June 16, 2014 - 7:43 AM
Lock and load, baby: Dad’s got a new weapon.
And I needed one. I’ve been shooting blanks for months, firing away at the kids, aiming for wisdom and evidently missing the mark. I needed some new ammunition, something to make them pay attention. Because I have the answer to that age-old question: If a man lectures his kids in the forest and nobody hears, did he make any sense? No, of course not.
So check this one out:
‘Son,’ I said, ‘I know this doesn’t make sense to you right now. I’m telling you something I know is important and you don’t see that yet. It’s hard to understand because, well, you think you know everything. But do you remember being 10? Would you say you’re smarter and wiser than you were then? Of course. So if we look ahead to when you are, say, 20—do you think you will be smarter and wiser still? Yes, lots of learning still to do, right?’
And here it comes: ‘Now, son, I’ve been 10 and I’ve been your age. I’ve been 20 and now I’m... older even than that. So don’t you think it’s a good idea to hear me out on this? (And... insert lecture here.)’
BAM! BULLSEYE! Over the barrier, through the ears and right between the eyes and it even worked. Perhaps too well. I’ve always said parenting is the study of unintended consequences and I never saw that slug of wisdom whistle past my own eyes.
Because I was exactly like they were. I have crystal clear visuals of my mom babbling about a great many things while I was probably thinking about sports or girls. I’d sit there watching mom’s brow furrow and lips flap and wonder: is THIS something I need to know right now? Mom’s just doing her job. Which was to make me miserable. Clearly.
Yet when I needed to understand, they magically made more sense. When I got my first job washing dishes in a restaurant and sought guidance, her words returned to me from nowhere: ‘Work as hard as the hardest worker,’ I remembered her saying. ‘Only rest when everyone else does.’
‘Do it right the first time,’ she told me. ‘And if you’re not sure what to do, ask questions until you know.’
I remember my dad, too, taking me through vehicle maintenance. He showed me how to change a tire, the oil and some other stuff I never retained becaue I was giggling at him greasing nipples. Paying attention then would have saved me thousands.
When I think back, yeah, I remember them trying. Lectures about junk food, eating right, rising early and going to bed early, go outside and play, get a job. And most of it was probably good advice wasted on youth.
It wasn’t until I was older that I returned seeking wisdom on everything from recipes to investments and from home maintenance to being a good parent. And I don’t know if it was I who changed or they did but just now I don’t remember the last time I got a lecture. The lessons have slowly dissipated as well.
They will listen for hours about the latest tests and trials, about which, I can often convince myself, no one else ever wrestled with. In response, I get no more demands, no more ‘you can’t’ do this or ‘you must’ do that.
No lectures, no tricks. Just their assurance they’ve seen my impassable mountain before, wondered how they’d get over it until they figured it out. Life went on and if ever they looked back they saw it was never a mountain to begin with.
Now they just nod and smile.
I conjure stupid tricks and scripts to shock, push, cajole, motivate, inspire, excite, scare, guilt—whatever I think will help vital lessons break through and be understood by my kids—and my own parents just nod and smile.
I don't fully understand it, yet. But when I'm ready, I'm sure I will.
— Marshall Jones is the editor of Infotel News.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014