The Clarity of Parenthood

As parents we strive to raise children that are competent, compassionate, contributing citizens of the world.

One of the side effects of parenthood is the ultra-magnified focus you gain into how much of an awful self-centered person you used to be. Immediately after that child exits your wife, your perspective takes a jolted shift to camera # 2. Nothing, absolutely zero, is about you anymore. You are forced to look at the world in terms of fall risks, traffic speed, exposure to media beyond their years, and if they can choke on this or not. It is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.

You are forced to see the world in a new way…the matrix is exposed. You realize that 90% of the things you are exposed to as a parent or a child are designed to make you worry enough to purchase a solution. You also realize that the world is immensely complex and you know .0002% about anything.

This is more apparent as they learn to talk. Due to an evolutionary need to survive to procreation age their minds are learning everything about everything and if they need to know something you are their Google.

Why is the sky blue?

What does per se mean?

Why is the president orange?

As a side effect of these questions you yourself learn more and more about the mundanity and complexity of the world

Turns out the molecules in the air bend the light during most of the day to refract the blue light in the spectrum, while the angles of sunset and sunrise refract the reds and oranges.

Intrinsic or by itself- as in they aren’t necessarily “cowboy” guns per se, but the use of the revolver is very closely associated with the settling of the old west.

He is in fact orange, because his concept of beauty is skewed to a level of melanin that his skin cannot produce on its own, consequently he has altered his skin tone to compensate for his tiny hands and fragile ego. “ I may have tiny hands, but look at how beautiful my skin is and how ugly yours is.”

Eventually, this need for understanding has led me to further attempt to distill life into easily digestible and understandable tidbits and pointers.

Each day on our way to school we used to pass the time by listening to Michael Jackson’s History(disc one only). Then I realized this was the perfect time to mold some young minds! That, and even smooth criminal loses it’s luster after the 500th repeat. This led, over time, to our morning drive “wake up your brain ritual!”

Step one- think of a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet. When I have both kids I prompt them by saying the letter and they choose a word that starts with that letter

Anyway there are all these games we play to wake them up on the way to school- making change, counting by 8’s, multiplication, random lists, making up a story

The last two exercises have ended up sort of defining my day and my life philosophy….I ask the children what type of day they are planning on having. My son ever the stoic and more practical will answer with a conventional word like “Fantastic!” or “awesome” or “great!” but my daughter- the silly heart, the artist, the one we call “Jumanji” (as in her mom and I decided to play a game and she popped out of the box like a band of monkeys in your kitchen), she always says, without fail, an “Evie” day.

Naturally this leads to the question- What does that mean? She says something along the lines of “ A Great, Awesome, Happy, Fun day!” Fittingly, at 7 (now 9) she has herself figured out. She is a creature of nuance, of the full spectrum, one whose description of even an average school day cannot be contained within one word.

The prelude to this question is another rote exercise we do every day that is followed by a brief discussion. I ask one of them to tell me what the three “H’s” are — -to which they reply- Hard Work, Have Fun, Be Helpful.

Then I ask the other what are the two things in their control all day every day- the answer is, of course, “Attitude and Effort.”

Now, I told you all of that to tell you this…

Those three questions have helped me, as a grown ass man, to sort out what my life philosophy should be and has become. They are all essentially questions about outlook and an approach to life that ideally, will help my kids, and consequently myself, be more successful at life.

1) The three H’s- everyday growing up my dad would say “have fun” not be good or “see you later” but “ have fun” that memory is imprinted on my brain. I love him for this. As I became a father and had to send my kids off to school, I reflected back on this send off and while I remember it fondly, I found it lacking.

Having fun is great but it’s not enough to become awesome people. Hence, the other two H’s. being helpful and working hard. I am extremely blessed that my kids are pretty smart people. Lots of lazy people are smart. I want my kids to realize the value in working hard at something. It’s easy to do just the things that are easy for you. It’s how I ended up with a BA in Languages. What is more rewarding and in the long run more valuable is learning the feeling of working hard for something that is a challenge and getting it done. My hope is that by seeing that work is not something to be feared, but to be sought out and conquered, they will live up to their fullest potential.

Being Helpful- this world has an abundance of self-centered entitled little shits. I will be damned if my kids will be part of that cohort. We talk about what it means to be helpful- holding the door, helping a friend carry their books, or the two most basic ways to be helpful- SMILE at people and knowing when to STFU.

As kids it is easy to see what is fun and the basic ways to be helpful and working hard on a science project or your math homework. What does this mean for them as they venture out into the real world? My hope is that they will find a vocation that they find enjoyable (have fun) enough that they don’t mind doing it all the time and making an effort to get great at it(working hard) but also finding a way to use that vocation to add value (being helpful) to people’s lives. This is how they will be able to thrive in this world. If you can find something you enjoy and translate that into a value added commodity or service then you won’t have to worry about money.

2) Two controls- The ONLY two things in your control are your ATTITUDE and your EFFORT. It doesn’t matter what life throws at you or what challenges are presented to you. The outlook you take and the work you put in are the only things you can control. You can see that huge report as a trial or a challenge. Cleaning the house can either be a chore or a game…it is entirely up to you. If you tried your hardest and you learned a lesson from a failure then that is okay because you put forth the best attitude and your whole effort.

3) What kind of day are you going to have- this really is the summary of the first two. If your attitude is in the right place and you take the 3 H approach, you should always have a great day! Or even better an Evie day! This really is your get pumped moment…

What kind of day are you going to have?

An Evie day!

What does that mean?

A great, happy, fun, day!

Are you going to have an Evie day?

Yeah!

Are you going to have a great day!

Yeah!

Are you going to have a happy day?

Yeah!

Are you going to have a fun day?

Yeah!

What kind of day?

An EVIE DAY!

What kind of DAY?!

An EVIE DAY!!!

Alright!!! I love you, and I am proud of you, and I want you to attack the day and make stuff happen for you! NAMASTE beautiful!

I love you too, Namaste Daddy!