I love the holidays as I’m sure you all do as well. It’s a time to catch up on things we’ve wanted to do. It’s a time to put our feet up and relax. And it’s a time to catch up on all that sleep we’ve been missing…
That is, unless you have a young child.
Don’t get me wrong, having a child is a wonderful thing, but holidays are no longer times to relax, but instead it means 24/7 dad duty.
And when you have a child who’s three and a half, you need to grow eyes at the back of your head.
When kids are babies they are the cutest little things. Sure, sometimes they keep you up half the night, but you’re their entire world.
Then around the age of one they start walking. So adorable. Until you realize that you now have to move anything sharp, of value or simply shiny out of their reach.
Next comes being able to talk. It’s a joy when your son or daughter can actually communicate with you because up until then it’s one big game of charades and a lot of guessing.
With my son closing in on four he’s becoming a real handful.
He’s deceptively fast. Once I turned my head for literally 2 seconds and he was gone. Freaked me out…until I happened to see him halfway across the park playing happily on a slide. How he got there I’ll never know.
He’s also smart enough to figure things out. He can open doors, turn on lights, and lock doors (as I learned this X-Mas vacation as I had to spend an hour just before I went to bed to track down a key for the bathroom door – I was not a happy camper I will tell you).
He’s curious about everything. He wants to know who, what, when, where and what happened…later this year the why’s will start.
And most dangerous of all, he doesn’t know the meaning of the word danger.
He is not scared of streets, high places, water and appliances.
He is simply being a kid.
All children only have two fears – the fear of falling and loud noises. Everything else is learned.
I have almost drowned three times, I have almost been hit by a bus and I have almost died from getting a candy stuck in my throat. Over time we learn what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do.
But there’s only so much we can protect our children from.
We all need to learn from our own mistakes.
As a parent, I believe it’s my job to act as a protector and guide through life, but I must also give my son space to grow. After all, if love is the best gift we can give our children, then the second is to help them become a confident, independent individual. (third is the gift of language and fourth the gift of knowledge)
Now that doesn’t mean letting them do whatever they want, when they want…it means parents must be both there and unthere. If that makes any sense.
We must learn to react when the times needed, and when to hold back and let them learn on their own.
It’s not an easy job, but it is probably the greatest one we ever take on.
Parents don’t get awards or get paid to do what they do. They do it because it’s simply a joy.
We might not think so when we’re deadly tired and our son’s bugging us to take him to the park. And we might curse the heavens when our daughter refuses to listen to us.
But in the end parenthood is one simple thing – an investment.
It’s the greatest investment any of us could ever make because it requires our time, it requires money and it requires energy.
But the thing about investments is that the more you invest in something, the bigger and better chance that it pays off big.
Parents only find out if they made the right decisions when their children grow up so I’m still a ways away.
What I do know is this – Three short years ago, my son couldn’t walk or talk…today he’s almost ready to conquer the world (or so he thinks).
Soon he’ll be a young boy who won’t ask for my help, although he’ll still need it from time to time.
There are times when parents tell me they can’t wait for their children to grow up…but nearly everyone of them always tells me how much they miss those days when their children needed them.
So as is true of all of life, be sure that you enjoy the journey in pursuit of what you want.
I’m enjoying being a father, an educator, an entrepreneur and a speaker. I’m not sure quite sure what the future holds for me, but what I do know is that it’s one wild ride and 2012 will be very interesting indeed but that’s for tomorrow’s post.
I’ll leave you with a quote that sums up what it means to be a parent – “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
Be sure you enjoy the ride : )