As I sit in front of my computer screen with time on my hands, I have chosen to write instead of playing Borderlands 2. When I don’t have time I truly desire to write. I have many sections left in the new book I am working on, a commitment to the newsletter each month, and a strong desire to put out a blog post each week. Why is it that when you are inspired, you never have time? Now I have the time and energy and I find myself drawn to the Xbox. I have chosen to write because I need to. I need to practice the self discipline. I need to build the habit of putting words to virtual paper to build the skill of being able to do it whenever I can. And because I hear Mordant’s voice in my head saying, “Dude.” I would rather be habitually creative than habitually lazy.
I keep a list of topic ideas and none of them have grabbed me, so I went to Facebook and asked you for your ideas. I find inspiration in connecting with people. Yet I can’t sit here and wait for someone to tell me what to do, right? So as I do when push comes to shove, I focus on the one thing I am the ultimate expert – myself. I am going to share with you my thoughts and let you inside the house of the bear.
Having four kids can be amazing. I never truly wake up and go, “Holy crap – I have four kids.” It seems like I should as it also seems right to go, “Holy foosball Batman, I have been married for over 12 years,” but I don’t. With the kids it is just right and feels like I have always had them. With my wife it feels like we have known each other forever (in the good way), that there is still so much to learn about her, and that we just started dating last year. I always feel so young and energetic around her. Did you know it still means the world to me when I can make her laugh? There are definitely times when I get mad, and times when I let her down; but I still make her the most important person in the room and try oh-so-hard to impress her with everything I do. Sometimes I forget that and even worse, let her forget it. I ultimately succeed because I live the truth of “I would rather win the love of my wife everyday than focus on the mistakes.”
Making each of the kids feel individual and special would be difficult, you would think. Cutting out one on one time, avoiding jealousies, and getting quiet time isn’t easy, but it just takes work and awareness. Right now set 2 (my 20 month old and 3 month old) is young enough to go to sleep early. Yeah, my wife and I are practical in our language around the house. Set 1, my oldest two, are 18 months apart in age. Set 2 is the youngest two, also 18 months apart in age. Ok, I will get back to the first parenting thing I was thinking of in a min. So let’s talk communicating with kids.
My wife and I made some rookie mistakes starting out. We played the societal game of “let’s stop cussing since we have a kid.” And good money was wagered by others that I would teach the kids bad words first. Well, they lost that one because my wife, who focused on not being the one, was the one. I was so happy that day to hear that our son’s first bad words were riding in the car with her and repeating what she said to another driver. Of course, unintentionally I went on to teach him worse words in worse situations. But what we truly learned was to teach my kids responsibility. We very quickly started teaching the correct place and time for words.
From that lesson and others we have always decided to tell our kids the truth on a level they can understand. I enjoy a good beer, a great scotch, and a fine cigar (amongst other things) from time to time. We explained to the kids as they become aware of it that these things are for adults, they can choose for themselves later, and that some people do not like such activities. We found that using some false sense of innocence or ignorance was only going to be detrimental. We also explained gay love, have them call their genitalia by its proper name, taught them the basics of childbirth, and that there is no Santa Claus. Every kid grows up feeling different no matter how hard people might try to make them the same. We are teaching a celebration of difference no matter how it comes about. So yeah, we openly call them set 1 and set 2. I would rather have honest foul-mouthed kids than naive ignorant ones.
Back to where I started and I will get to the point. There is no magic bullet, prayer, or recipe for raising the perfect child. I feel like it comes down to being aware of the situation and paying attention. We are finding small ways to give each kid attention, seeing what makes them different and accommodating those differences, and changing the game plan to fit the bigger picture. I feel like if you set ultimate goals for your children (like be strong in character, happy, healthy, etc.), you can course correct as time goes by. But if you set a goal for today then you are stuck in a pretty finite pattern. I know that currently with four kids all being small, jealousy to one degree or another is unavoidable. I also know that I spend time with them individually doing what they love. Those memories will build up over time and the momentary jealousy fades away.
Overall, parenting and/or being a husband is like any other game you play. You watch the patterns and learn as you go. Try anything that feels right to see if it works, and don’t be afraid to stop the things that don’t feel right. In sports, the more you practice the better you will be. And just like sports you won’t truly know your skill level or success until later in your career. And something witty about finding strong partners and playing hard.
Ok, I am out of witty retorts and sage advice. I want to say on a slightly different note that I have been connecting to more people on a deeper level this week. There have been some really awesome moments of knowing that I have truly been helping people. That is another great level to my journey of living the dream. I will try to write about that soon. You are what inspire me everyday and knowing I can be a part of your journey is amazing. I would rather rejoice with you than suffer alone.
Please send me your questions or topics to Charles@successfreaks.com
Now the Xbox and a snack are calling.