Friday, August 01, 2008

Clueless About Parenthood

Yesterday after my work day ended, I picked up my wife at her office and we headed to my granddaughter's daycare. I was looking forward to dinner with Chloe at McDonald's, her favorite restaurant. After picking her up she told me a story about how her dog pooped in her bedroom and that her mother was very mad at the dog. After dinner we took her home. When I arrived at my son's house, he and some friends were practicing the manly art of stump removal. I'm glad he didn't ask for my help. He is deep into a landscape renovation. Before I left to go home, I had to walk Chloe around on my shoulders and chase her around the house. "Do it one more time, Pa Paw"! I'm not sure how many times I did it before I was seeing stars and felt like I was having a heart attack. "Tickle me, Pa Paw"! "Let me climb on the stairs and jump. Will you catch me, Pa Paw"? "Chloe, Pa Paw is old. I need to sit down a minute". Whew! This little girl wears me out but I love being with her.

If you're in the mood to purchase a smoking blues CD, buy the new CD by Buddy Guy. It's called "Skin Deep". Eric Clapton, who is no slouch on the guitar, considers Buddy Guy the "greatest living guitar player". I have seen Buddy perform many times. At the last concert I attended I walked up to the stage and he gave me one of his guitar picks. It is now a treasured music artifact and has a place of honor in my music room. Are you impressed that I am still out there rocking and rolling at age 57? Buddy Guy is in his 70's and he plays the guitar with the energy of a 25 year old. Long live the blues!

When I decided to get married at the tender young age of 23 way back in 1974, I thought marriage would be like dating. If two or three hours with my wife to be on a date was so enjoyable, how much more so would it be to spend 24 hours a day together! I don't need to tell any of you who are married or living with another person how naive this was. Marriage is not that simple. If I was naive about marriage, I was even more clueless about parenthood. Although I grew up with a Mom and a Dad and five brothers and sisters, I had no idea about the demands of parenthood until I became a parent myself. When my sons were babies and young boys, the demands were great but once you got into a routine, it wasn't so bad. All my wife and I had for guidance were our parents and a paperback copy of Dr Spock's book of parenting. I was blessed to have a spouse to share the responsibilities with and we had no major issues until my oldest son reached puberty and the teen age years. In the spirit of kindness and forgiveness, let's just say he was a challenging young man. Neither of my children are perfect and they are also very different from one another. The good news is that both of them have turned out very good in spite of many mistakes made on my part as a parent. In spite of my own personal weaknesses and mistakes, I have tried to be a positive role model. I have tried to be faithful to my own values and to live with a moral consciousness. They did not always agree with me and I am sure there were times I was considered a clueless old man. I tried to always do and say the right thing, expressing my beliefs and opinions, while trying to instill in them a sense of right and wrong. All of this is a preface to the main idea I want to put out today. If you want your children to turn out to be decent human beings, stick to your values and be a positive and moral example to them. Later in life they will forgive your mistakes if you remained true to what you believe and practice. Most parents try to make up for whatever weaknesses they believed their own parents had. Unfortunately, your own weaknesses will eventually appear and you will make different mistakes. Your children may never actually tell you what they admire about you or what a positive influence you were. However, their lives will say volumes. My older son was a challenge in his youth. Now he's a good husband and father. His brother wasn't a lot of trouble but he had his own issues. I like to believe that the kind of father I was has positively influenced the kind of father my oldest son is to Chloe. I also hope my spiritual nature has had some influence on my youngest son's desire to be a priest. All in all, I've been blessed and all the challenges and demands of parenthood have been worth all the effort and struggle. The seeds you plant early in their lives will blossom later. Then, as an older parent, you can sit back and enjoy their maturity and coming of age.

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