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Archive for August 18th, 2010

So, originally I was planning on posting on the hypocrisy of people wanting to modify the 14th amendment.  It is as hypocritical an idea I have ever heard and as far as I am concerned it is yet another veiled act of racism.  Although I wrote that post (coming soon), I was distracted by an idea I had about an experience I had at the gym involving very naked and very old men (also coming soon).  Unfortunately, I had an incident today that I feel compelled to talk about in this post.

As some of you may be aware, my son is taking football for the first time.  The coaches tell me he is doing great.  They have been extremely supportive and I have had great conversations with them and their insights to how they think they will use him in the game.  He is slated to play defensive line.

In the beginning, I don’t think he liked it because the first week was all conditioning, but whenever we talked about how he would hit people in the future, his eyes would light up and it was clear he was excited to play football.

Now don’t get me wrong, my son is awesome, but his interactions with the world and other people are not the same as other 10-year-olds.  It is for this reason that I worry about him constantly.  I worry that he will have difficulties making friends, understanding his teachers to be successful in school, and now being able to learn a game he has never played before with several coaches giving multiple instructions.  He is a big kid, and like most people who are especially big, tall, or strong, certain expectations/assumptions are made upon them.  Although he is large, he is also the sweetest, nicest, and most unassuming kid you will ever meet.  He is a pleasure to be around, and probably not a single aggressive bone in his body.  The funny thing is, I was the same way at his age, and I believe I am trying to fix MY “flaw” in him.  I stated in a previous post (Parenting: Raising Children in a Bubble) that “nothing will make you more angry than when your child does or experiences something that is a direct reflection of your own flaws.”  You see, my son did nothing wrong, yet I saw in him something that I wish I would’ve done when I was his age.  It was as if I could fix my flaws through him.

You may have kids and if you do, I’ll ask you this: What is your flaw that you try to fix in your kid(s)?  Maybe you think that if only your son/daughter would apply their God-given talents they would be more successful than you ever were.  Or maybe you wish your child wasn’t so lazy, because you know how lazy you were at their age.  Maybe your child gets too emotional, not emotional enough, no initiative, not prepared for the future, or dating the wrong guy or girl.  But I will ask you to seriously think about it.  Is the thing that annoys you the most, also your flaw?

If you don’t have kids, my guess is that the parent you have the most struggles with are most like you.  If you don’t believe me or you think that it isn’t true, just ask someone else.  For example, my father and I are very alike.  He has an annoying way of saying things to you that are not exactly kind.  They are often true, but it is in the tone that is truly irritating.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my father, and he is significantly more tolerable than he used to be (I think age does that), but he can get under my skin like no one on the planet.  And today, the tone I used with my son after his football practice was from page one of my father’s handbook.  It was like I was acting just like my father, something I promised I would not do, but it was like I was hovering over my body and it was channeling my dad’s tone.

I think we all struggle with our parent’s “mistakes”.  I have placed the word in quotes because I am no longer convinced they were mistakes, but consequences of being human.  My friend, Doug posted a comment (Don’t Have Kids … Please) that I believe states it best:  “But as Don Luis Miguel said in his book, “The Four Agreements,” we hear these things, make an agreement with it, and then later on spread this same negativity. Hopefully today for that mom, and in the future for that child, they begin to break that cycle by making new agreements. 1. Be impeccable with your word. 2. Don’t take things personally. 3. Don’t make assumptions. 4. Always do your best. I have had to work very hard at not doing some of the same things to my kids that my parents did to me. At the same time, I had to let go of resentments about those things and realize that my parents did what they were taught and did the best they could with what they knew.”

I don’t resent my parents.  I think they did a bang up job, but it does not mean that there aren’t cycles I would like to break.  At the end of my little tirade at my son today, I apologized.  He did not deserve my tone.  I told him how great I think he is and how his dad unfortunately gets carried away sometimes.  It was not my intention to make him feel bad.  At dinner I told him that I did not need to be at practice, and he could ask me when he felt he needed my help.  Before he went to bed he said he wanted me at practice, and I was very relieved.

I know I am not the best father in the world, but I hope I am the type of person that can learn from his mistakes and continually strive to be a better person.  I don’t know if I broke the cycle as my friend Doug discusses above, but I do know that I apologized to my son for a mistake that I made, and I am pretty sure that is different.  Maybe the cycle has been broken after all.

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My father is not perfect, but he has been supportive to all his kids and you will not find a more stable, supportive, give the shirt off his back, did the best he could father on the planet.  Not funny, but true.  I’m just sayin …

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