Being the father of three boys, one becomes an expert in a lot of areas. Like where are the most likely places to find unexpected puddles of pee? How many times does the cat scream before it scratches someone? What does and doesn’t require stitches? Are Christmas ornaments digestible? After your second son reaches the age of four or five, you’ve pretty much got it covered.
Or so you thought.
With the first child, everything is new. You learn, you make mistakes, you overcompensate, you freak out over everything. You read every book, article and listen to all the bad advice that anyone and everyone is willing to give. You do ok, until they reach the teen years but thats another story.
The second child comes and you know what to expect in most areas. You probably have favorite brands of diapers and formula. You know what equipment is needed to make a trip to grandma’s, and you know how many stops it will take alone the way. The second child is what I like to call the set up.
You see with the first two children you and your wife have decided that you are somewhat experts on parenting. Everything that could be thrown at you has been, you know the secrets, you understand child psychology, and you have your game in order. You are such experts that you begin having conversations about how many kids you really want. Four, five, more? Heck lets become foster parents or adopt even more! There is nothing stopping the train of parenting that you are ready to unleash on the world.
Then it happens.
The third child emerges, the child you’ve heard about. The one that completely turns every thing you thought you knew about parenthood completely on its ear. This is the child that you’ve seen in the airport and stores that you assumed was just a product of crappy parenting. The one that you told yourself was out of control because it hadn’t been properly train. Who’s parents you looked sideways at and in that patronizing way said something like “looks like you’ve got a handful”. Yeah that kid, now its yours, or should I say now its mine.
We waited five years in between children, for various reason we just spaced them out that way. When we decided to have our third, it didn’t take long to become pregnant. The pregnancy went fairly well without any major complications, which was great because we did have some with our second child. So with a 10 year old and a 5 year old we were ready for the newborn.
Our third son was born in September of 2013, we had been in Arizona about six months so we had already had some life changing events. However nothing prepared us for what was coming. He was born, a beautiful blonde haired blue eyed bundle of joy. He rapidly turned into a blue eyed blonde haired ball of fury and flying spaghetti sauce!
In his first two years of life, he has given me at least two mild heart attacks a week. We didn’t have a human child we had a spider monkey with a bad attitude. There is no child safety device complicated enough, no counter high enough, no door lock strong enough to keep this kid in check. He climbs, he breaks, he destroys, he torments, he is… that kid.
His high pitched screams, tantrums, and anger issues have driven us into a life of seclusion, we no longer leave the house. Family events are now the older kids and one parent events, we dare not subject our other kids, ourselves, or society as a whole to the wrath of a two year old who no longer wants to participate.
We fear for babysitters, and we live in a constant fear of him doing serious harm to himself because of his curiosity and ability to overcome all security measures. We live our lives with a common mantra, keep him alive! He’s made some daring escapes, one including a trip down the street to play in the neighbors yard. Many tumbles and falls and injuries, all because he is the most determined, stubborn and intelligent kid I’ve been around in a long time.
He is simply a two foot ball of frustration, he’s committed to doing everything himself. There isn’t a task that he wants anyone to do for him, there isn’t anything he doesn’t believe he should do on his own. So as time has progressed, I have become ok with that. I can see he is simply developing into his own person, be it in a very different way than his brothers. I see what he is able to accomplish, and I try not to look at is as simple rebellion or bad behavior any longer, I try to see it for what it really is. A child wanting to grow, and learn and be self sufficient. As we progress through each new stage and the different challenges it brings, I see development, I see growth, and I see someone who cant be stopped.
While there are definitely places we as parents need to help round the edges, we must learn to accept that our children are going to be their own individual. We should want clones, and we cant expect perfection. So be happy with who they are becoming, and enjoy the ride. You’re not screwing it up.
As a dad I can tell you, we will make mistakes. We may miss opportunities, we will have things to regret. That’s ok, because no matter if its a challenging child or a child that occasionally challenges, our job is the same. Be there.
And keep em alive!
This is the first article that Ive had published online by The Good Men Project!
Please take a look and share if you are so inclined!
Another day in America, and another mass shooting. Today its San Bernardino, and it will be big news for the next 48 to 72 hours. Then we will collectively move on. We live in a country that has had so many mass shootings this year alone that we don’t even hear about many of them on the news. People say this doesn’t happen in other countries, I think it probably does maybe not as often, but that is really beside the point. I am an American, what happens here is my first concern.
I grew up in the deep south and I currently live in Arizona, I know guns, and I’ve lived the gun culture my entire life. I shot guns before I could drive, I own a gun today. I’ve been part of organizations that pushed for less gun control, I have friends that open carry. I have decried liberals and moderates who pushed for “common sense” gun control.
What I haven’t done is ever lost anyone I love to gun violence.
I have children, young children, and I worry about where we are headed. I worry that we don’t know what has brought us to this point in our society that we can’t even discuss this issue without it exploding into a left right argument. There seemingly can be no common ground, both sides are accused of supporting evil, all while people are being put in the ground daily from gun violence.
Perspectives change, and far too often they change when we are confronted with something life altering. I can’t say that though at least not personally. I haven’t been robbed or shot at, nobody I love or even know has either, but I am still concerned. Sitting outside at a restaurant a few nights ago, I could only think about the Paris shootings and looked around and thought how easily it could happen right where I sat. Then I realized that if something like that were to happen to me or to my family, we would just be more numbers and more political pawns. We’d still be just as dead though.
All that being said, I am not really scared for myself. I don’t believe in living in fear of the what ifs, I don’t believe in hiding from the unknown. Mainly because I realize the odds of something like that happening to me are slim. I do realize though that it will happen to someone, and then it will happen again to someone else.
So what do we do? Its obvious that the pro gun side will never be convinced that there is a problem with the culture. We saw a reporter and a cameraman murdered live on the air this year in Virginia and it didn’t seem to phase us. So I am not sure that there is anything that will. I also think its obvious that the anti gun crowd will never understand the reasoning behind wanting to own a gun, and how important that freedom is to us as a nation. I certainly don’t want to take any honest American’s gun away, but I also don’t want to continue to lose innocent people to these situations on a near daily basis.
Certainly the problem is more than guns, and certainly its not just a mental health problem. The truth is, we just don’t care about our fellow man anymore, I mean at all. We don’t have sympathy for the ones lost to violence and we don’t have sympathy for the ones who for whatever reason go over the edge and pull the trigger. As I write this we don’t know all the facts of the shooting, exactly who or why but that really isn’t what this is about. Our culture just doesn’t care about anyone.
We live in a world where the good that mankind does is really only for social media posts, and likes. We only care about people if it will turn into a viral story or video, we rarely do things out of the kindness of our hearts anymore if we did we wouldn’t take pictures of the homeless veteran we just gave a dollar meal to and post it on Facebook. We would’t feel the need to tweet every time we volunteered at the food bank.
Offering empty thoughts and prayers hasn’t fixed anything yet, and I doubt it ever will. Until we start caring about each other this epidemic will continue unabated. We have to stop just looking to place blame when bad happens, we have to start caring long before then.
The empathy that we had as a nation is gone, it seems daily that people become more bitter, more vitriol, more angry. We’ve turned on each other like dogs, we cant even drive to work without altercations. We seem less enlightened than ever, we are slipping into another dark age. Logic, reason, science and human kindness are scoffed at. Ignorance is the new American way, hatred is the new religion, honest discourse is not allowed.
I don’t know how we fix this, I don’t even know if we want to.