I am not a human Google. I don’t have a wake up word like Alexa. Yes, I know things. Yes, I have answers. But I am also busy. Yet the girls still have questions. So many questions and requests throughout a typical day. And I don’t want to blunt those questions or their curiosity, but I do want to teach them how to figure things out and not just repeat the question in increasing decibels at me or at a device.
So this week, I did pause and teach Cecilia the proper pronunciation of her vocab word victuals (it’s ‘vittels‘) with an actual dictionary (that took the longest to find in the house) and then we traced it back through Middle English, French, and Latin (vital).
Did it take longer than just telling her? Yes, but just telling them doesn’t help. You have to show them.
A confession: despite my best efforts, our kids really aren’t into Harry Potter and I’m trying not to freak out too much. I’m trying not to rush it. This is a similar strategy I use to pass on my love of running and vacuuming.
Maybe tonight is just not the night. I’m trying to raise readers and that is a process that is never completed. You’re never finished being a reader. It’s like farming or gardening. There is a constant need for cultivation and the to-do list is never finished.
And like gardening, there is a time and a season for patience. It might be in six months or six years but I think that connection will eventually come. A reader recognizes a good story in their own time.
On to a gray and rainy Saturday, the perfect day really to curl up with a long book like Harry Potter. Hmmm… maybe if there was a musical? Or more dance scenes? No, no, I can wait…
First, a quick thanks to everyone that bought the book last week, left a review, or simply left me a note. Many of you asked me if it was successful and I probably gave you a vague answer. By the numbers, it was better than the last one which is certainly going in the right direction. But it also left me thinking about success. Obviously, everyone wants to be successful and I want lots of people to read and enjoy my books. But good or bad, bestseller or not, results are ephemeral.
As I’ve hit forty and beyond, I’ve picked up this curious habit of reading more self-help books. There is a concept in eastern philosophy called the hungry ghost that is both striking and indelible. The hungry ghost has an endless stomach. He’s never satiated. He never feels full. He’s especially dangerous when used to define success. He literally almost killed me in 2015 when I was so focused on completing a half ironman that I ignored serious physical and mental problems that eventually landed me in the hospital.
Now, I define success not on the results but the process. That’s where 99.9% of the time is spent. Whether it’s writing book, parenting, working out, or just hanging out. You need to enjoy the process. That’s something worth doing. Ignore the hungry ghost. So, yes, the book was successful but I knew that long before publication day.
On to the next book, but first a pleasantly cool and overcast Saturday…
I’ve mostly given up on the news. I’ll watch the local broadcast for the weather and the 1-800 Kars for Kids song and then give myself 30 seconds to glance the headlines to make sure the world isn’t ending (degrees of relativity with that one) and that’s it. Anything else and I start to spiral into a foul mood.
But it has raised an interesting question as a Dad: How much should we shelter our kids from the scariness of the world? How much should we protect them from knowing about the day-to-day events of the world that they can’t do anything about? Is it selfish and self-centered to let them be kids just a little longer?
Isn’t that part of the job description as parents? To shoulder the stress they have no business dealing with at this age.
Certainly they know the big picture. They know why we are wearing masks and staying home. We’ve talked about some of the social issues. They aren’t in a complete bubble and I think they know how fortunate and lucky they are.
But they are still kids. They shouldn’t have to carry this equally. That’s on us.
See what happens when you watch too much news….
Not our typical Fourth celebration. We missed the Cape. And the big seafood boil. Didn’t miss the traffic though or Dash losing his mind over the fireworks. We spent the day as a family. And you can be a family wherever you are and whatever you are doing. I hope everyone is safe and was able to spend the holiday with their own family or friends.
After eleven Father’s Days, my one piece of advice to my fellow Dads is to embrace and accept that you are not in control anymore. It’s not that the kids have all the control, it’s more the fact that you now have other lives to care for beyond your own.
It’s both freeing and humbling. You no longer have to decide the priority of things. It’s not a choice. You ARE driving to dance practice. You ARE making the lunches. You ARE watching another episode of Full House (cut. it. out.)
Embrace it and enjoy it. It’s not changing anytime soon. Or ever. I imagine even after they graduate or move out. You are still on call.
As we prepare to make the transition this week from school to summer, we started talking about a specific superpower. There’s definitely been an uptick in sister-on-sister violence in the last few weeks. I think they are feeling the strain of all the togetherness, but unfortunately we still have a long camp-less summer to go. Everyone is spending unprecedented amounts of time with people whom we may love but still have the ability to make us upset.
But wait? Can they actually make us upset? What if we all had a superpower to stop it?
They can try. They can provoke you, intended or not. But whatever the other person did is on them. Whatever your reaction is, that’s on you. No one can make you angry, only you have that power. Someone can certainly say something offensive or stupid or mean, but no one can make you upset. That’s your choice.
For a more peaceful summer, don’t give away your power over yourself. You can’t blame your sister if that happens.