I have no idea who spoke during my college graduation ceremony or what she (I think it was a woman) said. Chances are, she talked about passion, service to others, following your dream, learning from failure, changing the world, fears, opportunity, blah, blah, blah. Commencement speeches often follow these worthy themes.
Here is what I wish somebody had told me and today’s college graduates need to hear: READ MORE
Dearest Daughter –
Daddy’s little girls. I’ve been blessed to have two in my life. You were the first. And you were the one who didn’t get the daddy you deserved.
Today, I’m again compelled to say: I’m so sorry. READ MORE
1:26pm A loud siren can be heard right outside the apartment. 10 seconds later, a loud child can be heard awakening in her crib.
1:40pm Get her ready to go to lunch, but our departure is delayed. The princess is missing one of her slippers. The missing shoe is finally discovered under her changing table. I wonder how it got there?
1:45pm Arrive at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants. Get a great table outside.
2:05pm Three young, attractive women stop by our table and gawk at Sabine.
2:10pm Another young woman stops by and marvels at the cuteness of the daddy-daughter lunch date.
2:15pm Another woman stops by.
2:20pm Two more women stop by.
2:22pm I remember that I’m married.
2:45pm Leave the restaurant, stop and get a movie, then head home.
2:53pm Talk to Marilee by phone for the first time today. Says she’s coming home early. I tell her the child is fine. She repeats, “I’m coming home early.”
3:49pm Sabine throws her first fit of the day. Lasts only 15 seconds as she quickly realizes I’m not the parent who spoils her.
10:40am I receive an email from a network president asking when I might “have a second to chat.” He must not be following me on twitter today.
10:45am Diaper still not changed.
10:51am I ask Sabine a simple question: what’s that on your face?! I eventually got it off, but I honestly don’t know what it was.
10:52am “Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog!”
11:00am No more Mickey. We’re now watching Sportcenter. I gently explain to Sabine that from now on, her only cartoon mouse options are Speedy Gonzales, Jerry, Pinky, or The Brain.
11:05am Diaper changed. Wow. I had no idea momma had Sabine on a high-fiber diet.
11:12am Pick up Sabine, and she immediately rests her head on my shoulder.
11:20am Little one is sleeping. I have at most two hours to get work done.
11:28am This nap won’t last long if my upstairs neighbor keeps dropping s— on the floor!
9:45am Pulled out the FAO Schwartz “Big Piano” for her to play. Neighbors lovin’ us right now.
9:52am Piano didn’t occupy her for long. To the kitchen we go! Pots and pans are all over the floor. Our next homecooked meal will have a hint of baby feet.
10:05 First signs that it might be naptime. Rubbing the eyes. Getting a little irritable. But I’ll be OK. Where is Sabine, by the way?
10:11am Sabine goes into her room and closes the doors behind her. AND, turns on her white noise machine. If I can get this kid to change her own diaper and cook her own meals, I’ll be golden.
10:21am Was attempting to make some notes for my commencement speech to the Clark Atlanta class of 2014. Sabine has crawled halfway into the fireplace. Hands are black with ash.
10:30am Is Mickie Mouse always on TV this much?!?! Good lord. He’s the Anderson Cooper of the Disney Junior Channel. Oh, I should probably change her diaper, huh?
I just cancelled my entire week. No meetings, no events, no appearances, no travel. Instead, I’ve been handed an assignment that will require my full attention. And her name is Sabine.
This is our first child care emergency, I suppose. We got late word that Sabine’s regular daily caregiver would have to be out for the week. So, it’s on me.
But so far, so good. Right?
8:20am Marilee leaves for the day. I immediately hear Sabine say, “it’s on now, Daddy!” (Though it’s baby babble, I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.)
8:45am Sabine has been in front of the TV the past half hour watching “The Bible” miniseries on BluRay. (Don’t ask) I’m able to write a few emails and finish writing an article in that time. This calm will not last.
8:55am Been chasing Sabine between the bedroom and the living room. She can’t seem to decide if she wants to watch “The Bible” which is playing on the TV in the bedroom … or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse which is on the TV in the living room.
9:00am If I hear Mickey’s damn “Hot Dog” song one more time, I might actually have a breakdown.
9:23am I just heard the “Hot Dog” song again.
9:35am Sabine attempts a somersault off the couch. She sticks the landing.
In 2008, Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete gave me a simple task. Six years later, I have yet to complete it. Now, the tragedy of abducted Nigerian schoolgirls is a reminder of my failures over the past several years.
I was part of a delegation attending an international summit in Tanzania when I first met President Kikwete. At that time, I was still working at CNN. During a conversation with the president, the question came up about the limited coverage we (CNN & Western media) dedicate to what’s happening in Africa. When I mentioned a possible lack of interest from viewers, President Kikwete stopped me. He refused to accept that as an excuse and instead emphatically insisted: “make them care!” I will never forget that moment.
Kikwete’s simple statement was at the top of my mind in 2011, when I walked into the New York office of one of CNN’s senior executives (he’s no longer with the network), and we argued about Africa. Specifically, I wanted to do an extended segment about South Sudan gaining independence. He was against it. “We shouldn’t spend too much time on stories that people won’t watch,” he argued. He attempted to placate me by explaining his philosophy this way: We have to cover the stories that get us ratings, and then, get in a story like South Sudan wherever we can.
This wasn’t the first or last time I’d had a conversation like this during my career. On countless occasions, my story or segment ideas were rejected because news managers and producers (and not just the white ones) thought the audience wasn’t interested, no matter how relevant, timely, or even interesting the story might be. READ MORE
They say it takes a village to raise a child
But I’ve heard and come to feel the opposite
It takes a child to raise a village
Young men on corners like 80’s graffiti
While the cops chase artists responsible for the gritty–my bad city
It’s synonymous but they don’t want pity
That’s why their stare is anonymous and the air ominous
Filled with broken homes and promises
Cus mostly you find police chalk line
Is the only time we figure a father so they figure might as well be a martyr
And we fly only to crash down might as well be mortars
The weight of the world is too much for our mothers
Young men on corners like Thursday’s trash
Waiting for government workers to pick them up READ MORE
What a night! I was anxious to get back home to New York after 3 days in Washington, DC. The weather has been beautiful lately in NYC and lends itself to dining alfresco. A night out at one of my favorite restaurants was in order. No need to make a reservation. They know us well there. “How many in your party tonight, T.J.?” “One and a half,” I replied. “And, can we have a high chair, please?”
The two of us have been out to restuarants together plenty of times before. It’s always fun and interesting, but we’ve always done breakfast or lunch. Her age, bedtime, and mood often dictate that she can’t be out so late. On this night, we were making an exception. This was actually our first ever dinner date. Just the two of us.
And my little dinner companion was a hit. We sat at a great table situated on the corner of 3rd Avenue in Manhattan. With the steady stream of pedestrians, we made a lot of new friends who kept stopping to check out my date’s big smile, big blue eyes, and bigger-by-the-day hair. I always love when people are impressed by my date! This was a little different, however.
It was all a little different. This date didn’t mind that I ordered for her, or that I cut up her food into little pieces. The conversation was good and constant, even though we speak two different languages. (English & baby babble) And, at the end of dinner, there was no awkward moment over who would pay the bill.
A few years ago, I might have been racing home from an out-of-town trip so I could hook up with (fill in the blank) for a date night of dinner and drinking, with every intention of taking her back to my place. Well, last night, at the end of the night, I took my date home. Took her home, changed her diaper, put diaper rash paste on her butt, put her pajamas on, read through her “My Itsy Bitsy Spider Tab Book,” and rocked her to sleep. What a night!
I wrote an article a few months ago about giving up my perfectly good bachelor life. Who knew that giving it up would eventually lead to much better date nights.