Crushed cheez-its. Smashed poptarts. It’s okay.

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate

I’m constantly trying to improve as a father. Mommy reminds me regularly that I’m already doing a great job, but to me if there’s one thing I need to focus on constantly improving at in life it’s fatherhood. Ultimately no one will care for long if I improve my half ironman time by 30 minutes or if I make more money by becoming a better sales person. But becoming the best father I can be? That’s a different thing altogether. I think my great grandkids will feel the effects of that improvement. I’ll occasionally tell you ways I’m trying to get better here.

It occured to me last night that I get frustrated alot over little things the three of you do. One example is crushed cheez-its/goldfish/poptarts/spilled drinks. While Mommy does an awesome job of keeping our house cleaner than most, it’s virtually impossible to stay a step ahead of 3 “slightly messy” kids. You can almost always find crushed cheez-its or something equally as messy in our living room rug, couch, chair, or under the table.

My reaction generally is to get upset and say thing like:

  •  “you’ve got to be more careful!”
  • “Why are you eating goldfish in bed again!?”
  • “What possessed you to smash this poptart into the rug?!”
  • “you’re so messy!”
  • “seriously, you just spilled your 2nd cup of milk of the meal! Stop!”

Notice all the exclamation points? Seems fair, right? But it’s not. You didn’t mean to make those messes (usually). You’re just kids and kids are messy. The appropriate reaction should be “it’s okay, it’s okay. I’ll take care of that. Where did you hide my dust-buster/shop-vac? Wanna help?” I’m sure mommy will appreciate me helping more with the cleanup instead of just doing the yelling.

It’s hard to get to that point and I’m not very good at it. I want to improve at the “no problem” response. Why? Well, because someday when there’s a big issue in your life I want you to come to me with it. If I flip-out and yell now over crushed cheez-its and spilled milk will you be able to come to me with teenage and adult mistakes later? I doubt it. But i want desperately for you three to always know that Daddy is always there and ready with an “it’s okay. Let’s clean this up and do better next time.” That doesn’t mean I plan to enable you and condone inappropriate actions, but I’ll never stop loving you because you smashed a poptart on the arm of couch…just like I won’t stop loving you if you make a poor decision at a party in high school or college or have a fender bender at a stop sign. We’ll deal with the life lesson afterwards, but first I want you to  know that Dad’s going to meet mistakes and accidents with “it’s okay. Let dad help.”

Today I ran 4.5 miles with a few accelerations. My training is feeling better lately, but it’s still a battle everyday at this point. My goal of 5:29 at Rev3 Knoxville is looming.

I love you!

- Daddy

Training:

Ran 4.5 miles with 6 x :30 hard efforts (37 minutes total / 8:13 per mile)

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