What the hell am I teaching him…
We got two packages delivered by UPS yesterday, big boxes filled with little items and topped off with a veritable bounty of foam peanuts to which James Arthur exclaimed: Whoooooaaaaaaaaahhh Yuk at da, yuk at da, yuk… (which is toddler speak for WOW I’ve never seen anything like this but I love it but I don’t know what to call it but WOW).
My thoughts were already tainted by the fact that the packages were 10% item and 90% peanuts so when he went to dive in I got upset and told him no. I didn’t understand why I was telling him no I just didn’t want him to play with the very playable peanuts. I mean there are some practical applications to the nuts and it’s easy to see why a child would want to play all day with these things, just not my child!
So what’s the story? What’s the problem? Sally and I discussed our opinions on it ( I should mention that the opinions were discussed while he was neck deep in a box of peanuts) and we differ on our beliefs. She says if she had to think about what was wrong with a box of foam peanuts she’d have to think about what’s wrong with everything and she asked if I could just be present with him in his joy of playing. I asked her if she thought there was anything wrong with teaching him that these peanuts are ok to have in the world and that I could see how simply being present with would allow me to view the peanuts and the boy in a different light.
She took some pictures. It was super cute. But I can’t get over the thought that my boy is playing in toxic waste…I guess it’s ok though – as long as he’s having fun!
Today while spending time with my son it hit me. I’ve been seeing him differently lately (that’s not what hit me) and I think it’s a combination of seeing myself differently and him becoming more “human”. He’s been talking more and we’ve actually been communicating with words, there is understanding like there’s never been before. I can get his attention (sometimes) and actually use words to explain what I’d like him to do and, astonishingly, he seems to understand me; I think this because generally he ends up doing what I ask him. This process of communication is, I think, a natural separation for father and son, for parent and child, a separation that not many recognize. Which brings me back to what hit me today.
My son loves the big green John Deere tractor at the farm we call home. He’s both curious about the big machine with all the levers and moving parts and scared, “It’s Youd!” (toddler speak for “it’s loud”). Daddy (that’s me) drives the big green tractor for different reasons and son gets to experience this either by watching from a distance or, if the circumstance is right, riding in the cab. Today daddy wasn’t going to drive but son had it in his budding mind that he wanted to see the tractor, so off we went before my “adult” life started for the day, father and son taking the walk to the garage where the big green tractor is kept. He wanted me to pick him and I told him that it was nice day for a walk so he walked without further discussion.
We arrived, opened the garage door and I delighted at his excitement voiced in exclamations of the obvious; he climbed up with some help from daddy, pointing out all things as if there existence relied on his recognition.
– I am the luckiest man to walk the earth –
Very quickly he stood up in the seat of the big green tractor and began to wave his hand in the direction of the side window, the same window that I wave from when I’m driving and see him watching from afar. He was waving his hand, too short to actually reach through the window and saying “hy-ohhh, hy-ohhh out dere, hy-ohhh” (toddler speak for “hello, hello out there, hello”). This is what I say to him when I wave my hand to him. “Hello, Hello out there, hello”. He was going to be just like me. He was already just like me.
And that’s when it hit me! No. He could never be just like me or even kind of like me. It hit me that he was his own unique being, his own universe, his own entity; there is no person or thing even close to being like him. What hit me was the difference between being like me and acting like me and the implications of that difference.
The recognition, for me, of the fact that my son is going to act like me but not be like me at once filled me with awe and hope, for humanity, for myself, for him, not because I don’t want him to be like me but more because of the implication of choice that comes with this recognition; with that choice comes free will and access to joy, the purpose of life!
My son will certainly learn how to act like his daddy, even if I were to leave him all together and never see him again he would learn that is how a daddy acts; we fathers are constantly teaching our children. What seems most important is the recognition that what I teach my son does not define his being. His being is only his and is impervious to any teachings or actions, it is within him, for him to discover and share; the best that I can do as a father is recognize this is and not make it more difficult for him by confusing him with his actions. To me this is humanity. To me this makes it clear that we all have it in us to live bigger, fuller, richer lives than we ever imagined and it’s this type of living that I am going for with him.
This was a profound morning of introspection and gifts; the time spent with my son, the view of him as his own being and the deepening of my understanding of myself as a father and of the responsibility I hold in fatherhood. I am (with one other) primarily responsible for this gift of humanity, this child, un-tethered, de-confused, full of wizardry, peace and joy. I am responsible for fostering not prohibiting what lies beneath. I am here to coax and guide, to always be a light. Sometimes it strikes me that the best I can do is to leave him to himself, check the room, make sure there are no “monsters” and simply observe. Other times more direct action is called for, difficult action, action that doesn’t feel loving in the way I grew up to understand it but is driven by something deeply solid, something that defines love differently. This new definition and my responsibility in upholding it humbles me and often times my own hypocrisy serves as a reminder of how far I have to go.
This is my “job” as a father.
**I have been having more and more of these types of mornings, especially in the last three or four years and there’s a big reason why. I chose the journey of self discovery years ago and I’ve been knocking on and opening some doors throughout the course of my life but I never really understood how to knock before coming to Albany and getting more involved with a group called NXIVM with a philosophical leader named Keith Raniere and I am grateful to both for helping me to knock differently! Thank you!