Photo by Matt Brown on iStock

DISCLAIMER AND WARNING: I'm a proud volleyball mom. Black knows this. And, I suspect, she tolerates it most of the time, although that's not to say she isn't proud of her youngest niece. But for those proud moms and dads out there, and those around you, you know we can sometimes over exaggerate our kid's accomplishments. (Wait, really? We do that?) Guess what. There may be something we're overlooking. Something many parents are overlooking …

So, Black and I are in the midst of updating this site with our 2020 monthly newspaper columns from earlier in the year and she sends me our March column, RED & BLACK … Leaders All Around Us, to proof. I hadn't read the column since it was initially published, and it's all about leadership and the skills that leaders possess which makes me think about my daughter, Sawyer. Yes, I think she has great technical skills as a setter. (Remember, I warned you about being a proud volleyball mom.) But re-reading the column made me realize that her skills as a leader is what distinguishes her and greatly contributes to her success, not just on the court but in life.

I'd be happy to bore you with examples, but Black would no doubt take out her electronic red pencil and delete it from this post. And right about now, I know she's thinking, "Is there a point to this post?" Well, it's this … leadership skills are all around us, including in our children. We love our kids so much that it's easy to get wrapped up in their tangible accomplishments. Or, sometimes we neglect to see that not all accomplishments are obvious. As one parent to another, I'm hoping that if you don't already see your kids as the leaders they may already be, that you think of them as the leaders they may have the ability to become.


Black has said, on more than one occasion, that having morning TV shows playing in the background while I work reduces my level of concentration. Although that may, or may not, be true (as a mom I just consider it yet another source of "white noise"), I still keep doing it. And I have to say that this week, I was so glad that I did, otherwise I'd never have realized that my sister, Black, and Dr. Fauci are both Vulcans.

Yes, I know that Vulcans aren't real (watching Star Trek with my dad is one of my fonder childhood memories, although I was never a "Trekkie"), but sometime in the last decade I was at the movies enjoying my popcorn while one of the recent Star Trek movies was playing … and I had a revelation. I realized that my sister, with her non-emotional and highly pragmatic way of looking at everything (and I mean everything – including relationships, if you can believe that) was Vulcan-like. Which explained so much, including why I always have to explain the "mere mortal" perspective to her. For her, emotions get in the way and prevent looking at things logically.

Fast forward to this week and the incredibly tragic news of the U.S. reaching 500,000 coronavirus deaths. Dr. Fauci was being interviewed by CBS This Morning, and I'll admit that I wasn't really paying any attention until I heard the doctor being asked,

Is there ever a moment when you have time to get emotional about this?

At that point, Dr. Fauci had my full and undivided attention. And I just had to laugh, and think of Black, when he replied, without hesitation,

No, I don't. And that's the point.

And then he proceeded to explain that it's not that he's a very cold person, but that you can't let emotions drive what you do. He emphasized the need to be empathic, but that you need to stay focused on the task at hand. By then, although the words were coming from Dr. Fauci, the sentiments might just as well have been from my sister.

And just as I've learned never to question my sister's unemotional, highly analytical approach to everything, I had to smile at the thought that now Black's not the only Vulcan that I "know". And respect.

For Red & Black Banter in your inbox ...
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

For Black, Valentine's Day is a reminder, a mindset, and a year-round approach to life. Based on death. Confused? Red was. Until Black explained her "logic", which gave Red a warm and fuzzy feeling as she saw how it could help her become her year-round best – not only for herself, but for others in her life.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston

Let me set the scene (keep in mind I was a theater major). The Houston area, where fur coats appear on the "ladies who lunch" when the weather dips below 50, has been hit by an unprecedented winter storm that not only brings snow and prolonged sub-freezing temperatures, but also creates statewide power outages for millions. My extremely pragmatic sister lives in a high-rise that lost power early in the storm and, thinking quickly, secures a hotel room in Houston's only five-star hotel, which just happens to be down the street from her place. Less than 24 hours later, I too lose power, but living in a house that has a fireplace, well-stocked pantry, and a gas cooktop, just hunker down. My car's parked on the driveway so I can easily access it to charge my gizmos, which also gives me the opportunity (or really, excuse) to warm up.

And it's there, while texting with Black (who, for the record, rarely texts but at that point in time it was the only form of communication that worked), that the following conversation ensues …

Keep Reading ... Show less