Through the course of raising a child I would imagine there are countless opportunities for teaching poignant, effective life lessons. I also imagine that, in those times, I will probably be caught off guard, distracted, or overwhelmed by the situation, or more likely than not, completely forget how to speak eloquently. What little ability I once had to weave words intelligently and speak them as such has already gone out the window since the birth of the little dude. When I make attempts to verbally form sentences, they usually come out disjointed and incomplete, at best, or incoherent and without any real English words at worst. So, in those rare moments of mental clarity that I brilliantly come up with a way I’d like to teach my little guy something in the future, I desperately cling to the idea in hopes that I will remember the gist of what I’d like to convey. Here are just a couple teachings I’d like to impart to my son when he is old enough to both understand what I say and appreciate the sagacious methods for which I will pass on my wisdom.
We’ve all seen those ridiculous gigantic pencils, usually sold in tacky novelty gift stores, that rarely attract children when placed next to plastic light up whirlygigs. Less often seen are the monstrous erasers that are the size of books. When mini- Gwinn starts kindergarten, I want to give him a gift on his first day: a gigantic pencil, a gigantic eraser, and a letter from Captain Laser Pants and myself that says:
This big pencil is for all your really BIG ideas – anything you can imagine, anything you can think up, write it down and live it out. Nothing is too big for this pencil and you.
This big eraser is for all your really BIG mistakes – it’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to be wrong. You have a giant eraser and two parents who will ALWAYS be there to help you. We love you and we know that you will have some awesome big ideas and some big mistakes too. We can’t wait to see what you come up with, and we can’t wait to be there for you when you need us.
Love, mom and dad
I think that in our society today kids aren’t truly allowed to be “kids”. They’re expected to go to gymnastics, piano practice, karate, ballet, soccer practice, chess club and more all before the tender age of five. It is great to have your child learn discipline or new skill, but it’s also equally important for children to be children. I wonder how much pressure little ones really feel from their parents to be perfect in a society where perfectionism reigns supreme. I know that I want to teach my son that it’s ok to dream big and to fail big, as long as he’s giving it his all.
The second teaching epiphany I had will (hopefully) not be needed for a very, very long time. It stemmed from a conversation CLP and I had about the importance of being selective in one’s mate.
I am an incredibly picky person, not about everything, but about many things. One avenue of my life in which I am particular selective is the produce I buy. I pick up every bag of fruit, every apple, every carton of berries, and turn it over carefully. I don’t grab the ones from the front- they’ve been handled by grubby hands too often. I make sure there are no mold spots, no brown spots, no holes, and no weird markings. If it looks like it has been dropped, or doesn’t look absolutely fresh, I move on. As a result, the produce I have in my home is always beautiful. My sandwiches have crisp tomato slices. My vegetable dishes taste fresh. The fruit my husband eats is carefully selected so that he enjoys it at its fullest potential. Would you want to eat something that lots of hands have been touching? Would you want to eat something that has been passed around, dropped on the ground, sampled by a toddler and then placed back in the bin, or left to rot? Of course not. And if I am this obsessively picky about my produce, and if you are selective about what you eat, then why wouldn’t you be that much more selective about the kind of person you date, and eventually marry? You don’t want to be that person who has been passed around, and you don’t want to be with someone that way, either. It would leave a rotten taste in your mouth, emotionally speaking, to waste time with rotten “produce”. My brother had a phrase in high school for girls like that- dirty pizza. Would YOU want to eat a piece of pizza that had had been dropped on the floor by someone else? No? Didn’t think so.
I sincerely hope to instill selectiveness in my son. And gentility. And to treat women with respect. Is this premature? Some may think so. It is my experience that children learn from infancy by watching what goes on in their home. How a husband and wife treat one another, speak to one another, treat and speak to others all greatly influence the way a child perceives how social interaction should take place. I was truly blessed in this regard- my dad is loving and respectful to my mom. My mom adores my dad. She raised us to speak with proper grammar, to respect our parents, and to be kind. My siblings and I may not be CEOs of fortune 500 companies, but we’re all the kind of people that others like to be around (I’m probably the surliest of us all, so I can’t really claim this one one hundred percent). Do I want my son to be successful? Of course. More importantly, though, I want him to be the kind of man that people respect because of his good heart, solid judgment, and his kindness towards others. If I forget to impart all my other brilliant pearls of wisdom to him, it will always be my goal to teach him to be a good man. He may be my child, but I’m really just a steward of his for now.