May 3rd, 2021
My friend asked me for advice on being a dad the other day.
In general, I don’t “give advice”; I choose to share my experiences and what I learned (or didn’t learn) from those times, in the hopes that maybe someone else can learn (or not learn) something from them, too. I don’t tell people what to do. I’m not comfortable with it.
Regardless, instantly, I found myself saying:
“Listen to your kid.”
And if that sounds like a general or vague statement, then you’re not paying attention to what I’m saying.
What I meant is this: before you bring a child into the world, subconsciously or, more likely, very consciously, you are going to have expectations for them.
The things you’re going to do together, the people they’re going to become, what your life is going to look like forever. You’re going to speculate with your idea of a normal, simple childhood for the kid you’re about to raise.
Basically, you’re going to imagine their life as a plain donut.
And (again, consciously or sub-) you’re going to think about this donut and how normal and simple it’s going to be. How you’re going to live this simple and normal life.
And when that child arrives, it’s going to be covered in pink frosting and you’re going to have no idea what to do with that.
When I say listen to your kid, what I mean is, don’t let your expectations get in the way of what it is your kid really wants.
I wasn’t really a sports dude. I was fairly vocal about that. But on more than one occasion, I was “encouraged” (more than gently pushed) into sports by well-intentions and, probably, expectations. Not only did I suffer a pretty nasty mouth injury during baseball practice (yes, practice), I never felt close to sports or got better, nor was sports a thing that made me happy or something I was any good at to begin with. I don’t harbor resentment for it, but I did know it wasn’t something I love.
Don’t be disappointed or despaired by the pink frosting. The pink frosting is who your kid is. Embrace it, highlight it — hell, let your kid put sprinkles on it or change that frosting’s color.
But just remember: listen to them. Because they know what kind of donut they are better than the people who made them.