My son, Cole, turns nine years old today. It’s hard to say anything about parenting that’s not cliche. Talk about how good it is, and it’s all been said before. Try to be “edgy” and talk about the bad parts, and you’re still cliched and only telling half truths.
Anyway, it’s been a pleasure watching Cole grow up. He’s such a sweet kid. Smart too. He could stand to strive for some brevity in his story telling, and maybe add variety; but I think that’s an occupational hazard of being a kid.
For my part, being a Dad has renewed my curiosity about the world. Watching the kids learn about stuff sort of reminds me of when I had to get some foreign language credits in college. I’d taken a bunch of Spanish in middle school and high school, but I was never very good at it. I always felt like I was maybe a step behind. So, in college, rather than testing into an upper level class, I just started over. Part of this was just sandbagging, but it honestly gave me a better grip on the language. Going over the basics a second time when I wasn’t struggling to keep up helped solidify my grasp on the fundamentals.
Being a parent has had a similar effect in some respects. When they were learning to sleep, I gave more thought to how I slept. When they were learning to walk, run, and jump; I gave more thought to my mechanical skills. When I’m teaching them about math or social studies or whatever, I’m forced to describe these things using concepts they already understand. This does at least two things: 1) causes you to empathize with your child so you can crawl into their head and figure out what concepts they might know that you can use to help then understand; and 2) think about the concept and understand it sufficiently that you can describe it with those concepts.
So, nine years ago, I changed from non-parent to parent. I was fortunate in that I waited until I was more or less finished being an adolescent before becoming a parent. (In my case, it took me 32 years). Hopefully I’ve been good at it. Certainly it’s been good for me. Happy birthday, Cole!