We know Scott Benner as the great D-Dad from New Jersey who's behind the blog, Arden's Day. You know, the diabetes daddy blog named for his daughter Arden who's been living with type 1 since age 2 in 2006.
Of course, Scott's been blogging and advocating for a number of years in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). But he's been all over the news in 2013 with the release of his new book, Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.
I mentioned Scott's book in an April post and said this about it:
Released April 2, I had a chance to read through this 228-page paperback and have to say it's one of the best I've read in a long time. No, diabetes doesn't take center stage, and that's just one thing I really liked about it. This is a personal story from a guy sharing his own experiences — the good, bad and ugly. I found myself laughing and crying and running all through my emotional spectrum, particularly when it came to the type 1 diagnosis story of his young daughter, Arden. I very much enjoyed getting a glimpse into Scott's day-to-day activities and seeing how diabetes, and other duties like doing those dreaded loads of laundry, all fit together. This is just a great human story that most of us can relate to and partake in the emotions, and to me that makes it all the more worth reading. This goes for $11.28 on Amazon.
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With Father's Day just around the corner this coming weekend, we thought it'd be great to not only remind everyone about Scott's book, but invite him to share some special insights about diabetes and daddy-hood. We're especially proud to host him, as this post comes just after Scott snagged an interview with Katie Couric for her Yahoo online show, Katie's Take, in New York City. Scott says he made her laugh, and Katie's producer apparently says that interview will run sometime this week of June 10th, which could mean more potential TV spots for Scott... How cool!
We're also proudly offering you a chance to win a personally autographed copy of his book...
A Guest Post by Scott Benner
"The outcome is not important."
Those are some of the last words of wisdom that I imparted to my son Cole as he walked out the door for school... "I only care about how you do it, not what the outcome is." In this instance I was talking about baseball, but as Cole walked out of our front door, it struck me that this advice had broader implications. I stuck my head outside and continued, "Actually, that's great advice for everything -- don't forget that, we don't care about the outcome as much as we do the path that we take to get there!"
I may be a bit different than most but I don't focus on the result when it comes to raising my children, I trust that the desired result will be there at the end if we take positive steps here in the now. It's a lot of pressure when the expectation is that you are in charge of making something turn out perfect. Actually, I find the notion that anyone can make complex situations turn out a certain way to be preposterous. Having expectations of perfection can only lead to disappointment.
That analogy certainly applies to type 1 diabetes, and that same long-term focus is how I view my daughter Arden's diabetes treatment.
Benjamin Franklin once said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." But failure is a certainty. We all fail. However, failure is a mis-characterization of a task not yet mastered. You only truly fail once you've given up. Modern parents often forget that trying and falling short is the greatest learning experience. Parents try to manipulate their children's realities to fit their skills, robbing them of life's greatest and most valuable lesson... Every clichÃ© about getting knocked down applies here, please insert your own. I will be singing the Chumbawamba classic, 'Tubthumping.'
People with diabetes are striving for perfection in a world where perfection doesn't exist very often. The honest truth is that when things do actually go just as you planned, that perfect result has little to do with you. Well, maybe that's not completely fair. You took the steps, you made the choices, you threw the pitches -- but so much is left out of your hands after that. All of those almost invisible variables, the ones you have no control over, they just happened to line up well. The days when everything goes perfectly, those days are nothing more than a perfect storm. All you can do is make your pitches.
Sticking with the baseball references... I've seen a well-paid, professional baseball pitcher show up, pitch his face off and win with ease. The following week he trots out and throws the ball in an equally dominating fashion only to get his ass handed to him. You have to ask yourself, why didn't he just will himself to win? He has all of the tools, knows what to do and again performed to the best of his, considerable abilities -- so why did he lose the second game?
There will be a time in the future when our children will need to perform and succeed, but this isn't the time. Childhood is the time for them to learn and try new things. It's a time for them to fail without repercussions and find the path that is most comfortable for them. I try to encourage that notion as much as possible. Yes, I want my kids to get the best grades that they are capable of, I want them to try with every ounce of who they are no matter what the task -- but I don't care if they win, the result is meaningless... we are still working on the how.
Later that afternoon following my advice at the door, Cole stood on the pitching mound, ready as he ever was. He knew that his elbow hadn't been feeling perfectly this Spring and that he hasn't pitched as much because of it. He walked the first batter and then the second. I yelled the only encouragement to him that I believe makes sense, "Keep going!" He struck the next two out before giving up a single that scored both base runners. Cole went on to make some good pitches over the next three innings; he struck out a couple more batters and gave up a few more runs. It was not his best day, but luckily for Cole that wasn't his goal. Cole did the things that he could do, the things that are within his control. He did them as best as he could and he never gave up. When he returned home he was disappointed. I talked to him about all of the things that he did well, we spoke about the moments that he could improve on. But mostly, I told him that I was proud of him and that I thought this day would be an important part of who he was going to be in the future.
With Arden being a little ball player herself of the softball variety, she's taking that same kind of baseball-metaphor-turned-diabetes-advice to heart for both her type 1 life and when on the ball field.
Diabetes is the batter that homers off of you when you feel like you're pitching your best; it's the reminder that you aren't in control. I think that if your expectation isn't one of control, then these moments won't feel like failures, just mis-characterizations of a task not yet mastered. If you just keep going out there and trying your hardest, it will all come together just like it did for Arden last month when she was named to her second consecutive All-Star softball team.
And that is all a dad can ask for his child to learn, whether it's baseball or other sports, or diabetes.
Thanks, Scott, for those baseball-heavy life lessons. Now we're excited to let people get a crack at winning a copy of Scott's new book, complete with his autograph! Here's how...
The DMBooks Giveaway
1. Post your comment below and include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in the the text to let us know that you'd like to be entered in the giveaway.
2. You have until Friday, June 14, 2013, at 5 p.m. PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.
The contest is open to all. Batter up!
This contest is now closed. Congrats to Bryan DeMaine, who Random.org chose as the giveaway winner and will get a personalized copy of the new book!