Being a dad has turned me into a hypocrite of sorts.
I look fondly back at the things I did -- enjoyed, and yet I shelter my own boys from many such experiences.
On one hand a wish they could experience the kind of freedom I had as a kid, but then I am the very person who most often denies them those freedoms.
I sometimes think I'm doing them a disservice, sheltering them too much, I fear they will not know how to deal with "real word" situations and yet I take pride that at 10 and 8 they think of FART as the F word.
I think of the childhood they are having in comparison to my own and wonder how different a person I would be had I been raised with the advantages they have.
Now I'm not saying I had a bad childhood. I en joyed my days as a carefree kid allowed to roam the entire southeast side of Amarillo. Yeah my vocabulary included words no mother wants their son to say, but I had sense to know not to deploy an F Bomb within earshot of an adult. Except that one time, when we were trying to get out the door to church and my mom was yelling at me to hurry, and I was trying to tie my shoe, and my older brother kept pushing me over over time I knelt to grab the laces. I'd had enough, so I screamed at him, "LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!"
That was the first time my mom had ever heard me curse. I was all of nine or so, but I was wily. So when she asked where I learned such language I paid my brother back by innocently smiling and pointing at him. He was about 15 at the time and caught an earful all the way to church.
But by far the biggest difference between my boys and I is myself.
I take an active role in their life -- My dad never did.
He was a salesmen, traveling and otherwise) and therefore rarely home. Even when in town he wasn't home. He liked to gamble. And he liked Canadian Whiskey even more. Except for hunting and fishing expeditions we spent very little time together. The same is actually true to this day.
When he was home he and my mother fought. Vigorously.
I do not believe my boys have ever heard Jennifer or I raise our voices at each other.
I have no memories of my parents together when one or both were not screaming at the top of their lungs.
My mom took care of me. But she had to work to do so. that meant there were things I simply had to take care of by myself. Well, in theory my brother was around, but he never was blessed with much in the way of common sense so I pretty much fended for myself.
People say divorce has a profound impact on kids lives. For me the actual event had next to no impact.
My dad never had been around much. Matter of fact I didn't even know my parents were divorced until one day my mother took me out for pizza. As we were walking in, a lady was walking out." She looked at my mom and said, "I haven't seen you in years. How are you."
It was standing there, while not so patiently waiting to go inside and scarf down some peperoni pizza that I heard my mom say these words, "Oh no. I divorced him nearly three years ago."
I was nine or ten at the time and only when my mom added, "I don't think I'll ever get married again," did I realize she was talking about my dad.
True to her word she hasn't. Nor has my dad.
Once I got old enough and they no longer had reason to see each other or speak they quit fighting. That is not to say they like each other. They do not. I believe their dislike for one another has only festered through the years. To my knowledge they have not breathed the same air or shared a phone conversation in nearly two decades.
So it was quite funny the day my oldest son stared straight into my mom's eyes and said, "Meme, you should meet my Grandpa sometime. I think you'd like him."
I was unable to hide my grin at her chocked expression. After a moments pause my mom answered, "I've met him thank you very much."
That was three or four years ago and my son still cannot fathom that they once lived together as man and wife. He cannot comprehend that not everyone loves each other forever as promised.
I'm proud that Jennifer and I have provided a steadfast example for him but I'm nothing if not a realists and I fear both my boys will discover some of these things the hard way.
So tell me about your childhood and how it differs from the way your own kids are being raised.