“Raising Fisk's: Being The Dad
I Always Wanted.”
One of the things I wanted to do for a while is correct some behavior with my sons and at the spend some quality time with them.
First, these kids are a little too much like their dad, if you know what I mean. They're a little smart mouthed and, being boys, extremely active. Getting them to do what I ask has been getting more and more difficult without threatening to take something away from them that's important or even a spanking (reserved only for the worst behavior, of course).
Second, they're growing up way too fast. I have a hard time believing that Coppertop is almost seven years old, and H-Bomb (my youngest son) is going to be five this August. Simultaneously I'm going to turn 40 between their birthdays, and I'm having another synchronicity of milestones here. I don't want to miss anything special with these boys, and we need some more quality time together.
Little did I know that by solving the second problem, I would solve the first.
Flashback 35 years or so: I never got to spend enough time with my dad because of my parents divorce, and I feel that someone was cheated out of something. Something vague... because I didn't know what I was supposed to be getting. I always thought that the kids who had good dads were better off because they seemed to be stronger characters and just knew how to do more "stuff" with more confidence.
Those of us who didn't have regular dads were either effeminate, eccentric, or too strong (bullies) because we were over-compensating. You knew the kids who had good dads versus the kids who didn't by their behavior and interests. I sure don't want my kid to be the one who shows up to school everyday with a home-made superhero costume who honestly believes that he's secret love-child of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
Most of my roll models were in black and white movies wearing fedoras or space cowboys saving the universe with lots of bravado. What I want for my kids to have them look up to someone real. Who also wears a fedora and could kick some alien ass if I had to. (With their mom, my favorite femme fatal by my side.)
So, at 9:30 AM I shut everything off - computer, TV, stereo - and got dressed in some old clothes and took the two boys out with me to the south end of our property and the three of us went to work clearing some of the wood that was still there after the ice storm this past December.
I had always admired people who could use an ax to cut up wood while at the same time be slightly intimidated by the tool. When you think "ax" you often think of "ax murderer," and I sometimes flash back to the grizzly stories of that other men told of slipping and cutting themselves, often going right through the Tibia or Fibula. But there I was, with my two sons watching at a safe distance as I had the wood standing on end just before I came down on it with my super-sharp long handled hatchet or my extra heavy ax. Coppertop and H-Bomb would take bets on how many whacks or strokes I would take to split the wood. I would swing, hit the wood, and they would cheer when the two halves would go in their own directions.
Then we would load up the wheel barrow while I used the chain saw to cut the larger trunk into sections. The boys would follow me to the pile by our campfire ring where I dumped the contents. They rode back in the wheel barrow as the process started over again. The three of us took breaks once in a while serving each other chocolate milk or spraying each other down with squirt guns. We had nachos for a late lunch and couldn't wait to get back outside to continue working.
At the end of the day, we were dragging our heels. The three of us were exhausted as we put our tools away. My fedora was pushed back towards the back of my head exposing my whole forehead. I was worn out and I could tell they were, too.
So, as I relax here after we've all had our showers, the boys ate their desert before having dinner and they unwind with one of their favorite movies - I'm thinking about what DIDN'T happen today.
Not once did I yell at my boys, I didn't have to tell them twice to do something or to keep a safe distance. There was a lot of laughter and teasing - cheers when I split a thick log with one whack or when either one of them were able to "make a basket" when they tossed a split log into the barrel. There were their shrieks of joy when I ran while pushing the wheel barrel with them in it, or when the dog shook herself dry after we sprayed her down with the water pistols and buckets of water while taking care of Blacky the duck.
The three of us had a fantastic day with out any interceptions from the internet or distractions from the TV. None of us raise a voice in anger and we helped each other do a monumental task for someone their age. I was their hero for the day, and my swelling heart more then makes up for my aching muscles and sore joints.
All my boys needed was some attention from their dad...
As a quick epilogue - I didn't realize that this week was National TV Turnoff week, and today is National TV Turn-Off day. I can't tell you how important it is to keep the media at bay for as long as possible. There are so many distractions for both children and adults and there's a time when we all (including myself) need to just shut everything down and experience the real world. If you have to feel "connected" after the TV and Internet is off, bring a camera and share with all of us your experience once you return to the forum.
Are you a better parent because or in spite of your own parents?