Three Worlds

I watch with fascination and joy at the world my children create with their stories, their toys and the retelling of their days. Theirs is a world of adventure (firemen), imagination (dinosaurs), joy (ice cream), challenges (getting ready for school) and sorrow (not being in control). They see with wonder, experience with gusto, learn like sponges. Their future is unfathomable even as they struggle to understand the universe (what is bigger than …), death (is John Lennon still alive? When will I die?), why must I share my toys?

The world I inhabit now is about making their future a little better. Striving to understand my role as a father, living a healthier life, maintaining our friendships and real world social relationships (for myself and them), saving for college and of course, composting. I view culture, music, art, history, news and technology through the lens of what it means for my children. I balance living in the moment with my family with worrying about the future and my ability to provide, guide and care for them.

The world of my father is about the simple pleasures of retirement. Enjoying the present with family, television and spirituality. Fruit for breakfast, time with kids and grandkids, and the luxury of life on your schedule. A day without pains and cricket on TV is a good one. A day with no nap, is a tiring one. My father did his best to create something meaningful with his work. Important but ephemeral, lost in politics and war and diffused by time. His mission is mine too although less courageously. My father has earned his right to a retirement on his own terms. A present life among past memories, some joyous and some regretful.

For the first time, as a father of two boys and a living father, I see the arc connecting three worlds from birth to mid life to old age. These worlds connected by a biological arc, knowable only in the abstract, define my purpose, sense of self and inspiration. Time will complete the story of course, and then time will erase it.

“We are not bound by anything other than what we choose to be bound by.”

Variation on a quote by Abraham Lincoln (yes, that one). “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/abrahamlin163082.html#yJdJCIsWy5Q2R9Oq.99

"One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for."

A moment, that moment

There’s a special moment, or more accurately, a series of clustered moments in your infant/toddler’s life when he transforms from cluelessness into a sentient being.

The moment, or moments, when the lights go on. The child feels himself, sees you and the people around him. The moment when your child understands the basics like hunger and food, being tired and sleep. The moment when he realizes that you are his safety and that he can communicate his needs. The moment when he expresses his joy upon seeing you.

I had such a moment last weekend with KV, our youngest son. He was climbing up on the bench of a small picnic table, not too safely, but determined to stand up. I had told him several times not to do so with words, gestures and physically moving his body a couple of times but there he was doing it again. 

In the midst of my grown-up conversation and the chaos of other kids playing, KV stood up and our eyes met. He was proud, happy and smiling. I, while concerned about his balance and gesturing to him to sit down, smiled back. We looked, saw and locked. Cognition, connection, communication — all exchanged in that moment. His personality and presence now manifested.

After 10 seconds, he looked down and step down. And, I rejoined the conversation on the grown-ups table. 

He won’t remember those 10 seconds and that is how it should be. A 15-month old shouldn’t be encumbered with sentimentality or the search for meaning. His life is in the now.

For me though, that moment is forever captured and sealed.

Preschool

As our first son gears up for his new preschool, I feel the tension rise of wanting so much for it to be a great experience for him.

I also intensely feel the anxiety that comes with realizing that  this is the beginning of his life as an independent person and a self-actualized individual. 

He is only three, as he reminds me at times, and an amazing adventure awaits him. Each step, each day, for the rest of his life, my hope is that his time is filled with wonder, joy, happiness, adventure, knowledge, art, music, safety, security and companionship. When sadness strikes, an essential experience of life, I hope he accepts and endures it with strength, drawing from the emotional foundation we have created for him.

For me, there is joy in all of the above. And I get that these are the beginnings — the first real steps — of my little boy/kid/son becoming himself, separate from me.

For posterity.

“An echo is when it sounds like two people but it is the same person!”
— My three year old son KJ’s definition of “echo”

The state of things … and the move

It is late.

Nine+ months after we moved to Northern California, from Southern California, I sit awake, the fam sleeping upstairs, feeling the urge to write about our lives.

Our boys are great. Now three and one. We have watched their personalities emerge. Share their joys and pains, big and small. Each day, I find myself living for them a little more than the last. 

There are so many moments of being a dad and being with them that I want to capture and share.  But the adventure of each day is overwhelming and the not-to-be-forgotten moments, tucked away in my mind’s folds, will eventually fade.

We took a chance and moved so our boys may create a more positive life story with the values, beauty and sense of community that this city offers (people are incredibly nice and seemingly sincere here but that is a post for another day).

We also moved out of a desire to do better in our careers. Which came first, I am not so sure.

And then there was also the clear and selfish desire on my part to shake things up for me. Not to drive the same roads anymore or visit the same restaurants or work the same job. To change the conversation with my friends. To force a change in the seemingly predictable trajectory my life was taking.

Well, we did it and have now taken-up the work of integrating ourselves into this amazing yet still opaque (to me) city. 

But was this move the right thing?  What story will time tell?

The stolen shovel

Today my son KJ’s shovel was stolen from the stroller at a playground.  When he told me what had happened, I said “It is okay. People sometimes take things from other people because they need them. We will look for another one for you soon. I am sorry you were sad.”

Not sure if it is was the right response. I feel so ill-equipped at times to know what the right thing is to say.

KJ moved on with his play but was a little more fragile the rest of the day. Was it because of this incident? And I know it will come up again in conversation as he processes it over the next several days.

I know this is a small thing compared to what children face — locally and all over the world. But it sucks that even this incident needed to happen.

An initiation into our hard world that is also full of joy and adventure. And so it goes …

Not a fan of HuffPo typically, but this post rings so true …