The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Things ’round here ain’t always pretty as a peach or happy as a lark. I’ve never hidden that on the blog. This parenting gig isn’t easy.

Unless you were my parents. They had it easy.

We all know the challenges and the struggles and the frustrations. We all know the messes and the dirt. Just Google “shit my kids ruined” and you’ll find thousands upon thousands of people who understand #TheStruggleIsReal.

But I don’t mind telling you about the times we snap. I don’t mind telling you that our kids know how to push us to the edge of sanity. Like last weekend.

I had the kids in the truck ready to go for a short hike to a waterfall. We were all buckled. That’s when I noticed the oldest had Crocks on his feet instead of shoes. I shut off the truck, run back in and grab his shoes and back out the door. It took me as long to get his shoes as it took you read that sentence. Yet, when I got back to the truck the youngest is crying because the oldest did something to the youngest because the youngest laughed at the oldest and the oldest didn’t want to be laughed at.

What the hell am I doing so wrong that I can’t leave them for 15 seconds without an assault and battery?

Yet, I know they are good kids. I see how they play with our neighbor’s 2 year old. They are gentle. They are kind. They take him to see our parrot but are careful not to let him too close (she bites). They jump on the trampoline with him until he’s laughing so hard he can’t stand up.

I know they are good kids. I witness their behaviour when we are out to eat. They treat the server with respect. They always use their pleases and thank yous. They ask for their meal of choice with their inside voices so nicely.

I know they are good kids. Their teachers rave about them. They tell us they are sweet and caring. They earn “best bucket filler” awards (that’s the award for doing nice things for others). They earn good grades. They have friends.

I know they are good kids. I look for the good in them. I believe in the good in them. However, sometimes I feel like Obi Wan believing in the good of a little boy named Anakin. We all know how that turned out. Even if he was good in the end, there was so much destruction to get to the end. The (only) difference between Obi and I though is that I don’t know how my boys will turn out. I can only continue the struggle, lead by example, and do what we parents do – keep up the good fight.

So I closed the truck door, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and promised I wouldn’t kill the kids. Then we went for a hike and that almost made it all better. The youngest was cranky with me because I apparently didn’t know enough about mushrooms.

Thanks to Modern Mommy Madness for inspiring this post and the belief in children’ s goodness.

boys

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A Letter To My Oldest Son

Hey buddy,

I can’t believe you’re going to be nine in a couple weeks. It seems like just yesterday your mom and I were bringing you home from the hospital. You gave us a good scare there in the beginning. You don’t remember your open heart surgery when you were five days old, but we remember. Vividly.

Speaking of your heart, you’re our tenderheart child. You feel greatly. Your feelings can be hurt easily. Sometimes I pick on you and lightly make fun of you not to hurt those tender feelings of yours. I do it to help you understand the difference between people teasing to make you laugh and teasing to hurt you. I do it so you won’t be so hard on yourself. I do it so you understand that humor can be the best medicine.

You are our snuggler. Our hugger. Hugs hello. Hugs goodbye. Hugs because you feel loved. Hugs because you want someone else to feel loved. When your actions help others and gains you nothing, I know you will grow up to be a great person.

I would never tell you to stop feeling. Feelings are important in today’s society. It means you care for others as much as you care for yourself. They allow you to empathise. They allow you to not just understand what others are feeling, but to know what they are feeling. Especially those closest to you.

I would never tell you to “suck it up” because this world needs more people who care. That is what calls people to action. Many people complain about a situation, their own or one with society. However, it’s the ones who care who step up and do something about it. They are the problem solvers of the world.

I would never tell you to “grow a pair” because great leaders understand emotion. They understand people’s emotions are an important part of a skill set. The greater you can make someone feel the more productive they’re likely to be. Great leaders tap into their own emotions as well as the emotions of their colleagues to make them feel as equals, not as minions.

I would never tell you to “man up”. To “man up” signifies that you are not a man. Obviously, you are not a man, you’re only nine. But you are of the man species. Telling you to man up would signify that you can’t be a man because you have emotions, because you care, because you shed a tear. It signifies that you are less than a man. To be less than a man is less than human. Less than life itself. You are not. You never will be. I don’t care what anyone tells you or tries to make you feel.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll will tell you to quit your bitchin’. You are to quit your bitchin’ if you are complaining more about the problem than doing anything to solve the problem. You are to quit your bitching if you’re complaining about something that can’t be changed (aka, the weather). You are to quit your bitchin’ if you’re complaining about something that is your own fault.

You are our tenderheart and I hope that never changes. I know there will be some events that will try to harden you. They will try to break you down into a person who doesn’t care. I hope you only let them build you up and make you the man I know you’ll be.

Love,
Dad

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