April 11, 2010

I Want To Be Just Like You Dad

I was blindsided by the innocence and charm of a boy. A smaller version of myself who is so very much like me and yet so very much his own person turned my world upside down. Come this December it will be ten years since that kid arrived and my education began.

He doesn't understand how much I love him. He doesn't know how his entrance into my life enriched and complicated it beyond belief. He doesn't know how it taught me to appreciate my father in a way that I never could before. He doesn't know how many hours I have spent thinking about him and his sister. The moments in which I have agonized over decisions because I was concerned about how they might impact them.

Simple decisions that never required more than a moment of thought have become more complicated than ever before. I say it without regret, but not without admitting that I occasionally wonder about them.

Some weeks ago I listened to some new parents say that having children has had little impact upon their lives and wondered what planet they live on. I can't help but wonder what kind of parents they are. I ask myself how can this be, how can you say that nothing has changed. It seems next to impossible to me to say such a thing.

Perhaps they didn't mean for it to come out as it did or I misinterpreted it in some way, I don't know. I just know that I was dumbfounded by it.

I sit here in front of the computer and think about how early this morning my son told me he wants to be just like me and I am filled with fear and pride. Of course I love hearing that, but I want him to be better than that. I don't want him to take on any of my bad habits or poor traits. I don't want him to do some of the really stupid things I did.

I cringe when I think about the endless list of boneheaded moves. The times we jumped off of the roof or climbed out of the second story windows. The moments where we drove with reckless abandon or the fist fights we had both inside school and out.

We have some great stories and there is no doubt that the majority of kids grow into adulthood without suffering from some catastrophic event or injury, but they do happen. The stories don't exist solely to scare kids. The exist because it happened to someone. I know parents who have lost children. I know parents who had kids who fell out of trees and found themselves confined to wheelchairs.

So I worry and wonder how to best help my kids live their lives. Sometimes I watch them sleep and remember how it used to be to go to bed careless and free. I still manage to find those moments but they tend to be few and far between.

I don't want these children of mine to live in a bubble. I want them to experience life. They need to see the ups and downs. They need to shine in the success of their efforts and to feel the pain of defeat. Without those experiences they can't really appreciate all that life has to offer.

But sometimes I wonder...


Kristen @ Motherese said...

I like to tell myself that the very act of wondering is a step toward ensuring a fulfilling childhood for our kids.

I recently read a wonderful book called The Philosophical Baby; in it, the author suggests that working to help our kids have a happy childhood is the single most important thing we can do to help them have a happy adulthood. From reading your blog these past few weeks, it sounds like you are doing your best to do just that.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Kids can't be raised in a bubble but they do need to learn what is safe and what is too risky. I imagine it gets tougher to call as they get older.

The Absence of Alternatives said...

Ever since I have kids, I start worrying about alien invasions. No, I am not making this up or mocking you. I DO! End of world movies make me anxious because I don't know how I am going to protect them. And of course, this is just on top of every other things. We will never stop worrying about our kids. It's a curse that comes with the blessings.

Jack said...

I recently read a wonderful book called The Philosophical Baby; in it, the author suggests that working to help our kids have a happy childhood is the single most important thing we can do to help them have a happy adulthood.

That fits in with my philosophy. I want to give my kids the best childhood they can get. I want it to feel magical for as long as possible.

All that being said I want them to understand the realities of life and to be able to deal with them as best as possible.

Hi James,

I am certainly no expert, but the conversations with my kids are getting more sophisticated. We have talked about war, murder, theft and other very serious topics. It is not always easy, but necessary.


I understand. It is hard not to be concerned about the kids. I have worried about all sorts of things. But the benefits far outweigh the negatives.