Probably True Things

Dear Jack and Ruby:

Here are some probably true things that may help you sort out the world – whatever it looks like – in the times to come.

  1. People will lie – you have to love them anyway.
  2. People will present a front that has nothing to do with reality.  This is normal.
  3. You’ll have more distractions to keep you from being focused.
  4. Men and Women will both gold dig.
  5. People will not understand the world you live in-  you have to survive.
  6. These people might be your parents: my advice will be obsolete at some point in the future, but I’ll try my hardest. 
  7. I will disappoint you at some point, try to forgive me.
  8. I’m not perfect, and I hope I never claim to be.

The world is accelerating faster, I know that there will be more changes in the next 10 years than there were in the past 40.  And I know that that cycle will accelerate. The toolset we use: laptop, mobile phone, email, etc to communicate will be supplanted.

I hope that I can be of use and of service in the future. 

Love, 

Your Dad

Jack…o….lantern

One of the memories that I’ll always, always have is taking Jack trick or treating.

I was at the nadir of my existence.  I was living in a too-expensive rent-to-own house in Columbus, coming off my battle with adult failure spiral. Heather was at school, and I think pregnant.  Jack, my boy, was a precious, precocious little 2.5 year old.

I was doing mortgages still, but my overhead was tough, I was unable to keep swimming.  (Strangely, I was the best in the office, and the whole office had to be drowning).  The IRS had crashed into me.  I was broke, and stuck.  My overhead was so high, and my landlord was a nasty jerk, so everything had to run.

Trick or treating.  Heather was at school, pregnant with Ruby, so it was just me and Jack.

We went around our neighborhood, and Jack didn’t know what to expect. He went to one house, and did what I asked, “say trick or treat.”  He was given candy.  He was astonished.  He was struck dumb by his good fortune (at the time we weren’t eating much candy).  He said “Thank you,” so sweetly, that the neighbor was prompted to give him more candy.  And he said “thank you, again, and looked for what to do next.”

I was surfing the payables, riding a line between disaster and Jacks’s here just thrilled to get a ten cent Snickers bar.

Other kids were trick or treating, too.  He saw the costumes, the Thomas the Tank Engines and other characters he knew.  Lightning Mcqueen was big then.  Jack and I were pirates..  His expectation was that he was going to dress up and go for a walk. That was enough for him to look forward to it all week.

He went to the next house -and was just amazed that that house had someone with candy, too.

On and on it went, and Jack’s “Trick Or Treat” descended into a “Thank you.” as soon as the door was opened.  He was smiling back at me, wondering what houses had candy.  He wanted to stop at the park to eat his candy , and we kept going and he kept getting more.

For that night- and for a long time- I forgot my troubles.

My debt. The hopelessness. I was about 31 then, and I didn’t see any escape. I was smothered in misery, humiliation. On top of it I had to  schlep mortgages.  My little boy was just happy to be getting candy for no reason he could fathom.  Holding my hand.  He looked up at me like I was the best thing ever.  That’s I’d found some way to trick the whole world all at once.  I was magic, he was happy, sweetly thanking everyone.

Things started looking up after that.  I stayed in mortgage long enough to keep the health plan for Ruby’s birth.  Seeing Jack’s wonder sustained me for a while, and kept me away from despair.  I’m a (piece of) work in progress, but that’s one of the sweetest memories I own.

 

Standards For Living

I’m a father and a dad.

A father is someone – to me – that biologically reproduces.  Creates a child physiologically.  A dad is someone that’s around, that loves his kid(s) and that makes some real sacrifices to make everything happen.

Some of the ideas that stem from that – flow to my identity are this:

  • Would I be proud of my kids for behaving this way?
  • Does this set a good example for them to model?
  • Would I be ashamed if my kids saw me doing this (think: Biff/Willy Loman)?
  • Is this the type of life that will lead to me providing options for my kids?
  • Does this make things better for them?

Obviously, I’m not always money there.  I’d like to think that “I live for my kids,” but obviously we truly don’t do that (here’s a hint: the people that make the biggest deal out of it fall short).  I also think that…there is a balance.  Being a self sacrificing Dad that puts all of my interests on the back is not congruent with sharing by example.

I think – a lot – that people that overdo it with the parenting are generally more likely to be poor parents.

For the most part, my folks were good folks, I was lucky to have them. I don’t see the world as they do.