I am not the best parent that I know, but after 6 years of being a father I have some experience. One huge change has been how much time it takes to be a parent. I know this because I watch how hard it is for my wife while I do my best to escape responsibilities and do what I want to do. But that was when we had one sweet little baby. Now, seemingly out of nowhere we have 3 children in 6 years. Number one was planned and the two “ whoopsie daisy’s” entered the world in a tornado of accumulating expense of parenting and a vortex of my special alone time being swallowed into a black hole of no return.
Everyday got more and more difficult. Our clothing styles went from “Cute and care free” to “wear it if it doesn’t smell like baby vomit”. My wife and I had lots of fights that had no conclusions just as they had no reason to start. We were just stretched thin and under slept.
But there was one day that I will never forget. It was the day I realized my 16-month-old Son had a natural desire to be a man. After that day my perspective completely changed and so did my life.
It was a beautiful cool spring day and my friend Matt and I were moving some furniture into my house. We were trading life war stories and making each other laugh while carrying a couch section into my house. I stopped when I saw out of the corner of my eye my little son stagger towards us. We “immediately said “look out buddy! “, but he walked up, reached as high as he could with his little hand and gripped onto the couch, waiting for us to start walking so he could help. I looked at Matt and immediately said “ God blessed me with a helper”.
For years I have had to do things by myself or with the assistance of a close friend. But I saw at that moment, that my son was a man, stuck in the confinements and limitations of a 3-foot, thin-framed body. From then on I looked at my life different. I was no longer just a father, I was a teacher.
These past 6 years I have watched other parents and how they interact with their kids. I noticed lots of caring parents that were full of caution with their kids. And wouldn’t include their children in their personal activities because they thought they were too young. For some reason I saw this as wrong. I understood it, but I had a growing man on my hands. So my son came with me wherever I went. If I felt like fishing, he came with. Before long his favorite toy was daddy’s tackle box. Which was riddled with un organized hooks. But it only took one little poke for him to realize hooks hurt. After that he would carefully separate and organize all my tackle. I got ridiculed by so many other parents for allowing a 2 year old to do this. But He was careful and was full of questions. All of which I loved answering as if he was an adult.
When hunting season came around, guess who was on my shoulders walking through the swamp as I slashed through palmettos with my machete. It didn’t take long till he was hacking away at some sticks and then became daddy’s machete holder while I searched for more hog tracks.
If the fish hooks were bad, you should have seen the disgusted and concerned looks I got when my 3 year old was yielding a machete. Soon as another parent would ask me if I was insane, I would tell them to just watch him and see what he does. And they all would end up saying, “ That’s pretty cool”. Because my superman son would carefully walk into the woods, find a branch that was in his way a handle the machete like a pro.
So now that we have entered year 4 of my young man’s life I would still say that I am not the best parent. But I have the best children. They constantly show me ways to guide them better by allowing them to show me what they are capable of.
And I find this out every time I spend one on one time with them individually. Because what I have learned through my kids is they don’t care about the newest toy they just want time with Mom & Dad, and I’m happy to say that I now want the same thing.
Story by A.J. Neste