids

Jimmy 12


modeling good behavior has 10x the influence of all that talking, the kids are watching’   emailsig


How do we make good behaviors stick with our children?  I’ve been ‘head down’ focused on this a lot lately.  I have a 4 year old.  There are constantly new behaviors bubbling up…good and bad.  I’m doing my best to be really aware…noticing what’s working, and what’s not on the parenting front.


Model.  First and foremost, I’ll say that I continue to be amazed at how much my daughter notices my behavior…and how important it is for me to model the good stuff.  All the research backs this up as well.  Your child is watching what you do more than listening to what you say.

To me, it seems that modeling good behavior has 10x the influence of all that talking.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m communicating and explaining and clarifying all the time.  It’s just that the old adage, ‘actions speak louder than words’ is the truth.  We can’t tell our child to walk away from a fight if they watch us bump chests and instigate.

Honey over Vinegar. When we do talk, it’s so important to focus on our children’s strengths…not their weaknesses.  All too often, parents are hounding on the mistakes, over-talking the accidents, and holding their child back from their full potential.  For the most part, once an individual knows that a mistake was made, and the message to ‘try not to do that again’ is conveyed…all the extra, negative reinforcement is just that.  Obviously, each situation is unique, and the severity of the behavior needs to be considered.  For the everyday ‘small stuff’ though, keep the glass half full.

Focusing on the good behaviors, has such a refreshing and compounding effect.  By taking the extra time to really look your child in the eyeballs, and tell them again how kind and caring that desired behavior was,  you’ll continue to invite more of it.

Last week, my daughter exhibited some really good awareness and empathy surrounding a best friend that was having some trouble.  She actually asked a separate friend to run and get something that would help the situation…then, they all figured it out together.  I was so happy and proud about this, and almost couldn’t believe that my 4 year old constructed this.  But instead of just thinking about this, or telling my peers, I’ve deliberately paused with Matilda, grabbed her attention, looked her in the eye, and explained how and why that was such a great thing for her to do.  I’ve actually done it twice to really let her know that this is the good stuff.

Sandwiching.  While focusing on the strengths and good behaviors, we can really make it stick by ‘sandwiching’ the experience with pre-teaching and reflection.  Before our child is exposed to something, it’s good to get a bug in their ear first.  This can give that little message that, ‘oh…dad told me that this might happen.’  It doesn’t necessarily mean that our child won’t make a mistake.  In fact, we actually want them to make the mistake…it will help expedite the learning process and mitigate the effect of the ego. Yes!  I used ‘expedite’ and ‘mitigate’ in the same sentence!  So rewarding.

Our pre-teaching is also a trust-building practice, illustrating to our children that we do know a little something, and have been around the block a few times.

Now, this behavior that took place with my daughter wasn’t something that I necessarily could have planned for.  I mean, I do talk about empathy and kindness with her, but the actual details of the event were too particular to pre-teach.  I have to give myself some credit though, in that I have put effort into conversations surrounding helping others, and why that matters.

I think parents are too hard on themselves.  I think they need to realize that they are much more than the sum of their parts.

With a more typical experience approaching in the future, parents can really hone in on the related behaviors.

If a best friend is coming over for a play date, we can relay the message to our child that the friend will want to use all of the toys.  Sharing is going to come up.  Let’s do that…huh?

Then, as we all know, our child will rip something from their besties’ innocent little paws.  Crying and arguing may commence…and we should really do our best to let this play out…to see what kind of results are reached…to allow problems to be solved.  This is the socialization that we’re hoping for.  And boy, will these same issues come up more and more as they age.  Let them work it out if possible!  It’s ok if feelings get hurt…we learn a lot when we find ourselves in unwanted emotional states.  Again, this is within reason.

Remember though, we have to use the ‘reflection’ piece after the experience takes place.  This can’t be while your kid is on the tablet, or watching a show  It can’t be during the actual argument that they just had with their friend either.  This is best done after some time has passed, once the friend has gone home…or during a break in the action.

Eye contact is key.  Deliberate, honest words presented with love and care.  Not judgment and belittlement.  Think support and education and growth…not placement and insults and punishment.

There can be an ‘I told you so’ aspect to this reflection piece, because you actually did tell them so in the pre-teaching phase…ugh, the nerve!  As much as you may want to use this…don’t.  The lesson will naturally come to them through your discussion of what transpired.  This reflection can build trust as well, depending on how you handle it.  Let it be positive, bucket filling, and hold good karma.  It’s not measurable, and it may return in unforeseen manifestations…but boy, does it matter.

Remember, after all this talking to your kid about the practice of letting others use their stuff, your child will be 10x more influenced by how you yourself actually share and help others.

How are you doing with that?

All love!

Jimmy Thorpe