October 23, 2008

With kids, take time to enjoy adventure of every moment

From the Oct. 23 issue of the Homer News:

I have two sons – Gabe and Otto.

Gabe will turn 13 next week and in many ways, he’s already a typical teenager. He talks on the telephone a lot, mostly to girls. He’s pretty conscious of his cool-ness level, spending a lot of time tweaking his wardrobe and engaging in an annoying habit he’s recently developed – flipping his hair out of his eyes every ten seconds like an uncontrollable sufferer of Tourette syndrome.

Gabe is also an intelligent, strong, courteous and compassionate young man who works hard at his studies and isn’t too cool – yet – to help his folks out around the house. I’m very proud of him.

Otto is 15 months old. He has a vocabulary consisting of five words – mama, dada, ball, dog and book – and likes to spend his time eating bananas and putting Legos in the toilet.

I love my sons, as every father loves his children, and I love being their dad. I didn’t set out to have two boys 12 years apart – it just kind of worked out that way.  I wouldn’t change anything about my experiences as a dad, however, as I’ve learned a lot from it and continue to learn all the time.

There’s an old parenting cliché that you’ve probably heard whether you’re a parent or not: something to the effect of  “don’t miss the moments” of childhood or, in other words, be sure to fully appreciate every stage of development your child is going through.

I’ve always thought “don’t miss the moments” was a sappy, Hallmark card-worthy sentiment. Don’t all parents appreciate their kids?

If you are a parent, however, you know it’s almost impossible to not look forward to “missing the moment” of changing another full diaper and it’s hard to resist looking forward to the day your toddler can use the toilet for something other than a Lego depository.

As with many clichés, there’s a ring of truth to “don’t miss the moments,” and it took having another child for me to truly understand it.

It’s true that, when Gabe was younger, I probably missed some childhood moments looking forward to his next step. When he was a small and helpless newborn, I couldn’t wait for him to walk and talk. When he was finally walking and talking, I longed for the day he could throw and catch a football so we could go play out in the yard. And when he could do that, I dreamt of life stages on down the road – his first day of school, his first girlfriend, teaching him to drive, attending his graduation and seeing him off to college.

Having Otto around has made me appreciate Gabe more, and vice versa. Although I try not to compare the two boys, and they are very different, Otto reminds me of how cute and fun Gabe was when he was little – I miss him calling me “daddy” and sitting in my lap for story time – and how far he has come in his development toward adulthood.

It’s not that I completely missed his childhood. It’s just that maybe I rushed it along a little bit. He’s about to turn 13 and, even though he may resist it, I think I can help. I remember what it was like to suffer through the seventh grade, to be suddenly confronted with girls and growth and changes all around – to be aware of the natural longing to step forward into adulthood while knowing you have much to learn.

Watching Gabe grow into a man makes me appreciate where Otto is in his life, as well.

With little Otto, it’s mostly about the ceaseless entertainment of watching him toddle around the house like a drunken sailor, exploring his world with reckless abandon. I absolutely love his zest for life and for learning, not to mention his boundless energy. Otto is my little adventurer.

I plan to enjoy very minute.


clark said...

i told one of the kids when he was 12 that i felt like i had experienced a remarkable transformation. that a mere nine years before, i was the leader of the free world and in posession of all of the important information and cosmic truths that had ever been invented. and somehow in nine short years [and without really changing much at all] i had arrived at the point where i'd become a bumbling middle aged guy who needed constant advice and assistance lest i foul everything up.
you're lucky to get a second shot at stopping this downward spiral.

Anonymous said...