What do your kids know about you? What do they know about anything other than themselves?
Kids are of course naturally selfish and why shouldn’t they be. Everything is about them and their worlds. What they want. What they need. We, the parents, in many ways are literally servants to their every whim, at least as far as they are concerned. That’s the way it should be. They will learn humility and selflessness along the way. Sharing. Compromising. Nobody is born with those skills and traits. Somewhere along the way, we learn it (at least most of us do in some form).
Not too long ago when I came home from work one day, my girls asked me how work was that day. Daddy, what did you do at work today? Well…alright…I guess I can do that…I’m not really prepared to explain what I do when I go to “work” every day. Its not nearly as ominous as it sounds but for 3 years I haven’t really discussed anything other than kid-related things with them.
There is no reason to make up stories about how I spent the day climbing up the side of a castle to rescue the damsel in distress or how I swam across the moat of alligators on my way to slay the dragon. Instead, I said something like, “Well, today I worked on upgrading Rails 3.0.7 to Rails 3.1.0, release candidate 1.” First, I find it entertaining to talk to my kids as if they were contemporaries. Second, I wondered what their reaction would be. Interestingly enough, Julianna responded with “Why?” and Chloe responded with a grin on her face as if she was saying, “Daddy, I have no idea what you are talking about and I probably never will so I’ll grin and make you think that I’m happy for you.”
So Julianna wanted to know Why. Fine. How nerdy will they let me get. I started to explain some of the benefits to upgrading our technology stack and why it was important to stay cutting edge and I was really looking forward to trying out the new Asset Pipeline and playing around with Sass and CoffeeScript.
The nodding you are doing with your head at me right now is almost exactly what she was doing, combined with the Chloe “I don’t care but I’ll nod my head to make you feel good” grin. Its fun. I even got to recently take both girls to work with me for a “Bring Your Kids To Work Day”. Since then, Julianna has asked if she could come to my work again sometime soon and they both like to see office buildings that they think look similar to mine and ask if its Daddy’s office.
I don’t believe this to be profound stuff by any means. Its the development of a sense of others that I find fascinating.
In a few days, I’m reluctantly participating in a charity softball tournament. I used to play a lot of sports when I was younger but not recently. Where this event is supposed to be fun and will be, apparently some people still want to win so I suppose I’ll have to be a bit competitive/serious. What will my kids think? Maybe they’ll think its fun to see me on the field. Maybe they’ll think its fun-ny to see me run (like my wife who still reminds me of how funny she thought it was the first time she saw me run – probably because I run like a gazelle; a gazelle who has 3 legs and a bad back).
Who knows…it turns out I’ve been very content to have everything about my interactions with my kids be about them. We are entering into a new stage of discovery now that I’m equally nervous and excited about.
There’s never been a better time to teach them how to correctly strike out in a slow pitch softball game.
Its a tough job but someone has to do it.