Yesterday I tackled a task I’ve been putting off for years, decades even. And because I had a large pile of yard debris to burn, I decided to take on two tasks simultaneously. I’ve been hauling around financial records for years. Old check stubs, payroll reports, bank statements, and canceled checks. In addition, there were files regarding the buy and sale of houses and all sorts of other important papers. I’ve known I needed to destroy these docs for a long time, but the idea of standing over a shredder for a couple of days really didn’t sound appealing. I think you can understand why I’ve been procrastinating.
“It turned out to be a great day”
I know this is really know excuse for dragging this stuff all over the country – five states – but I have excuses for that too. It just seems that moving never comes at a time when one can take on extra tasks. Sometimes, when it’s time to move, we just have to throw things in the truck and head out. I hate moving.
In addition to all these financial records, I’ve saved letters, cards, and correspondence for years. Some of these were old love letters, photos, and mementos. I’ve wanted to get rid of these for years. I am married to the love of my life, my soul mate, the woman of my dreams – I have no need, or desire, to reminisce about the past. But again, it is about disposing of things appropriately.
“I wish my Dad would listen to me.”
So, yesterday, burning permit in hand, I told my Smiling Son we were going to light the pile. In addition, I suggested to my Darling Daughter and Wonderful Wife that we should roast some potatoes and corn in the fire. My son was ready to go!
Not only does he love to be with me, help me, and discover new things – he recently discovered that fire is cool. I underestimated this level of excitement in him. I also seriously underestimated my level of introspection over this process. These two energies do not merge well.
“I see a lot of Dads shutting their kids down…”
As I’m going through boxes with 40 years of history, my Smiling Son is chatting non-stop. He is giving me a running narrative of everything – every bug, every paper, every stick, and every flame. He is constant and he is jazzed. Unfortunately, as I look at bank statements from my first savings account, letters from significant memories, and files detailing my first house – my mind is reeling with thoughts and images.
It turned out to be a great day. The yard debris burned, the papers burned, the potatoes were awesome, the corn was ok, and we all ended up having some great outdoor time. The kids took baths, I finished up with the burn pile, and then I sat in the dark, by the fire, by myself. It was good to have some time to chill. And that’s when it hit me – it was a good day.
I also realized something about my son’s constant chatter. It is a form of worship. It’s well known that a kid’s real hero is his father – that’s me. Anytime he can do something with me, he is in Heaven. Anytime he can help, well, that’s just better. And fire – fire is cool.
I wish I could chatter to my father like that. Better, I wish he would listen.
I see a lot of Dads shutting their kids down. The holler, snap, or criticize their kids’ constant banter. To be fair, it can be annoying – but that isn’t the point. The kids need our affirmation, support, tolerance, and understanding. If you shut that kid down, they will forever be scarred.
I’m not talking about an occasional scolding, or a request to be quiet – it’s ok for kids to quieted now and then. But if you are always telling your kids to be quiet, or yelling at them for interrupting you, some real damage can be done. Some people tease their kids and ridicule them for doing what kids do best – ask questions and chatter. But it isn’t always the silencing that is damaging, sometimes it can be the manner in which you do this. Your tone, your attitude, and your manner can often be the most damaging.
Yesterday, I didn’t give my son 100% of my attention. There were even times I told him I didn’t have time/energy to listen or look at everything he was trying to tell or show me. But amazingly, I was calm and patient. I hope I can always be that way.
Like I said, I wish my earthly father would listen and hear me. More importantly, I bet my Heavenly Father loves it when I chatter like my son does – and I’m pretty sure He never gets tired of it either.
Did your father listen to you? Does he listen now? Do you listen to your kids? What stands in the way?