This past week I explained one of my design patterns to someone at work. Then I explained it again. And then one more time.
Later that day, the girls left their lunch dishes on the table and the front door open. I may not have shown the same level of restraint. That made me pause. Why was I giving a mostly anonymous work colleague more patience and understanding than my own family? Had I used it all up earlier in the day? Was it because work is more public? Or that I get paid?
Those all seem like terrible excuses. It’s sometimes easy to forget that these kids are tiny people and should get the same patience and understanding as everyone else in my life. Actually, they should get more. They deserve more.
I’ve come to accept that selective ignorance is key to parenting survival. Not all the time. That might get dangerous but it is next to impossible to enjoy any of this if you are freaking out about every tiny decision or tiny probability of something happening. You wouldn’t last a week. You’d be a wreck.
There are some things it’s better not to think about. There are some times when we just need to accept that we’re winging it. There are some problems we’ll just have to solve when we get to them.
It’s National Library Week and I’m going to admit one of my biggest fears: despite trying to lead by example, despite having books piled up around the house, despite literally writing books myself, my kids won’t be lifelong readers. They won’t love books.
When we visited Paris, searching out a famous bookstore was on the agenda. I love books.
I believe reading is the greatest shortcut to self-improvement. Yet most people I know struggle to find the time to do it. And if we struggle to do it for ourselves, we struggle even more to get our kids to do it.
Other than not letting them root for any NY team, getting them to appreciate, enjoy, and want to read, is one of my top priorities as a Dad.
I say ‘no’ constantly to their requests when we are out doing errands but I never say no to a book. I try to think of books as investments. You put down a few dollars, commit several hours, and you get something back. That might be a few hours of escape, feeling less alone, learning a new skill, or solving a problem.
Give them someone to look up to and a book they can come back to.
Another Saturday, another morning run. From the outside looking in, especially in the winter months, this might look insane. Why do I get up early and run in the cold and wind? Because it’s my outlet. Because it makes me a better Dad.
Everyone needs an outlet for the stress of daily life. Parents probably need more than one. Running and exercising is how I try to arm myself against the frustration, stress, exhaustion, and other muck that sticks to you throughout the day.
Now, more than ever, that toxic ooze from just existing in the modern world needs to be disposed of properly.
I can tell on days where I don’t exercise that I’m shorter with the girls, or have less patience, or I’m less present. It doesn’t matter what it is, running, walking the dog, painting, hopscotch, or kickboxing, you have to find something.
Don’t take it out on your kids. As parents, we are responsible for our own sludge.
Just a quick note and some photos as I try to stuff as many pastries in my mouth as possible before I get on the plane. Though the plane isn’t all bad. Air France gives you free wine.
After a two year delay, it was a quick but wonderful trip to Paris aided by an almost unbelievable stretch of perfect spring weather. Parisians know how to just hang out.
One thing about traveling as a family is that you notice being a parent transcends borders and language. You might not be able to speak the same language as the family at the next table but you certainly recognize the same ups and downs.
When I was growing up, I loved basketball, soccer, Wiffle ball, reading, and computer games. My girls like… none of that. Which is fine. A Dad’s job is to work with them to find their lane, not force them to relive your own childhood. It might take several tries, it will definitely take some patience, and it might take some experimentation. Our ideas might be proven right… (they are slowly coming around on reading and flash cards) or proven wrong (despite their height, they will not be playing basketball). That doesn’t matter.
There’s an infinite number of lanes possible for every child in this world. We might have found one for Ally on Saturday.
The world is crazy and appears to be getting crazier. My only antidote is to just keep doing what I know how to do. I raise my kids, I run, I write, I talk to my friends, and I try to keep shining on in my little corner.
There are always lots of people thrashing around and despairing, “Oh God, what do we do?!?”
There are also always people adamantly shouting, “I know exactly what we should do!”
And then there are people busy at work, whispering, “This is what I know how to do.”