I always knew the day would come when my children would see no reason or purpose in my kissing them goodnight.
That a day would come when they wouldn’t want me to read a book or tell them a story and that my “chase away the monster services” would no longer be wanted but I didn’t think it would happen overnight.
Ok, it didn’t happen overnight but it felt like the time between six months and a 16 passed as fast as a long weekend which is to say, way too quickly.
I went to bed as Superman and woke up as a nerdy old guy who needs help dressing and should never dance in public.
That little girl of mine, the one who will turn 12 in a couple of weeks but thinks she is 30 cracks me up.
Most of the time it is for all the right reasons but there are moments where she and I bang heads and I wonder if she recognizes how many traits she and I share in common.
Or if recognizes that I am not kidding when I say I can do anything in public and not worry about being embarrassed because I had that filter removed.
Confession: I can’t do anything in public without being embarrassed but I can do most things and just not care whether people think I am cool or an idiot.
I have earned all of those adjectives and a few more and will continue to do so as I age, that is part of the joy of living.
My goal isn’t to embarrass my children but I won’t lie and say that I haven’t used the threat to inspire better behavior.
People like to say that disciplining your children is simple and in some ways it is. If you set boundaries, use logical consequences and are consistent most of the time it is a breeze.
If you set boundaries, use logical consequences and are consistent most of the time it is a breeze.
But no one tells you that sometimes enforcing those consequences requires work. You have to watch your kids and make sure they are not doing or doing what they have been told to do or not do.
During the school year you might need to punish them by taking away their phones and then discover it doesn’t matter because they are using their computer to stay in touch with the outside world.
You might want to remove the computer to be thorough and discover you can’t because they can’t turn in their assignments, participate in group projects or do other things for school that require the computer.
In theory you could sit next to them and make sure they only use the computer for school work but that means you Â have to give up your free time to make monitor things.
So you can do what I do and use Tasers, lasers and needles to inspire your kids to behave.
Ok, I don’t use Tasers or needles but lasers do shoot from my eyes, ask my kids.
The goodnight kisses might have mostly faded but I can still inspire a quicker step by glaring at them…sometimes.
These Changes Are Good
The changes I write about are good and so are my children.
I have worked hard to teach them to become self-sufficient and productive members of society. We have worked hard to help them become menschen, to be people of character.
And that includes having taught them to question themselves, adults and society.
I don’t want them to blindly do as others do any more than I want them to be so far removed from people they cannot get along.
The trick has always been how to help them figure out how to toe a line that never stops moving and when to cross it.
Given that I am not always certain where to place my feet or if the fingerholds I use to help pull me up the mountain are I shouldn’t be surprised if sometimes they mistep.
Dad’s Laser Focus
Saturday night I heard my kids talking about me and stopped what I was doing so that I could listen.
They commiserated about my laser focus on a few issues and asked each other if they had any insight as to why I do certain things.
I shouted some random words down the hall and they yelled back that what I said made no sense.
“Daddy, why did you do that?”
I smiled at my daughter and said I wanted their complaint to be factual.
“What do you mean?”
I laughed and told her that myÂ requestÂ to keep their rooms neater made a lot of sense and that clutter leads to chaos.
She rolled her eyes at me and asked me if I would always be so uptight about some things.
I nodded my head and walked back to the computer desk I am sitting at now.
The one that makes me crazy because it is too small and no matter what I do seems to be filled with clutter.
Later on that night my daughter called me to her room and told me she was going to sleep.
I didn’t make a big deal out of it and enjoyed some silent gratitude.
She told me a little about camp and asked me some questions about my day.
“Daddy, you are either silly or serious. There doesn’t seem to be much in between.”
“Do you think that is how I always am?”
“No, I think you are always thinking.”
“I am and it is usually about figuring out how to do more for your brother and you. Time moves quickly and I want to give you the best childhood I can. Sometimes I get preoccupied with it, that is why I get silly because it helps me stay in the present.”
She nodded her head and said she was ready to go to sleep.
“I kissed her goodnight, said I love you and walked out the door.
“I love you too daddy.”