As I talk with fathers one of the things I'm learning is how deeply lost so many of them feel. And we all know how badly men hate feeling lost! Unsure of themselves and wading through unfamiliar territory many men live with the nagging sense that they're fumbling a very important ball.
It's like playing the game hot potato. You pass the potato around in a circle and everyone handles the object as if it were on fire, quickly tossing it to the next person in line. Dad's are handed this new role and often they handle it like it's on fire, quickly trying to get it out of their hands to some other person down the line.
Fatherhood is a huge responsibility. I remember in high school one of my teachers telling us that whenever a person slept with someone else what they were saying is that they are ready to have children with them. Obviously this teacher was using this 'argument from consequences' to calm high school harmones. But the implication bears merit. Many men have sex without the thought of having a child. When they learn they've spawned a human they experience different emotions, some of which border on feeling lost. And men hate to feel lost.
Maybe this is why so many run from fatherhood because when they do put forth effort to be a dad they feel acutely their lack of competence and preparation. As corny as it is, the saying is true, "kids don't come with a manual."
Wanna know what I'm learning? I'm learning that if I can try to see the world through my children's eyes, I may begin to find clues to unlock the secret treasures of parenting. A man was once asked if there was anything he wished he'd done differently in parenting his children. He said, "I wish that I'd tried to see the world through my children's eyes instead of seeing it only through a parent's eyes."
After yesterday, I know what he means. Yesterday Nicole and I took our two youngest children along with us as we ran some errands. We parked outside a store and as I came around to take the hand of my 3 year old son Wesley, he was stomping his foot in a puddle.
He said, "I love puddles."
"You love puddles?" I replied.
"Yeah, dad." he said, "Puddles are for jumping!".
I was immediately struck by my son's worldview (or should I say 'waterview'). In Wesley's mind jumping went with puddles like eating goes with food. Wesley saw in those puddles an opportunity for fun. I saw them as obstacles to be avoided. He saw them as something to be stepped in. I saw them as something to be stepped over. Which one of us is right?
I remember a time when puddles were irresistable to me. Even when I got my license as a 16-year-old one of my favorite things to do was to drive my car through a big puddle. (Still love that!) But somehow as I've grown older I've lost my love for puddle jumping. Why? Because my shoes are leather...because I need to look neat and professional...because I don't like the feeling of wet shoes and pants...because if my feet get wet I'll catch a cold. The reasons in my adult mind are endless. But in that innocent moment with Wesley my reasons seemed like excuses.
Here's the point...Maybe if I can try to see the world through Wesley's eyes I might become a better dad to him. Next time I see a puddle, I think instead of jumping over it I'll jump in it. Then I can let you know if it makes me a better dad!
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