No one tells you about the joy and pain that children bring, at least not in a fashion that you can understand until you become a parent.
My heart aches and my fists are clenched. My daughter is going through a rough spot and I can’t just make it go away.
It is nothing permanent and I am not worried it is going to turn into anything bigger, but it doesn’t make it any easier to see her struggle a bit. Growing pains, a hiccup in the road caused by some changes and time at a new school. It won’t last.
She is as tough as nails, but she doesn’t see it. She doesn’t have the benefit of life experience to see what everyone else sees and it is ok, she will, but not yet.
In The Beginning
He asked me not to die and I decided to blog about it. It was December of 2004 and my son was weeks away from turning four. Who knew that a simple question would be the thing that led me to take blogging seriously.
Up to that point I was kind of screwing around. I hadn’t found my voice or developed a rhythm for writing. I was just improvising, which I guess I still do now, but without the focus I have today.
He wasn’t old enough to really understand death but for a short while it was on his mind and we talked about it. It helped prepare me for discussions that came later. When my daughter screamed “Daddy You Died” I knew just a little bit more than I had when I went through it with her older brother.
There have been many posts in which I chronicled the lives of my children. Some are simple tales and some relate stories about stolen innocence.
The longer I do this for the more grateful I become for this living journal of our lives.
Middle School Magic
He told me he didn’t want me to die but this time it was a very different discussion. He is in sixth grade now and very aware of the world around him.
We spent time talking about his history class and talked about war. One of his grandfathers is Vietnam Veteran who saw combat. Grandpa doesn’t talk about it much but his friends do and so my son has heard…things.
Today we touched upon some old discussions in which he had asked me about the draft. I told him it wasn’t active when I turned 18 but I had thought about it during the first Gulf War.
I was in college then and went to goodbye parties for friends who were Marines. The conversation shifted over to Iraq and the present. I mentioned I had heard about some security jobs there and that I knew people who had talked about taking them.
Combat pay. I told him that was what some of them were interested in. I said I had heard some people were making about $60k a month to work in very dangerous situations.
“Don’t go dad, I don’t want you to die.”
Honesty and Off The Cuff Talk
I looked at him and said he didn’t have to worry. I told him I was thinking out loud and that it wasn’t entirely fair for me to do that. I explained it was several years ago that I had had this conversation and that I wasn’t even certain if the money quote was accurate.
He tells me when he is older he wants to start his own business so I turned the conversation on its ear and talked to him about the importance of evaluating opportunities. Is it worth $60k a month to take a chance on getting shot? It sounds like a lot of money, but you can’t spend it if you are dead.
“Your job is to look at each opportunity and think about it. It might be as good as it sounds or it might be less. Sometimes it might be very bad. Your job is to look, listen and think.”
He nodded his head and I gave him a big hug.
My daughter was nervous when she went to bed. She heard the neighbor tell me about how some cars were broken into around the neighborhood and wanted to know if they would break into our house too.
It reminded me of a conversation her older brother had with me when he was really little. He told me if bad guys came I was to “kill them dead.”
I hugged her and told her I wasn’t worried about people breaking in. It was unlikely and I promised that the dog and I would protect everyone.
“Daddy, will you kill them if they try to hurt us?”
I didn’t say anything and hugged her instead.
“Daddy, that is a yes. You always get quiet when you are serious.”
I hope I never have to find out, but dad’s protect their families and sometimes that means killing the bad guys dead.