Being a Dad…the best role I've ever had.

Posts tagged ‘son’

It’s the little things that matter

Sometimes, the most wonderful thoughts can be triggered by the smallest of things.  Even when you’ve had a long, tiring day, one little thing can make you forget all of it.  Such a thing happened to me.

Before I go one, lets go back in time a bit.

In 2013, two life changing events happened to me: I lost my job of 16 years and, my wife gave birth to my second child.

Alexander was born six months before I got laid off.  During those six months, I missed out on a lot, you know, the early, early infant stuff…rolling over, trying to crawl, etc.

Then, as the middle of summer approached, I got word that I was being laid off, you know, my position was terminated. That’s a smoke screen statement, but that’s another story.

Anyway, being laid off with benefits was a blessing: I got to spend a lot of time with my family, my newborn especially.  Watching him develop over the nine months or so before I got another job was just awesome.  The smiling, the joy, the wonder. It was truly a special time.  Then…

Work.

I got a job that was an hour and twenty minutes from home.  I got up at the crack of dawn and was home at sundown.  I missed a lot.  By the time I would get home, my step son was going to bed and Alexander was played out for the day. My wife would be beat. But, it was work and we needed it.  Badly.

Less than a year later, though, I got a local job. More money, less wear and tear on the car, but, more importantly, it took, maybe, 20 to 25 minutes to get to work or come home. Less time if the traffic was light.   I got to see more of my family. And Alexander.

Now, by this point, Xander is walking and talking and into everything.  The terrible two’s. He turned three in 2016 and…got even more devilish. But, that’s OK. For all of the screaming he does, getting into things, throwing…well, he has his cutesy, sweet moments too.

Coming home from work is a treat.  I get the biggest, best greeting from him. He is genuinely happy to see me.  All of the negatives melt away when he runs up to me, throws his arms around me and yells ‘Dadddeeeeee!’  And, the icing on the cake…I get nice kiss from my beautiful wife.

During his more calm moments, he wants to sit with me, play a game with me, share in his love of all things Spongebob (what is it about that cartoon? My 19 year old grew up on it, as did my eight year old step son and, now, Xander…) and the occasional book reading.

So, that moment I started out talking about?  Well, tonight, I was sitting on the couch, my back hurting and trying to get my head around a couple of things when Xander crawls up on my lap. He had my wife’s phone, watching YouTube.  He finds these videos of some idiot unwrapping toy filled things or videos of games, usually Minecraft. He thinks they are so funny.  He found one of a train based game.  He says ‘Daddy, I want to play this game’.  I told him I would see if I could find and put it on his Tablet (yes, my three year old has his own tablet, an Ellipse from Verizon…kidified.) He says ‘OK, fanks.’ He gives me a one handed hug and goes back to the video.  Then, he stops. Puts the phone down. Looks at me, pauses…then gives me a raspberry!  He giggled and giggled and giggled.  Picks up the phone and continues to watch the video. Well, I’m dying inside…I could not hold back and laughed out loud.  He looks at me, smiles, and then gave me a big hug.

That look on his face…it was priceless.  Not only did it make me feel like the world’s greatest dad, but it made me realize that this is what it is about.  While jobs make our lives work, it is the kids that are most important.  These little moments are fleeting and I sure hope I don’t miss them. Ever.

I…was wrong

Sometimes, being a parent also means being wrong. We all like to think that we make good, sound judgments, especially where our children are concerned. Well, being a parent also means that you are human and you do, like it or not, make mistakes.

I am far from a perfect father. I have made many mistakes and been wrong many times. Likely, this is a pattern that repeat itself.  Not on purpose, but, no doubt, it will. When I am wrong, I can admit it.  Sometimes, though, it is hard to do so, especially when one thinks one is doing the right thing.

Recently, my fifteen year son missed quite a bit of time from high school due to illness. My son has an autoimmune issue that causes him to get sick frequently and it generally takes him longer to recover.  In the past, he has been very diligent about making up his work and staying on top of his grades.

Chase is a wonderful son. Pretty responsible and is one who knows right from wrong. I credit his late mother and grandfather with much of his character. I like to think I had a hand in there as well. He doesn’t drink, do drugs, run around with out letting us know where he is and, most important, has empathy, something many young adults sorely lack.

Given his responsible nature, we decided not to hound him (as we have in the past) about making up his work and doing what he can to stay current at school.  Unfortunately, he didn’t do as well as we had assumed he would and he fell behind. As a result, his grades faltered.

Naturally, I felt partly responsible for this…I should have been monitoring him more than I did. That said, he should have kept up. The work he was missing was not that much, but I thought that his teachers would not allow or could not allow him to make it up. Well, they did and he finished within a weeks time. As he was grounded until he made it up, he had a lot of incentive.  At the end of the week, he had made it up.  Since then, my wife and I have been checking the web site where the teachers post his grades, assignments, etc.

Once again, he got sick and missed a few days.  As a result, his grades in three classes plummeted and, suddenly, there were assignments – some from the previous nine weeks – showed up as missing. I confronted him about them and he told me that he had already done much of it and that the teachers had not yet entered his grades. I, however, did not believe him and thought he was just telling me what he thought I would want to hear.

So, I fired off some emails to the teachers involved.  I got responses. Now, before I go on, let me say that I do, in fact, trust my son. When he was grounded, I did not take physical possession of his computer or iPhone. I knew that he would do I told him.  I knew that he respects us enough to follow our rules and instructions.  This knowledge, however, seemed to elude me for a moment.

Sure enough, the teachers had accepted and graded most of the work (some of it requires him to be at the school, which he is doing) but had not entered it into the school’s system.

Imagine how small I felt. I had got so worked up over the poor grades that I forgot who my son was and assumed the worst. Not only had I, indirectly, let my son know that I had not trusted him, I believed a freaking web site over my kid’s word.  I felt absolutely horrible. I did apologize to him, but it seems inadequate. How do I convey to my son that I do trust him, yet take the results on a screen to heart more than his words? Simple. Just don’t believe the damned screen.

So, I was wrong. So wrong here. I should trust that my son is still on top of things and just use the web site for guidance and not gospel. As for grades, maybe we should not put as high of importance on them that we forget the ones who are attaining those grades.

Being Dad

xander_spock_paintingI have been a father for fifteen years now.  I have two sons and one stepson.  They are 15, 5, and six weeks. Yep, six weeks. At the young age of 47, I have started over this whole Dad thing.

I still remember when my late wife informed me that she was pregnant. I was still mostly asleep.

“Honey, I’m pregnant.”

“Honey!”

“That’s nice dear!”

“Did you hear me? I’m pregnant!”

That was nearly sixteen years ago. Last summer, my wife says “Honey, I’m pregnant! I’m not crazy!”

My reaction, this time, was a bit more lively. Tears ensued and, well, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.  Just like that moment, sixteen years ago when it finally struck me that I was going to be a Dad.

Until I met and married my first wife, being a father was the last thing on my mind. I was a horny geek. I only cared about geek stuff and sex.  Funny thing, once the sex entered the picture, I didn’t even care about the geek stuff.

I was a late bloomer when it came to dating.  Awkward and inexperienced. I had no idea as to what to do or how to act.  Again, being a father was something I had not given a second thought. I was a typical guy, I suppose. Dating and all that comes with it was fun and exhausting. I had a couple of ‘long’ relationships, even thought one was going to be ‘it’. It wasn’t, but that is OK.  It would not be long before I found ‘it’. She was cute, funny and someone I took to right away.

And, once I realized that this cute, funny woman was someone I wanted to settle down with, then I began to think. Maybe this family thing was something I wanted. Yeah, maybe so. We talked about it, a lot. We decided we wanted to be in our own house before raising a child. Almost six years went by…

Fast forward to 1997 when my first son was born.

Suddenly, I had this wonderful little person to help care for.  It was rough at times, for Chase was colicky and, once we got that under control, he started getting sick. A lot. As time went on, we found out that he had an autoimmune problem. He could not produce enough white blood cells to fight off anything. As he got older, it got worse and we ended up having to give him infusions once a month. It worked, and his immune system got much better.

Today, he still gets sick, but not as often and not as long as he used to.

In 2010, Chase’s mother passed away. She died from pneumonia, but had been sick for quite some time.  It was quite a shock to both of us, but Chase was my bedrock and we got through it.

Through Facebook, a relationship with someone blossomed and, last year, I married her.  She is a beautiful, vibrant and all around awesome lady. And, best of all, she puts up with me.

Preston, my wife’s son from a previous marriage, is a smart and full of energy five year old.  Like Chase, Preston is a scary smart kid.  Preston needs little in the way of instruction when it comes to electronic devices. He can grasp certain ideas (but, like any child, there are some that go over his head, like listening to parents) and has an excellent grasp of the English language.  He is lucky in that he has not one, not two but three parents who care deeply for him and spend the time with him.

Xander, our six week old, is just so damned sweet. So sweet, you just want to eat him up, figuratively, of course.  I cannot wait to experience the firsts again, to watch him figure out what those things are that he keeps flailing. To watch him experience solid foods. Take him to his first movie. Watch him walk.  Watch him develop. And, I cannot wait to ride his first rollercoaster.  I got to do that with Chase and Preston. It was very special. I still remember riding one, for the first time, with my Dad. It was the Scooby Doo at Kings Dominion near Richmond.  I remember the Jet Star at the State Fair.  I don’t know why, but the rollercoaster experience seems very special to me and I cannot wait to do so with Xander.

Being a Dad has its downs as well. Having to correct them is never fun. Especially when you know they are fully capable but were just careless. Teaching them that there will be consequences in life for ones actions is, perhaps, the most difficult part of parenting.

Perhaps being able to tell when they need guidance and help is also a difficult aspect.  I know I’ve had issues with it. Both our five and fifteen year old have needed certain help and I was slow to recognize that. But, we have gotten over that. At least, I hope we have. As with anything in life, one never can be certain but you hope you do the best for them.

I hope my sons know I am there for them. It may not always seem like it, but I am. Just as my wonderful wife is, so am I. 

Trying to maintain a balance with the kids, my wife and my own needs is very tricky. Sometimes I am selfish, I know.  I try my best not to be, but I know I don’t always succeed. My bride sometimes lets me know, but, for the most part, she puts up with me and does not complain. She is awesome.

With all it entails, I cherish the role of Dad. I would not trade it for anything in the world.

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