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The Ever Evolving Dad

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Evolution is real.   I know there is a giant battle between Christians, non-Christians, and scientists about the age of the earth, whether humans descended from apes, how giraffes got their long necks, or how a big bang put the earth and the other planets into place.  I am a Christian; I believe God created the earth, not some proteins smacked together really hard; and there are some things that just require faith, so I don’t need to know how old the earth is.  Do your own research and come up with your own conclusions.  But that’s not the point I am trying to make.

 

I am talking about the evolution or progression of people, everyday people like you and I.  I used to be really dumb.  Now I’m only kind of dumb, because I say things without being very informed, mostly regarding politics, and I often don’t plan very well but complain that things didn’t happen the way I would have liked them to.  And when I say “I used to be” I mean when I was a teenager.  I think anyone now in their 30s or older would look back at their teenage years and ask “What was I thinking?” or maybe even “Why didn’t I think that one through?”

 

Well, this became apparent at Thanksgiving dinner.  First, earlier in the day on Thanksgiving, I put up the Christmas lights on the house with Zoey’s help, who is 5 and a half.  I was wrapping lights around a palm tree by collapsing the ladder and leaning it against the tree.  I let Zoey climb the ladder and put up some other lights on the house, and now she asked me to do the tree ones.  I said no because the ladder was not stable.  She was bummed, but I told her maybe next year because then she’ll be 6 and a half, which is close to 7, which is probably old enough with my help.  That’s when it hit me that Tasha’s cousin, who is now a senior in high school, was 8 when Tasha and I met.  And now Zoey is not that far away from that age.

 

Wow.  Mind blown a little on how time flies.

 

So at Thanksgiving dinner, the “kids” table happened to be Tasha, myself, Tasha’s cousins-the one I just mentioned and his younger sister who is a sophomore in high school-and some of their friends who are in high school, too, complain and moan about dumb teachers who are so boring, or don’t have lives, or make homework hard, or classmates who are dumb and spoiled.  It was a riveting and scintillating conversation to hear.  I was trying to be enlightened and watch Jay Cutler and the Bears get creamed by Clay Mathews and the Packers, but, alas, the Bears prevailed spoiling Brett Favre’s jersey retirement.

 

But I digress.  I also got to hear Tasha’s cousin “spit bars” and say he was going to skip college, make a mixtape with his friends and become a rapper.  I told him to Google Chet Hayes, who is Tom Hanks’ son who thinks he, too, can be a rapper.  He and Tasha’s cousin might have a chance of being a wrapper, gift wrapper that is.  Ha Ha ha!  I’ll be here all week!  Good luck, kid.

 

But wait a minute!  I was 15, 16, and 17 once.  Maybe I was like that too with, seemingly, absurd career aspirations?  Nah!  Or was I?

 

I was, and I realized that as I sat there listening to these teenagers ramble on about their classmates and teachers.  It’d be interesting to see in 10-15 years after a couple of more years under their belts having lived life away from home, hopefully, and possibly having started their first job, maybe started a family of their own, or, the ultimate burn, they are teachers themselves.  They might be thinking reading this (I doubt they’re reading this), “No way, man.  No way am I going to be a boring teacher.  I’m going to be a doctor or lawyer or engineer, or something cool.”  Yup.  Life is that simple.

 

Comedian Nick Swarsdon has a bit talking about what would happen if people had to become the very first thing they thought of to be when they grew up.  He says it would be crazy because there would be ninjas, princesses, and race car drivers running the world.  You can look up his stand up on YouTube on your own.  It isn’t exactly family friendly, so I am not going to post a link.

 

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with being doctors, lawyers, or engineers, or ninjas, princesses, and race car drivers, for that matter.  And there is nothing wrong with dreaming to be any of those things, even rappers.  I remember being that age and having that perspective.  I think about that often when I talk to Tasha’s cousins:  that it wasn’t all that long ago that I dreamed similar dreams for my career, or had a similar perspective on my teachers, or had every word to say about my classmates.  In fact, I have every word to say about a couple of my coworkers without having the perspective of their point of view or taking any time to get to know them or walk in their shoes.  And when I was in high school, I didn’t want to be a rapper, but there was a period of time I wanted to be and thought I could be a professional snowboarder without putting in 10,000 hours.  Maybe not as far-fetched, but just as unlikely.  Possible but not probable, as a professor of mine would say.

 

Life is a process and a journey.  I hope this isn’t the first place you hear that the best part of life isn’t the destination but the process and the journey of finding out who you are.  I went to college with the aspirations of becoming a dentist.  I’m glad that didn’t work out.  I would probably have been okay at the dental work part, but the part of working with patients and the part of trying to get them to do the work they needed to be healthy would drive me crazy.  I would probably take it too personal and drill a little too hard.  It also wasn’t too long ago I thought about getting my Ph.D.  I’m glad that also didn’t work out.

 

So this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for personal growth, that it’s possible, that there’s a choice we can all make.  We all can choose to evolve with our circumstances or not.  Roll with the punches.  That in all aspects of life-mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual-we are all in process learning and, hopefully, learning from each other how to be human.

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“You Don’t Know Anything, Daddy!”

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We all know moms have it together.  Even if they don’t, they play it off a lot better than dads do. Dads, you’ll have to give a testimonial about yourself and your own spouse, but my wife is the planner, coordinator, mediator, and arbitrator for the family.  When we go to Legoland, she has it planned out the lunches and snacks to pack up, the clothes to wear later in the day when the sun goes down, and how to get the kids back in the wagon when my technique of “Get back in the damn wagon or we’re going home!” doesn’t work.  Mind you, that confrontation likely has happened just after parking the car.

No more apparent than one morning I walk the girls to school. Zoey is in her first year at kindergarten, and Haley is in preschool.  We are in line at Zoey’s class, and her teacher opens the door to let the kids in saying, “Everyone have their baggies?”  I panic and walk over to Zoey’s backpack she hung up on her hook to look for her baggie, which has her vocabulary words to help them learn to read.  Nothing.  Another dad in line next to me immediately asked her daughter if she had her baggie.  Glad I was not the only one, however, we still didn’t have our daughter’s baggies.  So we ask the teacher, “We don’t have their baggies.  How important is that for learning, really?”

We got lucky:  the teacher told us it was Wednesday and our daughter’s day is not until Friday…which is labeled on the baggie.

At least I’m not the only dad who doesn’t know anything.

Keep in mind, I’ve never been much of a planner; I’m a follower by nature so coordinator isn’t the role for me, and I don’t have a lot of empathy for others so that also leaves arbitrator and mediator out.  It also helps that Tasha has to deal with people all day long, so she knows how to manage them and their emotions.  She is usually a couple steps ahead when planning stuff out, whereas I would panic the day or two before, if I’m lucky, and ask what is going on with this thing or the other.  Her planning and foresight is going to come in very handy when the girls get older and need help with their science project.  I can plan certain things, but I only have the capacity to handle one thing about 2 weeks in advance.  She’s got the whole thing mapped out in her mind.

Guys, your wife Superwoman like this?  Yeah?  Well, we’re lucky, so go buy your spouse some flowers today.  You’re welcome, ladies.

When you get married, if you haven’t already started to and people haven’t told you to, being selfish and only thinking about yourself needs to stop.   Well, it should.  It is hard to do when you’re married to one of these Superwoman types, because you don’t really have to worry about anything and you can go around just worrying about what is going on with the Chargers or the Ducks and the trades they made or who’s going on IR.  This is why I don’t take my wife for granted and why I workout but even that is for both of us:  We both want something pretty to look at (that means I am vain and self-centered and she likes my abs and arms before you start thinking I don’t think my wife is pretty.  She’s beautiful).

Obviously, this is not 100% true.  Someone has to do the laundry (me), the dishes (me), putting away toys (mostly me), but this is because she is either getting them ready for school or bed and reading stories (get my Guyde to see how to watch your TV shows or movies while your spouse manages the kids).  But most of the important things, Tasha is taking care of.  I help with the school work, but only after she has explained to me thoroughly what needs to be done.  If I am anything like my dad, which I am realizing I am exactly like, soon Tasha is going to explain the girls’ homework to them, she’s going to ask me to help them, but Zoey and Haley will be explaining their homework to me.  Yes, I am going to be completely useless.  Little do they know I am just using a tactic that my professor taught:  “If you need to learn about something, try and teach it to someone else.”  So I do what I can, but the heavy lifting is done by my wife.

Sometimes I play this up to get a laugh out of my kids.  I have the role of getting the girls ready for school in the morning, which includes waking them up, making them breakfast, making them eat their breakfast, getting them dressed, then walking them to school.  I think I have the harder job, but Tasha reminds me she has to do the same thing at dinner time, so I guess we’re even.  Anyway, since my kids are young at 5 and 3, the last thing they want to do at mealtime is eat.  Tasha being the good negotiator sings a little song at each bite if the girls are being extra difficult.  I don’t and have less consistent results.  So I make their food, then make my food, and while I’m making my food, I am barking reminders at them to keep eating. It usually takes about 5-8 reminders to complete breakfast.  They like to take turns with their bites of food, so one bite eggs, one bite cereal or toast, one sip of milk: Round 1.  Repeat.

This goes on and on, all the while I am barking reminders, and I don’t remember the order or which step they are on.  So I might say, “Take a bite of toast,” or “Take a sip of milk now.”  But the clock is also ticking and they still need to get dressed, brush teeth, and comb their hair and I still need to take a shower and get dressed myself.  So the barking ramps up, and that gets me confused:  “Take a bite of your milk and a sip of your bread!”

What?

It works though.  The girls look at me with a puzzled look, we laugh, and eat or drink something.  I do that enough times, usually 2-3, and this prompts Haley to say, “You don’t know anything, Daddy!”
You’re right, Sweetie.

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