I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what I hope Leo learns from FireDaddy and I. I’m not talking academically – although I do hope we can teach him a bit on those subjects as well – but what I’ve really been concerned with are the bone deep, firmly ingrained lessons we all take away from our families, for better or worse, and never, ever, completely forget (or CAN’T forget, no matter how hard we try). I, for instance, had it impressed upon me that being kind, pleasing others, and being of use to others was of utmost importance – even to the detriment of my own comfort or well being. FireDaddy learned that working very, very hard and providing materially for his family was his primary purpose in life, and to this day, is literally the hardest working human being I have ever met. Both of these lessons have extremely beneficial and extremely detrimental sides to them – and play huge roles in making us who we are. As I watch Leo grow and change, mimic us and then rebel against us in his small, independent way, I’m sometimes completely poleaxed by the fact that somehow, out of my screwed up, often malfunctioning brain, I am supposed to impart a worldview upon my son that will hopefully, somehow, help him to grow into a functional, intelligent, kind and caring human being. And then I have to squelch the urge to hide in my closet with my shoe collection until he goes to college. Usually by reminding myself of all the kisses and cuddles and bedtime snuggles I’d be missing, not to mention the fact that my boys would probably starve to death if I didn’t at least come out once in a while to cook. So finally, in an effort to avoid this rather exhausting mental journey that I’ve been taking with more and more regularity as Leo becomes more and more an entity unto himself, and I am forced to face more and more honestly the good and the bad in my own quirky personality – I have started trying to pin down EXACTLY what it is I hope, through changes in myself, our lifestyle and examples on the part of FireDaddy and I, that Leo ends up absorbing from our family.
I hope my son finds his calling, and follows it to the ends of the earth. Whether that be as a forest ranger (as his Daddy fervently hopes) an artist, a missionary, a doctor or a plumber – I hope he works at something that gives him satisfaction and pride. Just like his Daddy has, as a Firefighter, and just as I have, in my own small way, as an Art Gallery assistant and occasional blogger and crafter. To that end, I realize that I need to take more time out to pursue my interests, when the occasion arises, and to not give up so easily in the face of obstacles, disappointment or criticism.
I want my son to be truly kind. Not just to other people, the planet and animals – I want him to also be kind to himself. To know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that not only does he have intrinsic value as a human being, but that he has the RIGHT to kindness – from others, and from himself. I want him to see the good in others, in himself and in the universe.
I want him to be accepting. Not just of people and ideas that resemble him or are familiar to him – but to those that do not, as well. While some form of judgement is inescapable, I want him to judge people for the RIGHT reasons, instead of simply seeing stereotypes and “boxes”.
Most of all – When the need arises, I hope he has his father’s strength, bravery and determination, and his ability to stand up for himself and his truth.
That is what I want most for my son. Which means, of course, that this is what I now have to learn and practice for myself. It’s not easy, knowing that the patterns he sees in me may very well be patterns he grows up to repeat. It’s not easy to know that I’m going to make mistakes, somehow, somewhere, that he will have to overcome on his own terms as an adult. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do the best I can to give him a healthy example to follow.