How Having Kids Turned Me Into the Parent I Didn’t Think I’d Be
If you have kids, you’ll completely understand what I’m about to say.
Kids have a way of ruining things. A simple trip to the restaurant of your choice for a nice family dinner out can turn nasty the instant one of them doesn’t get a red crayon with their kids meal menu; turning your table into THAT table. The one everyone else is staring at watching to see how quickly you can diffuse the situation so they can get back to the nice, quiet meal they were trying to have.
That’s just one of countless examples I could give, but it’s not the reason behind this post. No, the reason behind this post has nothing to do with my kids having a meltdown over something ridiculously insignificant. Quite the opposite, actually. This is a story about a 9-year-old boy who simply wanted to enjoy a mild January afternoon throwing the football with his selfish, a-hole of a father.
Before you have kids (and during that nine month waiting period when your first one is coming), whether you admit it or not, you’re observing. Observing other people, their kids, how they interact with each other, both good and bad; you think back to your own experiences as a kid, and how your parents did things. You’ll even start to notice parent-child relationships on TV and in the movies. Like you suddenly developed some sort of “Spidey-sense” only far more mundane.
Through these observations, and despite the advice and warnings (solicited and unsolicited) you receive from friends and family who have experience, you start to make this grandiose plan on how you’re going to be the best parent EVER! The cool dad who will handle misbehaving kids with an astounding sense of calm that will be the envy of parents everywhere. The cool dad who will drop everything to play whatever it is his kids want to play, no matter what kind of day he’s had, or what’s on TV that he wants to watch.
Then over time, human nature kicks in, and you realize you’re not.
By nature, we humans are selfish people. There are times when we just want to be by ourselves, or do something that makes us, and only us, happy. When you become a parent, that mentality has to take a backseat, whether we want it to or not.
This past Sunday being a prime example in my house. Outside of a work-related appearance at a local wedding expo for a couple of hours, I had nothing to do, and in my head, planned on sitting in my recliner and watching the NFL playoffs. Things were going according to plan, when my son decided to thwart my scheme with a simple request.
Minutes before the Broncos game is set to kick off, he walks in the living room, football in hand, and asks if we can go outside to throw it around. It should be noted that when Peyton Manning left Indy to join the Broncos, my sons allegiance to my beloved Colts went with him, making his request all that more perplexing. So like any selfish human being would do to try and get his way, I tried to persuade him against it.
“But the game’s getting ready to start,” I say.
“I know,” he replied.
“So you’re telling me, you’d rather go outside and throw the football then sit and watch the game?”
After giving it all of two seconds of thought, he said, “Yep.”
I knew right then the conversation was over. I lost.
Then I thought back to those pre-child days, and those times I told myself that I wouldn’t do this exact thing. Even with that in mind, I begrudgingly said, “Alright, let’s go,” hoping in the back of my mind that his interest in throwing would wain, and we’d be back in the house in 20 minutes, giving me the opportunity to see a majority of the game.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, we were outside for about an hour, throwing back and forth and practicing route running, teaching him that if he wants to be the next Peyton Manning of his grade school football team, he needs to learn timing, and throwing the ball where his receiver will be, not where he is. As we practiced the same routes over and over with me as the receiver to his quarterback, his throws got better. He hit me in stride a number of times, and when he didn’t he knew why. Not only was he hearing my suggestions, he was listening and learning, and it was better than any game on TV despite the fact I thought I had managed to break my own nose in the process.
Will this father-son bonding time keep me from being a selfish a-hole in the future? Of course not. It will happen again, probably today. I’ll get home from work, and one of my kids will want to do something when all I want to do is sit and relax. I’m a parent, that’s what we do, and that’s OK.