In my house you have to be quick on your feet, fast to the draw, and speedy with your thoughts.
Between me and my boys, we can transition from one subject of conversation to the next and before you know it you’ve been left behind.
Take for instance our recent trip to Sweet Frog for some frozen yogurt.
Janelle: “I love Swedish fish, but they didn’t have any today.”
Kellan: “I want to go fishing.”
Jonah: “Yeah, I want to eat a fish.”
Me: “We should go camping.”
Jonah: “and eat fish?”
Me “Yes Jonah, we can eat fish”
Kellan: “I need a fishing pole”
Janelle: “What are you doing Michael?”
Me: “Ordering fishing poles on Amazon”
Janelle: “I really just wanted Swedish Fish for my yogurt”
And just like that, I’m taking my boys fishing.
Here’s the thing, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t fish, I don’t even own fishing poles… Yet. But my boys want to go fishing, and that’s what we’re going to do.
As a dad, I think it’s important to do things that make you feel uncomfortable, to challenge yourself to grow in every aspect of your life. So that’s what I’m doing, I’m pushing my comfort zone out a little and getting dirty.
And like most of my stories, I’m looking forward to teaching my boys a couple life lessons along the way.
Patience – Anyone who’s ever gone fishing knows it should just be called ‘waiting’. I remember as a young kid going fishing with my uncle for the first time and being so excited to fling my line out and wrestle with the big one. But no, as it turns out it was a lot of cast and wait, cast and wait, cast and…. You guessed it, Wait.
Patience is key when fishing, and not just for my kids, but also for me. Teaching a three and five year-old the basic concept of waiting and patience is enough to challenge the very lesson I’m trying to teach them. You see, my boys have the attention span of, well, a three and a five year-old boy. It takes multiple times of me saying something before they even hear me, let alone listen to what I’m saying. “Don’t grab the hook, boys”, “Wait until I help your brother”, “You’re going to hook your brother with that cast.” But here’s the thing, I always learn more about the lesson I’m trying to teach the boys while I’m teaching them. Demonstrating my patience with them during this time as an example of patience will go much further than my speech. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
Conversation – I look forward to having the opportunity to talk to my boys. Every night at dinner I ask them about the best and worst part of their days. I learn a lot about what my kids enjoy and I get a better understanding of their inner workings in these few minutes at the table. I love hearing about their stories and I truly pay attention to their words. I even follow up with a few questions to let them know I’m interested.
So while we’re ‘waiting’ for those fish to bite, we’re going to have plenty of quiet time to dive deep into our lives. Well, as deep as you can go with preschoolers. This is one of those lessons that can only be taught by doing.
All in all, It's pretty simple. Talk to your kids. Find out what they like and remind them that you have their backs, no matter what.
The Love of the Outdoors – Video Games, iPhones, and Television. It’s easy to get caught up with the technology of today. Maybe it’s the sun, maybe it’s the trees, but there’s something about being outdoors that makes us come alive. There was a time in my life where all I wanted was to be outside, riding my bike, and hanging out with my friends. But one year I begged my parents for a Playstation. That whole summer I spent inside, glued to the television. Summers after this were never the same.
So while my boys are young I want to experience this time in their lives with them. I want to show them how much fun we can have without Netflix or OnDemand TV. I want them to experience everything the wilderness can offer and love all that our Father created for us.
I have high hopes for this weekend. High hopes for the memories I will create with my boys and the stories we will share together. So I challenge you to go outside this weekend, talk to your kids, and be patient with them. They’ll love you for it.
P.S. The trip went great, and that whole cast and wait thing went right out the window as they both caught a fish on their first cast, but this is a story for another time.