Tag Archives: Dad

Who is Worthy of Your Love?

(Image/loveisrespect.tumblr.com)

(Image/loveisrespect.tumblr.com)

monthemoon asked (read the full comment here): “Hi Matt! I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, just before my partner and I split up. We are still living together due to circumstances, but from summer we will be living separately, and I am kind of looking forward to it. But I am also afraid.

“Apart from developing his empathy, can you think of any other way to make him realize he has to put his son first, specially after separation?”

I might be a bad father.

I don’t know. I don’t know who gets to decide. I don’t think his mom would call me one. I don’t think anyone close to me would call me one. And I’m certain my son wouldn’t call me one.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

The list documenting my failings as a father is long and distinguished. That might not make me “bad.” That might just make me typical. Who can say?

When we fail our families, sentencing our innocent children to lives without both parents at home, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that we’ve fallen short as parents.

When we force our spouses to choose between keeping the family together and suffering in masked silence for years, or ending the marriage risking judgment from family and friends, and emotionally damaged children because THAT somehow feels like the better choice, we have failed our children.

There’s nothing inherently gender-specific about this, but I have no qualms about calling out men as the primary culprits here. It’s because — no matter how much we’ll deny it — there are many things men love more than their wives and children.

It’s all psychological, of course. Most husbands and fathers are GOOD MEN. And they think and feel “I love my wife,” and they think and feel “I love my family.” But when it comes time to choose between getting down on the floor to play LEGOs or to cook pretend-dinner in the play kitchen or have a dinosaur battle, and whatever else feels EASIER or MORE CONVENIENT, we often choose the latter.

“Sorry, kid. That sounds like so much fun, but dad is really tired after a long day. You just play alone while I do this thing by myself that I’m prioritizing over you. I’ll engage you in bond-forming one-on-one activities some other time, because I’ll probably have a lot more energy then. We have all the time in the world to build life-long parent-child bonds. We have all the time in the world to make you feel loved and safe.”

If what you do matters more than what you say, then I was divorced for about a year before I actually started putting my son first in my life.

From the moment I learned about the positive pregnancy test, I always said — and actually believed — that I was putting my child first.

I’ll do anything for my family, we think. Because we’re dads and husbands, we take that job seriously. But then we choose other things over dad and husband things because it’s easier or seemingly more fun in the moment. Sacrificing the later for the now. Like the kids whose lives turned out worse after choosing immediate gratification in the Stanford marshmallow experiment.

Sure, we feel blindsided when our wives leave us and file papers.

Sure, we feel surprised when our children question our love for them during future disagreements.

Our brains automatically search for any explanation that will take away our responsibility. We’ll concoct any story that makes something the fault of someone else, and not ours.

Maybe that’s all people. Maybe that’s just mehhhhhhhh fathers who think they’re great parents. Or maybe it’s just me.

But today I know better, and apologize for the finger pointing. We’re NEVER the only one doing, thinking, believing, or feeling anything. There are always others in the boat with you. Knowing that helps me feel better sometimes.

You’re Probably Forgetting About the Hourglass

Don’t be afraid. Everyone is in this global boat large enough to hold every living thing from the beginning of time ‘til the end.

But, it’s true. You have an invisible hourglass attached to your life.

Just like that person standing over there.

Just like your friends and enemies and family and co-workers and the strangers you pass on the street and the people you scream at when they cut you off in traffic.

Just like your children.

We all have an hourglass that is ALWAYS dropping sand from the top to the bottom, and when that last granule falls, we will take our final breath.

Then, gone.

Our hourglasses live in a dimension beyond sight. So we don’t usually know when the sand is going to run out.

As I’m writing this sentence, someone young and who was thought to be healthy is dying unexpectedly. It’s a statistical certainty.

Living fearfully is no way to live. That’s why it helps to be mindful of the boat. How we’re all in it. This isn’t A way. It’s THE way.

But living mindfully of it? I think that might be important.

Two years ago, I learned about a beautiful little girl named Abby with a disease that has no known cure. I was blogging about some personal things with an ungrateful attitude. And then Life saw fit to introduce me to the story of two parents who lose a little bit of their daughter every day.

I called it a Godsmack. That’s what it felt like.

Maybe no matter how long and hard my day was, playing with my son is the best use of my time because of all the parents whose top wish would be to do what I’m taking for granted.

Maybe if I knew the world was about to explode, all I would want is to hold him tight to try and demonstrate my love one last time.

And maybe the things we should spend the most energy on in life are the things we would do during the final countdown. (No. You’re not the only one who just sang the Europe song.)

This is a Parent’s Most Important Job

With the exception of parents with deeply held spiritual beliefs about salvation and an afterlife whose life mission centers around helping their children achieve it, our earthly life-focused parenting has ONE job beyond meeting basic life needs that seems more important than any other.

The thing we must do for our children is help them KNOW they are worthy of love and belonging.

That’s it.

That’s our most important job.

Most of life’s negative experiences are rooted in us doubting our value or worthiness. Because of a million little things that happen to us as children at home and school, and all we observe as others around us succeed, achieve and acquire things we want but don’t have, and all of the rejection and failure we experience in our relationships, and social circles, and academic pursuits, and work lives.

We don’t celebrate failure as the interesting and valuable mistake it really is — another opportunity to grow and change and improve on our pursuit of mastery. We’re terrified of it and what it will make others believe about us. We fall short all the time. And then we assume everyone thinks we’re huge stupid losers because of failures, big or small. And then we tell ourselves stories about those failures and our self-narrative becomes one of failure, and self-doubt.

We’re not good enough to be happy.

We’re not good enough to be accepted.

We’re not good enough to be loved.

Sorry, kid. You’re just not tall enough. And you never will be.

That narrative is believed by a frightening amount of people. The majority, I believe.

Poverty. Crime. Abuse. Infidelity. Addiction. Suicide. Divorce.

These things often happen because someone doesn’t believe they matter. Because they don’t think they are worthy of love. Because they don’t think they belong on any of the boats.

But we are worthy. And we do belong. And that realization eludes many of us for many different reasons.

As parents, we mustn’t let that reason be because we failed our children in a moment that seemed inconsequential to us while not realizing it means the world to them.

She asked: “Can you think of any other way to make him realize he has to put his son first, ‘specially after separation?”

It took me losing my family.

My wife.

And half of my son’s childhood. I estimate AT LEAST seven years, since he was not quite 5 when the marriage ended.

Whatever must happen to ensure he and I stay connected once he leaves the nest? That window is closing fast.

Once this father realizes it, he’ll either care enough to do something about it, or he won’t.

Or maybe he simply doesn’t feel worthy of his son’s love. Maybe he doesn’t feel he deserves that.

Because like so many of us stopped by the Must Be This Tall To Ride gatekeepers, he simply never got the memo: That sign is bullshit.

He’s always been tall enough.

And now his life’s most important work is about teaching his son that too.

Just like you.

Just like me.

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Male Commenters Are From Mars, Female Commenters Are From Venus 

Mars and Venus

(Image/National Geographic)

I can see both sides now in a way I never could before.

I wish I could explain how, because that might be helpful information. I don’t think it’s more complicated than me wanting to figure out why my marriage fell apart and how, even though I knew things between my wife and I weren’t perfect, I ignorantly floated through life unaware of just how upset she really was.

It’s not like she didn’t tell me. She told me. Using English and everything.

But then one day at dinner she said, “I don’t know if I still love you, and I don’t know if I want to be married to you anymore.”

I’m pretty smart, but I still can’t figure out how I could have so poorly misjudged my wife’s feelings and the viability of our relationship.

Let’s recap for anyone just joining the party:

My wife and I were two pretty nice, pretty friendly, pretty smart, pretty fun people, who, several times openly talked about how important it was for us to make sure we did what was necessary to stay married and love one another forever. Staying married, philosophically, was a major priority for both of us.

We had a son together. A beautiful one.

We had great friends, good times, were physically compatible, and I can’t speak for her, but seemed sufficiently physically attracted to one another.

We both graduated from college, were competent professionals with upward career and financial mobility, lived in a nice, safe, clean home, and despite not being wealthy in 1% terms or even in upper-middle-class terms, we made well over twice the median household income in our seemingly average but pleasant suburban town.

We were a typical married couple. No major divorce red flags or obvious dysfunction to speak of.

Two typical people who met as college freshmen, started dating four years later, got engaged two years after that, were married the following summer, and had a baby as 29-year-olds.

It’s hard for me to know what “typical” looks like. Maybe everyone thinks their experience is typical because they don’t know any different.

But it seems to me, trying to see it through the most objective lenses I own, that my marriage was—at least in terms of my generation—a very average, very typical marriage.

That’s why this is such a scary thing.

This divorce epidemic affects not just the “obvious” couples comprised of people with poor educations, abusive upbringings, criminal histories or violent tendencies, but EVERYONE. The marriages we might expect to make it seem to fail at the same rate as any others.

I’m a pretty nice guy and decent human being. My ex-wife would corroborate that.

I’m reasonably intelligent. I WANTED to stay married. And I really did love my wife.

And she didn’t keep her frustrations a secret. She looked me in the eye, and she spoke words to me I could comprehend linguistically, but apparently not their meaning. I can’t honestly say whether I didn’t understand her, or whether I didn’t believe her.

I did what most husbands do. Tune out, or dismiss things our wives say, perhaps because we’re angry with them for complaining about us, and we decide to care more about how angry we are than whatever they’re saying.

Maybe it’s as simple as us caring about our feelings much more than we do about our wives’ feelings. I don’t think I know why this happens. But I think I know that it DOES happen.

I think I know that it happens over and over again, and as it’s happening, husbands, and maybe their sad and angry wives too, don’t realize that each of these little moments are the things that will end their marriage.

I think if everyone was aware of this, we’d all speak and behave much differently and divorce infinitely less often.

It Looks Kind of Like This 

Even though I avoid reading comments on things I write for other publications, I read through a thread underneath the HuffPost version of “She Feels Like Your Mom and Doesn’t Want to Bang You which has been making the rounds on the internet this past week.

The premise of the post is that women, especially mothers, in 2016 have incredibly demanding lives, and when men obliviously add to those demands instead of alleviate some of them, their romantic partners frequently lose sexual interest because it feels more like a parent-child relationship instead of the partnership she craves.

Predictably, many women say: “Yep! This is so true!” And many men say: “It goes both ways!!! Wives need to respect OUR feelings too! Withholding sex as a weapon is every bit as bad as a husband not knowing how to help around the house!”

After a few wives responded to the post saying it accurately summed up their experiences, some men jumped in and effectively simulated a common marriage or dating disagreement. Here are the highlights:

Wife #1 – I love my husband and we are celebrating 15 years of marriage next week. But I am thankful for this article (and the previous one!). It isnt about housework. It is about sometimes NOT looking at your wife and saying “what do you want me to do?” It is about seeing _______ needs to be done and doing it. It is about looking at the damn master calendar ON THE PANTRY DOOR and noticing that everything in the family’s life is there and still saying “I didn’t know what the plans were” and instead saying “how about I take junior to soccer?” No one is perfect and marriage is hard. But the last thing a woman wants to do after taking care of everything all day long and finally getting a break at 9pm is to have sex with you. She wants to be left alone and not have to make any decisions, take care of anyone or even, sometimes, have to talk to anyone. So thank you for writing about this topic.

Wife #2 – Thank you!

Wife #3 – A-freakin’-men!

Wife #4 –But the last thing a woman wants to do after taking care of everything all day long and finally getting a break at 9pm is to have sex with you.”
Yet men are still so surprised and offended when we’re not in the mood.

Guy #1 – Door swings both ways, ladies. With all respect, the housework, kids, etc… should be shared chores. If your guy is not helping out, he’s lazy and sucks, but you need to tell him that, not use sex as a weapon or hold it hostage. Sex should be totally separate from the daily goings on. This is a major failure point for a lot of couples. Once the sex is gone, the relationship withers. Don’t throw the relationship away because you don’t think your guy is helping out enough…just TELL HIM. Guys are cavemen, we need to be told sometimes. Don’t take away the sex. It’s the glue in the relationship. It’s like taking food away from the dog for peeing on the carpet. Don’t starve the dog, teach it how to pee in the yard. Two separate things. Sort ’em out properly.

Wife #5 – It’s not a punishment. They are two separate things. That’s what you’re not getting. As a separate thing, sex is another thing on the list of stuff to do. Sex is a lot of work for a woman. She has to shave a bunch of things, maybe put on something nice, make sure she has protection in place, and even if she’s not in the mood, she knows if she doesn’t put out her guy will act increasingly sullen and resentful. That sort of thing turns sex into another chore, another thing on the to-do list. If it happened only when she wanted it to and she didn’t face repercussions for failing to perform, it would be different.

Consider also the many other leisure activities she doesn’t have time for, none of which are ever “allowed” to rank higher than sex. Sex isn’t making time for herself, but making time for someone else.

The worst part is that she probably already feels guilty because society has conditioned that response, so anything from the other party that would increase the guilt is piling on.

Guy #2 – That is PRECISELY why I am (and will stay) single. If you think sex is only for the guy, your relationship failed before launch. My marriage failed (18 YEARS together) and we were in complete role reversal…you just took the ‘revelation’ of this article and ‘weaponized’ it…exactly what my wife did. You blame shift, everyone loses. Let me clarify that for you…sex is for you BOTH. If you want to see it as a chore, you are now nothing more than an overpaid whore (yes, I went there. I once figured out what my marriage and divorce cost me vs the amount of time I approximately had sex…I could have visited a Vegas brothel 3x a week and STILL had had a fully funded retirement). THIS is precisely why relationships fail…blame shift.

Wife #1 – What is not surprising is that it is, again, our fault for not asking for help. The theme I see over and over is that men feel they have little to no responsibility in the problem because women “don’t ask for what we need” and also feel like women use sex as a punishment against them. As though women are that petty.

But therein lies the problem.

This article isn’t really about chores. Or sex. It is about the fact that women want a partnership in life. They want a partner in the care-giving aspect of daily life. Because they don’t always have one, they truly feel as though they have another child to take care of and not a husband and life partner.

We’re not withholding sex as a tool. We are honestly tired and don’t want to take care of one more person, even if that means not having sex with you. We don’t want to make a decision right now. We want to have 1 hour of quiet time, of not having to take care of everyone or make every single decision.

The point is if men did chip in more, we wouldn’t NEED this hour of solitude so often and we would be more open to having sex on a regular basis.

Guy #1 – It’s too bad that some women feel sex is just another chore instead one one of the most important connection points in a relationship.

With that mindset, I would hope those women are ok with their partners finding someone else to handle the “chores” that they don’t want to have to do. Are any of you ladies ok with your man having an outside affair if need be? If you were to say yes, I would see that as open minded and rational. If no, where is the “give” or compromise?

Wife #1 – You are SO RIGHT! We should expect our husbands to have affairs and be totally OK lest WE be accused of not compromising.

And that folks is why the divorce rate is near 50%.

I am so glad that the author of this article, at least, has recognized what the problem is in many marriages. Too bad his attempt to share that knowledge has fallen on deaf ears.

Guy #1 – I think the message has been delivered to listening ears, but double standards don’t work for anyone. Take care of your mate or someone else will. Goes both ways.

Some women aren’t getting their needs met with the housework and some men aren’t getting their needs met in the bedroom. Ask any guy to chip in more on the housework so that there is more time left for bedroom activities and 99.9% of the guys will jump at the opportunity.

It would be interesting to see the complaint from another angle if the men withheld something that the women needed on a regular basis… money, time, food, shelter, security?

Wife #6 – (Addressing Guys #1 & 2) It’s not about holding sex hostage or using it as a weapon, it’s about not being in the mood or in a state to engage with the other person on that level.

Sex is absolutely about both people, but when one of them is tired or stressed and not in the mood, it’s an issue. And if that stems from an unbalanced workload, that issue needs to be addressed outside of sex so that things can be brought into balance, which will usually return the sex life to a balanced and wonderful thing.

When a guy isn’t in the mood there is usually something at about hip level that indicates lack of interest to all parties involved. It’s a physical sign that things aren’t happening. Women don’t have that visible signal but we do have physical reactions that you may or may not be aware of. When we’re exhausted or stressed in ways that keep us from feeling amorous there are issues with lubrication and muscle tightness. Sex in this state runs the range from uncomfortable to outright painful. Painful sex of this kind is not a pleasant experience and is indeed a chore when it shouldn’t be.

When a person, man or woman, is relaxed and happy and satisfied in other areas of their life they usually are in the sexual arena as well. When they aren’t… sex suffers.

Guy #1 – That, I get. Thanks for the well-articulated explanation.

I think we’re intermingling a few different but related topics here. Nice to hear the female perspective but also troubling as all of this is supposed to be fun, relaxing and relationship building instead of a chore or pain in the ______ (pick your body part.)

Thanks for the banter. I literally have a day’s worth of chores, laundry, housework, care-giving and car maintenance to do. Over and out!

Wife #7 – (Responding to earlier Guy comments) If a man is demanding, demeaning, does not show any appreciation for his wife, expects to be waited on like a child, and **becomes sullen or angry when denied sex**. SEX BECOMES A CHORE for the woman. It becomes a necessary thing to check off the list to keep peace in the house. Because, if a woman is married to a man that behaves in this way it is difficult to feel any attraction toward him. But the show must go on or there will be an even worse tempered spoiled belligerent brute to deal with.

No woman wants to be married to a 6 year old.

Guys, it doesn’t matter what you believe is right and wrong. It doesn’t matter how fair or unfair you think it is. It doesn’t matter how much you disagree with her. If you are interested in staying married, you MUST understand this, and then do what you must to not be a man-child.

Your exhausted wife doesn’t randomly pop lady-boners while she’s folding your underwear like you might experience in reverse. She doesn’t fantasize about you making it all better with your penis. She fantasizes about a life, or even just a few hours once in a while, where she doesn’t have to be in charge of making sure your lives don’t spiral into chaos if she doesn’t manage it all.

She doesn’t want you because of some sexy comment or physical move you make. She wants you because you respect her and demonstrate it.

She doesn’t feel safe because you’re a tough guy or know how to use a gun. She feels safe because she can count on you to keep the bills paid on time, and the house in order and the kids’ schedules intact if some life event prevents her from doing so.

She doesn’t feel loved because you say “I love you.” She doesn’t even feel loved because you ACTUALLY love her.

She feels loved when you show her.

And most of us guys don’t know what that looks like. But creating opportunities for your wife to have time for herself to not worry about anything by thoughtfully and effectively completing chores which prevent her from doing so, is a really good place to start.

Give that gift to your wife and children’s mother every day, and things will never be the same.

In a very good way.

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Advertising and Kids

seen on tv

I know how to stimulate the economy.

Not create job growth, necessarily. This plan would almost certainly not address the United States’ breathtaking national deficit.

And it probably won’t increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product because I’m pretty sure most of the money would be spent on products manufactured in foreign countries.

But here it is: Give a stimulus check—say, $1,500—to every kindergartner in the country and let them spend it however they want.

I didn’t say it was brilliant. I just said it would stimulate the economy.

Would you believe my only economics class was my junior year of high school and that I was smoking a lot of pot during that period of my life?

Highly implausible, I know.

As Seen on TV

My five-year-old son is officially the most-impressionable person I have ever met.

Because I don’t like television commercials, I tend to record things I want to watch on my DVR and view the programs delayed so I can fast-forward them.

It has gotten so bad with my son, that he chastises me when I fast-forward commercials during children’s programming, which is always some really colorful ad showing a bunch of kids having an amazing time with some toy or bad-for-your-health snack food.

He loves commercials. And he believes every single thing he sees in them.

Last night, he saw a commercial for Snackeez! They are colorful dual-compartment cups which the TV advertisement claims will reduce messes in vehicles and living rooms.

The advertisement wasn’t on screen for 10 seconds when…

“Hey dad! Can I get some Snackeez!?”

“You seriously want one of those?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re cool.”

“You think Snackeez! look cool?”

“Yes.”

“Dude. There’s no way I’m ordering those.”

“Awwww!”

There’s no way that’s true. The eliminate-messes part. I could attach a vacuum hose to my son’s chin, and I guarantee he could still get crumbs and pieces of food on any floor space within a four-foot radius. He almost never spills drinks. But he almost ALWAYS gets crumbs and shit everywhere. It’s uncanny.

The commercial shows a bunch of kids just spilling stuff everywhere. On light carpet, of course. Just four idiot kids spilling all of their stuff while playing video games or watching TV on the living room floor with grape juice and chocolate milk and other dark liquids I’m certain every responsible parent would put in the hands of kids in such a spot. *shakes head*

Snackeez! cups will save the day. Don’t worry. Order now, and you can have a second $9.95 cup (plus shipping and handling) absolutely free! Act fast before your kids spill stuff all over the floor!

It dawned on me just how serious the problem was this morning while getting him ready for school.

“Hey dad! Can we get an I spy bird feeder?”

“What’s an I spy bird feeder?”

(He meant the My Spy Birdhouse, it turns out. I was previously unaware of this thing.)

“You stick it to the window outside, then you watch the birds from inside your house.”

“Do you want to get every single thing you see on TV?”

“Yes.”

“As a general rule, it’s a bad idea to order things you see on TV. Most of that stuff isn’t very nice, kiddo. Do you get a second bird feeder for free if you order in the next 10 minutes?”

“No! You get it in a package at the end of the day!”

“Nevermind. We’ll talk about this later.”

Get Rich Quick

Some people do get rich quick. They win the lottery. They start a business that takes off. They accept Facebook shares of stock instead of $60,000, and seven years later are worth $500 million.

Everyone wants to get rich without putting in the time.

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to believe strongly in the get-rich-slowly method. That way is GUARANTEED to succeed. We’re all going to be older someday. And we’re all going to have regrets about things we did and did not do. I hope I’m disciplined enough to at least ponder those regrets with a large bank account because I slowly and systematically put money away for Future Old Matt.

One night in college, I was sitting alone in my apartment really late, high from smoking a bowl. (That’s marijuana for all you responsible types.)

It must have been 2001 or 2002. I saw an ad for the get-rich-quick scheme: The Internet Treasure Chest. They promised to refund your money if you weren’t satisfied and rich within 60 days.

I can’t lose!

I ordered it for $100 (which was a lot of money for me when I was in college.)

A few days later, it showed up. I left all the boxes of crap just laying by my computer and never did anything with it.

And that’s the entire story.

I gave the Internet Treasure Chest people $100.

*shakes head*

My Son in the Future

Is this something that’s universal to all kids?

And are these impressionable tendencies I’m seeing now something I’ll have to worry about as the years advance?

I don’t want to wake up in 10 years to find my son on the cover of USA Today because he tried to rob something:

btf usa today “Why would you do that?!”

“Austin called me a chicken!”

“Oh. Right. Do you have any idea how much it’s going to cost to get you out of this?”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.”

“How’s that?”

“I ordered the Internet Treasure Chest 2.0 last night! It’s guaranteed to make you rich in 60 days or they give you your money back!”

“… ”

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How to Feel Proud of Your Child

Learning-is-Fun

I’m hard on my son sometimes.

To the point where I make him angry. Because I want him to be the best person he can be even if that means he has to be upset with me for correcting him.

It’s like a dangerous high-stakes game. Risking his affection in exchange for his good behavior and character development.

I made him cry last night after scolding him for making a mess because he wasn’t following directions.

“You’re never nice to me,” he said.

We talked about that for about 15 minutes. I think he actually understood when I explained how I’m his father first, and his friend, second. And that my job is to help him learn lessons and be the best person he can be. That I must hold him accountable when he doesn’t follow rules.

He’s a good boy.

And I’m often very nice to him. And he knows it, too.

They Grow Fast

Too fast, most parents will tell you.

His loose tooth finally came out Sunday. So the tooth fairy visited for the first time overnight.

He was as surprised as some of my disapproving co-workers to discover $5 under his pillow.

I was brushing my teeth as he counted the single bills on the floor outside the bathroom.

“Dad, I can’t believe I got five dollars for one little tooth!” he said.

“What would you like to do with your money?” I said.

He thought for just a minute.

“I want to put it in my piggy bank,” he said.

“You do? What do you want to save your money for?”

“I want to save it so you can buy me presents for Christmas and my birthday,” he said.

I smiled.

“Buddy, you are so thoughtful. But that’s your money. Mom and dad will use our money to buy you Christmas and birthday presents. This money is for you,” I said.

“Okay. I still want to save it,” he said.

Good boy.

Little boys like to pull their pants down to their ankles when they first learn to potty standing up. It’s not a big deal at home. But it’s not the kind of thing you want them doing in public restrooms or at school.

This morning, he went potty while I was still finishing getting ready for the day. He did so without pulling his pants all the way down.

“Look dad! This is how I potty now!”

“You’re getting so big, buddy. I’m very proud of you,” I said.

Big boy.

We were running ahead of schedule this morning. So we took a few minutes to work on some at-home learning activities for school. He knew what the Mayflower was, the ship our early settlers used to come to America. Well, at least the version of the story they tell American children. I was just impressed he’d heard of the ship and could rattle off some history about it.

He told me all of the months in the calendar year, in the correct order. It was the first time I’d heard him do that.

Smart boy.

He stuck a large yellow smiley face sticker to my shirt this morning.
“So you remember to feel happy,” he said. “Every time you see it, I want you to feel happy.”

I haven’t taken it off.

Sweet boy.

He does this thing where he always wants to race me. Because it’s winter and he hasn’t learned to be careful yet, he slipped on a sheet of ice while sprinting toward the day care family’s house this morning. He fell pretty hard. Cried a little.

“Hey. You’re okay, bud. You’re tough,” I said.

He continued whimpering.

“You remember what we’re going to do after I pick you up after work?” I said.

“Get Christmas lights and marshmallows for hot chocolate,” he said.

And cracked my favorite smile.

“That’s right. Christmas lights and marshmallows. Now you go have a good day at school. I’m so proud of you.”

And off he ran to tackle his day.

Brave boy.

This morning my son displayed innocence. Delighted by the wonder of the Tooth Fairy’s overnight visit.

He displayed kindness and generosity. Wanting to contribute to the family Christmas fund.

He displayed wisdom by choosing to save his money rather than spend it.

He displayed maturity. Going potty in a more-thoughtful, more-grownup way. By demonstrating new things he’s learned at school and home.

He displayed resiliency. Falling. Being hurt. And getting up and shaking off the pain.

Finding his smile as he looked forward to the good times that lie ahead.

That’s my little man. My beautiful child.

Growing, growing, growing.

Thank you for being you, son. Every choice led me to you.

No regrets.

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