Two weeks from today, you’ll turn 3 years old. Today Mommy picked up a few Hot Wheels pick-up trucks as party favors for your very small birthday party coming up; the theme is “Trucks.”
The intention was for you to receive one of these party favors yourself, at the time of your actual birthday party.
You convinced Mommy to let you “just hold” your favorite truck out of the bunch, a brown 1987 Toyota.
That’s right, you carried it, in the package, all day, out in public. We went to your school’s Halloween party today, with each member of our family having to hold your in-the-package pick-up truck at some point.
As you were receiving candy and prizes from your teachers along the way, there we were carrying around a packaged toy.
On the drive home tonight, you announced, “Somebody said I can open it.”
You’re unsure of exactly who it was, of course. Being that the only other two people in the car were Mommy and me, it really made the “somebody” a real mystery.
By the time we walked in the front door, Mommy left it up to me. The ridiculous compromise we settled on was that we would let you open your truck, but we had to keep the package in tact and “pretend” to open it in front of your birthday guests so it would seem like a surprise to you too.
Patience is a virtue… that you’re still working on. But hey, so am I. Honestly, who’s not still working on that one?
It’s so hard to hold back sometimes, even though the timing just isn’t right yet.
I know I’ve lived that lesson more times than I wish to count.
The good news for you is, I don’t see a lot of repercussions with you privately opening your own birthday party favor two weeks early.
No one ever has to know, especially since we managed to open the package without tearing it too badly.
That’s definitely the case at my job in the office. I don’t assume I’ll get a raise simply because I’ve been employed there for a certain amount of time.
I see it more of an old school concept that you get a raise based on time. Instead, I work with the mindset that I need to daily show my employer that I’m one of the most proactive, diligent, and creative workers there.
Basically, as I prove myself more each day, I’m rewarded with new tasks and responsibilities- in other words, more hard work.
The concept is that I will eventually hold so many responsibilities and successly completed projects that a new pay grade will eventually be unavoidable.
Until then, I’m working hard and being rewarded with more hard work.
I wish I could tell you that life was easier than that. I don’t think it is.
The thought of ever retiring seems not only impossible for me, but it simply seems like a joke; not just because I have no faith in the Social Security program. It’s also that I can’t imagine not feeling the pressure of accomplishing tasks all the time.
I’m afraid I’m one of those people who would die within a year after retiring. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Therefore, I plan to stay moving and active.
As I write all this, I can’t help but think about how this mindset makes me think of being a parent. With each new phase I complete, like the get-no-sleep phase when you were a newborn, I graduate to a newer and more advanced job.
Nearly three years ago I was cleaning bottles, whereas these days I’m helping you potty train.
If the reward for a job well done is more hard work, then that means hard work is rewarding. Weird concept, but I get it. Actually, one of my favorite books in the world is Ecclesiastes, which is widely believed to be written by the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon.
This sums it up for me in a way I can appreciate:
“5:18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.”
If that’s how I see the world, and how I see life, it would seem difficult to feel entitled to much.
Needless to say, I am your daddy. That means the reward for being your daddy is, being your daddy.
Thursday night for Halloween, Mommy and I will be taking you to the neighboorhood Fall Festival.
I think we are more excited than you are, as it seems you are confused by what will be taking place there.
The thought of everyone dressing up in costumes and getting free candy for no real good reason, well… yeah, I could see the confusion.
Something I just now thought of is how you won’t necessarily know how to mentally process the upcoming influx of candy.
Meanwhile, I won’t know how to mentally process the upcoming influx of candy, either.
As a parent who practices a strict plant-based lifestyle, the thought of you having access to all that petroleum-based food dye and high-fructose corn syrup is actually the scariest part of Halloween, for me.
I wish I could think of a more clever title than that, but that’s the best way to summarize how I see it.
If only it was as easy as two people falling in love and having babies and it all automatically working out after that…
Like marriage, maintaining a positively functioning family is hard work. It’s an investment.
Our lives spent together as a family are enriched because we accept the challenges and mysteries of everyday life together. But being a family doesn’t magically fix things.
The way I see it, a strong family must be built and nurtured. I can’t expect to be completely fulfilled by you and Mommmy.
That would be putting way too much pressure and responsibility on both of you. In the same way, I can’t make your life perfect and complete simply because I’m part of your family.
Being part of a family means agreeing to go through the worst parts of life together with the same passion and acceptance as we do the best parts.
It’s a priviledge, a responsibility, and a blessing.
I don’t mean to seem so fatalistic or gloomy about it, but I do believe that love is long suffering. I believe that’s part of what a family’s love is all about. Yet, I believe that same love is also kind.
And that it doesn’t envy; that it doesn’t parade itself. It’s not puffed up; it doesn’t behave rudely. It doesn’t seek after a selfish agenda.
I believe love is not provoked and doesn’t think evil or rejoice in iniquity, but instead, in truth.
The way I see it, our family’s love must bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.
And I believe love never fails.
Yes, that’s easier to say than to live out on a daily and lifelong basis. I know.
Because love is not automatic or easy. It’s a choice.
Maybe it’s too naive to aim for perfect love in our family, but I do know that perfect love drives out fear.
I can’t expect things just to work out for us because we are a family. I have to be the kind of love I want to receive in our family.
To me, this is what real love is actually about. It’s a little too real sometimes.
Back before you were of disciplining age, I was no skeptic of parents who refused to spank their child; in fact, I passionately mocked the idea of discplining without spanking.
I vehemently disagreed with Super Nanny’s approach.
“Time out? Yeah right. Like that does any good,” I would think to myself.
I believed that “non-spanking” was part of a liberal media agenda which led to uncontrollable children and even, overall, a higher crime rate for the adults who were not spanked as kids.
Then I changed my mindset. I stopped looking at opposing groups of people as “wrong” or “right,” based on their opinions. I stopped feeding into the polarization of America, based on our divided cultural leanings and preferences.
(Even to the point I now think Republicans and Democrats are equal. I realize it’s heresy to both sides to say that, though.)
But it’s true that I use to totally stereotype parents who didn’t spank their children.
I assumed that if a parent didn’t spank their child, they definitely didn’t effectively discipline them. Or it meant, in theory, they didn’t really discipline them at all.
Something that always kept me close-minded to the concept of discipline without spanking is a Bible verse (Proverbs 13:24) that I had always interpreted in a preconceived way:
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
I always took that to mean “the rod” (or the paddle, etc.) exclusively equalled discipline. In other words, I thought it would be impossible to properly discipline a child without ultimately resorting to spanking. But now, I read that verse differently:
My interpretation is, “It’s better to spank your child in an effort to discipline them, than to not discipline your child at all. But the main thing is, that you do discipline your child- not necessarily how you discipline them.”
Therefore, I totally don’t care how other parents discipline their children. I used to, but I’m way over that.
What I do care about is how I discipline you. And for Mommy and I, that means not resorting to spanking. For us, that’s what we feel is right for our family.
Again, I have completely neutral feelings about how other parents discipline their kids. I have no time to think or care about that. None of my business or concern. Complete Libertarian approach.