Kids grow up way too fast. One minute you’re changing poopy diapers and swaddling them, and the next they are a real live human. When I first became a parent I had no idea what the hell I was doing, just like everyone. I still don’t like holding other people’s kids, but I was ‘all in’ the moment I saw mine. My daughter is now 11 and is my sportswatching buddy – my only one in my family. As a babe she liked to be held like a football, and wanted to be snuggled all the time. Now she’ll snuggle up against me and watch the game. As I was struggling as my Packers got their ass handed to them in the Division championship, she was pragmatic in her assessment in that they had a great year and we shouldn’t feel to bad about how it ended. She’s got a lot of wisdom for how young she is.
If you too watched the NFL the past few weeks, you couldn’t have missed the message of being a good father in a number of commercials. My dad was mostly content with providing for us, and spending time with us on vacations. We’d look over his shoulder while he did his shop projects, taught us to change the oil in the cars, and was ever present at our sports events. But he wasn’t engaged on a regular basis and subsequently our relationship wasn’t as strong as it could have been. I’m trying my best not to repeat those same mistakes, though I’m sure I have similar weak points.
Kids shadow their parents when given the opportunity, and would engage in the smallest of menial tasks if promoted. Things like cooking dinner, yardwork, vacuuming, and watching Lulz cat videos next to you can all be parenting opportunities. As a family we regularly eat dinner together (with much joking), hang out in our bed as we wind down for the night, and promote kid involvement. But we’re far from perfect. I can be curmudgeonly, and have to be the Heavy when it comes to bedtime and removing said child from my room. My connection with my son (9) has always been more tenuous than my daughter who I’m on the same wavelength with (and likewise, my wife is more connected to my son). Hence, Birdsnest is my football watching buddy while Loudboy has not much interest in sports (despite our best attempts – everything from tai kwan do to basketball has been a complete fart in church, though soccer has stuck). So it goes.
We are all doing our best as parents given our own values, upbringing, time, obligations, and need to cut out our own time. Gone are the days when they are fully reliant on us, and they can basically take care of themselves from morning to the bedtime if it came down to it. It’s a double-edged sword. I was reading the new Tim Ferriss book Tools of Titans (which has a number of good nuggets), and one of his data-hound interviewees mentioned that he realized that at 20 years old he had already spent 93% of his lifetime one-on-one time with his parents at 18 years old, and the rest of his life (at 30 or however old he was) was milking that last 5% out. Thus it makes our time with hour young-people so precious, yet we probably don’t realize it often enough. Le sigh….
When I look back on this brief moment when they are small and innocent, I won’t have many regrets. Though my words sometimes may come off more gruff than I intended, and perhaps I could stop and smell the roses more, and get my head out of whatever thing it may be buried in (from book, to project, to device), I know they are being raised ok. That is, with lots of love, opportunity to fail, a chance to develop their own personality, and someone to push them once in awhile towards some hard work. Hopefully they become good adults, because isn’t that what parenting really is about? So for the majority of their life, as grownups, they’re happy, self-sufficient, and have the ability to succeed in life? I look a little bit ahead down that brief road that is life, and see those days aren’t that far away. It seems like only yesterday I was doing ‘The Heisman’ with them as infants. Now Birdsnest is wearing the same size show as my wife.
How the years fly my friends. Please appreciate them and live in the moment with whatever that may require.
Always the best to you and yours.