Actually, you know, like, um; actually, you know, like. um….
My son, Yuri, is actually a good kid. We survive his shenanigans with little harm to home or body. But with him turning five, there is worry about how fast he is growing, both physically and in expressing independence.
Our children are a product of ourselves interacting with their environment. Whenever they say or do something bad, as a parents we should feel partially responsible.
Certainly my wife blames me for Yuri’s rude habits, as if I’m a big brother rather than a father. Children are sponges. Four days a week at a school/daycare, means he picks up actually quite a lot.
“Geeks smell bad and nerds wear plaid.”
I say to Yuri while actually wearing plaid pajamas with a pre-shower stink.
Wife holds me responsible for his messy room as if my corner of our basement was some sort of negative example. Pff, he didn’t get “actually” from me, so um maybe he picked up being messing from someone else too… right?
I know, right, but um, does that make me a bad father?
“Shenanigans,” she’d say.
“No you shenanigans!” But his retort was really a declaration of scheming intent.
Not long before my son was born, a coworker talked about being a friend to his son more than a father. I had yearned for a big brother growing up and got to thinking I could be what I was for my little brother and sister in addition to being the dad.
Now, with the advantage of five years experience, I see two broad categories for good fathers, one based in respect and one in friendship. Maintaining both from toddler through teen and adulthood seems actually impossible.
I chose friendship.
He runs at me with open arms. An airplane coming in for a hug, ignoring the shoppers stepping aside and my cries to be careful. He cashes into me like a boy mortar and squeezes with a growl before telling me in one run on sentence all about his day.
There is a price to pay. I ride to work and think oh oh look at that crane, as if I’m a kid again. We influence each other, are we father and son, or brothers?
So long as he respects me when it’s actually important. I think it will be okay.
Rob the post office to make things go boom?
The following is conversation about today’s festivities and expectations with my son:
“I actually really really like fireworks, because they explode a lot of colors.” Yuri says with fingers clasped together.
“Those kind are expensive,” I say, “and probably illegal.”
“Um, ahh, maybe if they give us their money, then maybe we’ll give our money back to them. I mean, um, when we get the fireworks that go up in the air and explode, then we’ll give their money back and we can set up the fireworks that can explode.”
“Ok, where do we get money to buy fireworks?”
“The post office.”
“So you want to go to the post office and tell them to give us their money so we can make things explode?”
“And what made you think of this? What gave you that idea?”
“In my mind.”
After expertly lowering expectations
I’m also pretty certain I’ve thwarted future such schemes…. with logic.
As long as he isn’t reintroduced to the idea of stealing and making things explode over the next decade of video games and movies, I’m sure he’ll be just fine, a productive cog in the machine just like his um, you know, dad.