As many of my readers know, my son and daughter are basically polar opposites. My son (7) is very measured and uses logic for most everything he does; he loves sports and the numbers behind all of the statistics. My daughter (5) is a free spirit and loves to dance whether any music is playing or not. I hope that I have taught my kids to be thoughtful towards all people, they don’t always show it, but when they do, it really tugs at your heart strings.
As the holidays were upon us, the kids started making wish lists of toys that they want from Santa from commercials on TV and what they’ve seen walking through toy stores. As with most kids, if they actually got everything from their lists, we would be broke and I would have had to cash in my retirement. As usual, we try to curb the kids’ expectations when it comes to Christmas and explains that they won’t get everything on their lists, but if they put smaller items on the list, there would be a better chance of them receiving more. That is when the list morphed into mostly video games and gadgets that are way above their levels at 5 and 7. I guess I had that one coming looking back at it.
My wife and I decided that we can take the kids out to Bass Pro Shop early one Saturday morning in December and stand in line with the other parents all trying to keep their kids calm and pray for no meltdowns to see the man. The kids are rarely that bad, but to a parent, you always think they could have behaved a lot better and made better decisions. Brennan was having a particularly difficult morning following directions, I’m sure it had nothing to do with ice cream before bed and staying up later than normal the night before (insert eye roll here). As we were in line to see the jolly fella, there were kids games that the little ones were enjoying but I told them to stay where I could see them. The third time that he wandered off with his sister in tow, I had to chase them down and forced them to stand with me in line (my wife was in the Starbucks line at the other end of the mall) until it was our turn. Needless to say, they weren’t thrilled with this and asked me over and over if they could go play again. I eventually let them go play for the last five or so minutes before we were ushered into the front. Luckily, our kids are not scared of Santa anymore and Lilly went first asking for unicorns, rainbow hair and acting out every commercial that she has seen. When Brenn went up, we couldn’t hear him but he asked for a new bike and a few other things, and then he turned to Santa and said something quietly, which made the big guy make eye contact with me and give me a knowing smile and a nod. When I asked him what he had said to Santa, I was blown away!
So a little background, after 10 years active duty with the Navy, I got out and worked a really interesting job programming smart lighting in office buildings but I was traveling 75% of the time. I found a new job after 18 months, as a project manager for a government contractor that seemed much better as I couldn’t work overtime and was home every night. It hasn’t quite been ideal and I’m sure is adding to my stress levels.
Brennan told me that after telling Santa about all of the toys he wants, he told Santa that he really just wanted him to help find his dad a new job so that I could be happy and not as stressed out. I was definitely taken aback. For a 7-year-old in that completely self-indulging situation to think about me meant that we were doing something right. I’m not going to put on a tough guy persona for this one; I was struggling to fight back tears. Later that night I sat down with him and thanked him for asking for help from someone like Santa and that I would try to not let my work stress spill over into my home life. I also told him that he acted very mature in doing something that was so thoughtful and selfless.
When we as parents get to witness a moment like this first hand, all you can do is sit back and smile at the job you’ve done. No kid is ever perfect all the time, and if they were I think that life would be so boring; but when they do things like this, it all evens out.
Stay strong out there dads, and keep raising thoughtful tiny humans! Be sure to check out more goofy stories and slivers of wisdom at my blog www.allgoodinthefatherhood.com