Daddy Talk: Taking Initiative
With the holiday season come times to reflect on where we are in our lives and consider how far we have come over the last year. One of the ways that I’ve seen my kids grow is in their ability to take initiative for themselves and engage new experiences. I saw the first signs of this growth when we got the first holiday gift catalog of the season in the mail. My nine-year old grabbed it, immediately sat down at the table, and started circling all the items he wanted for Christmas.
“That’s the spirit!” I said, confident that we wouldn’t have to think very hard about gifts this year and that we’d be able to do all of our shopping at Target, the store that sent us this blessing of a catalog. The other kids soon realized what Isaac was doing at the table and took their own turns with the catalog. Satisfied at the ease of this process, I picked up the catalog after the smoke cleared and immediately realized that we should have become stockholders in Target some years ago. Or I should have simply asked them to cross out what they DIDN’T want from the catalog. It would have been easier that way.
But the decisive action the kids took on their Christmas wish lists was really just a first step toward more meaningful movement. Take, for example, health and fitness. During one of their final scout meetings of the fall semester, Isaac and Tanner learned that part of Isaac’s requirements in the spring would be to take a three-mile hike. On the way home, the boys debated how far three miles is and how long it would take to hike that far. I casually commented that when I jog in the mornings, I usually go three miles. The boys determined that they would jog with me the next morning to see how far three miles is. I told them that was probably a bad idea—it would be early, it was cold, and they had never gone that far. They assured me that they would be fine, set their own alarm clock, and then showed up by my bedside in full jogging apparel at 5:05 a.m. the next morning. We set out on the street and lasted all of five minutes before taking a break. But we did go ahead and stagger through a long loop in the neighborhood, probably going close to 2.5 miles total. The boys’ primary take-away in all of this? It is still dark out at 5:05 a.m.!
At least the jogging incident involved me. Sometimes parents find out later about new experiences their kids have when it probably would have been better if they had been present at the time. Take the possum encounter, for example, which was related to me by my four-year old. According to Lydia’s account, which was later corroborated by the boys, they were exploring the green space out behind our backyard while I was doing some yardwork. They had a couple of other neighbor kids with them as well as our two dogs. And come to think of it, I do recall Jett, the puppy, barking ferociously at some point in my memory that afternoon. The barking was a result of their happening upon a “sleeping” baby possum.
One of the boys diagnosed the possum as “not having rabies,” so the kids apparently played in close proximity and tried to engage the possum, who they named Baby Boo. Isaac even wrote a song about him, which Lydia can perform to this day. When I asked if Lydia had touched the possum, she said the boys had but that she had not—though she did poke him with a stick to see if he would “wake up.” Wake up? Stop playing dead? Having rabies? Baby Boo? Barking beagle? Part of me was glad that this event was a day in the past and not happening right now. But that’s not the responsible adult response, is it? I’m just chalking it up to another “new experience” and be glad that they weren’t just sitting on the couch watching Netflix.
Tim Krason avoids possums in Clinton, MS.