Almost seven years ago I watched a boy enter this world. The first words I spoke to him came easily, “Hello Wyatt, I’m your daddy.” From that moment I accepted the challenge that I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to his body, his mind, or his heart. Those days I expected that Wyatt would grow up with a nice easy going spirit, kind-heartedness, and peaceful disposition. And for the most part, I think he is, but you might get a different answer from the other parents at the playground. It amazes me what he can make into a gun. A sandwich, sticks, Legos, Tinker Toys, blocks, rocks, and hard dirt can all become playful killing tools. He’s like a child Macgyver.
Raising a boy is much more than being a zookeeper. It would be easy to toss him some meat and toys and shut the door and run for my life, but what fun would that be? Living with him is an adventure and just like in my previous blog about my daughter, I’ve got to try and not screw him up. Years from now I do not want to be the main topic of conversation as he speaks with his therapist. As a former boy, I can speak from experience that boys don’t want to be caged and forced into submission. The way a father is to make sure his boy becomes a good man is to lead by example. You can tell a boy how to act and give him punishments when he messes up, but being led is the way a boy works. It is easy to make him sit still for a long time, I can make him clean his room, I can make him not talk back, but where is the growth in that? Making him will only unravel at a later time.
Another way to lead by example is, by the way, I treat my wife. He is watching my every move and someday if he so chooses, he will have a family of his own. He’ll probably treat his wife and kids the way that I’ve treated mine. I’m his first teacher in everything. IN EVERYTHING. If in a moment of anger I speak or treat my wife in a way that isn’t right, the chance of my son behaving the same way increases. When I slip up in life, I risk my son slipping up later in life.
So what happens when I do mess up? I hate to break the news that I’m not perfect. Apologizing is also a way of growing properly. We all make mistakes on a daily basis. My son needs to learn that when he does mess up, he has to own up to it. Accepting one’s mistakes is as important as living a life to make sure they don’t happen, because that is impossible.
Being a parent is difficult, but I feel it can only be as hard as you let it. If you let it be a strenuous task, it will. If you let it be a joyous time, it will.