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Two Words I Never Thought I’d Say: Slow Down

January 29th, 2013


Play. It keeps us from growing up too fast.
Play. It keeps us from growing up too fast.

Madeline Grace: Daaaad! There’s a dead lizard in the house.

Me: Tell your mother.

Madeline Grace: MOM! There’s a dead lizard in the house.

Mom: Tell your father, ‘That’s a dad’s job.’

Madeline Grace: Dad, Mommy said getting rid of the lizard is a dad’s job.

Me: Ask her, ‘What’s a mom’s job?’

Madeline Grace (before asking Mom what a mom’s job is): Dad - a mom’s job is making sure that Daddies do their job.

Children – they acquire traits, habits, mannerisms, a sense of humor, wisdom - the origin of which is the subject of much parental debate.  Without touching too much on the topic of “I wonder who he/she got that from,” I’m learning a few things.

Children pay attention much more than we (or at least I) give them credit for.  They understand much more, and they hear much more.  The way I act toward family, friends, strangers, my wife, the jokes I tell, the comments I make, the songs I listen to - all are processed by my children with much more clarity than I realized.

I’m learning that I need to take greater ownership of the role that I play in shaping our children’s behavior, their empathy towards others, their integrity, their ability to love and be loved, and so much more.

Upon starting parenthood, my parents told me, just as I’m sure their parents told them, “Children grow up fast.  Before you know it, they’ll be gone so make time to enjoy their childhood and understand the magnitude of the role you play in their lives.”

My parents were right, of course.  Madeline Grace turned nine this month.  Matthew turns eleven in a few weeks.  I can remember their first birthdays like it was yesterday, and now it occurs to me that in just nine more birthdays, our kids will most likely be out of the nest.

I’m all about going fast, but I’m gradually learning that when it comes to life, especially a child’s life, faster is not always better.  I understand the notions of freedom, and “cutting the cord,” but there is no reason to unwittingly play a role in accelerating my children’s childhood.

So I’m watching what I say, what I watch on the tube and on the computer, what I listen to on satellite radio, and I’m starting to take more stock in the notion that children can be shaped and molded.  Unfortunately for me, based on the conversation above, my smart and crafty wife is a few steps ahead of me in this regard.

But this is okay because if I can convince my family that it’s good to grow up a little slower, it’ll give me time to catch up.

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