“Tell your children you love them and your life wouldn’t be the same without them, even when they’re adults.”
Being a dad is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. That one moment in time has done for me that no lecture, event, mistake, or accomplishment could ever do; it has given me purpose. I am important, and in this world, I have to do whatever I can to protect my son and make him better than I ever could be. I see my mission as a father to give him every advantage in life so that when he does go out alone, he is ready. More ready than any of his other friends. My objective is to ensure that He will not just survive, but thrive.
I see him in everything I do, every decision I make, every movie, and everywhere I go. I want to be someone who he can be proud to say out loud, that guy is my dad. It has been a balancing act, but combining dad, friend and mentor have been a challenge that I fully accept. He is so much like me, that it really scares me. I know what he is thinking and feeling at almost every moment, that at times I just get lost in explaining myself. It hurts to see him have to go through things that I experienced as a child, but he does have me to help him through all of this.
As I have become more in touch with my mortality, I have realized that there is so much I want to share and teach with Caleb, but so very little amount of time to do it. These short stories/blogs that I write will help, as they will live on past me, and allow Caleb to reread some of the moments and feelings in our lives; however, there are some intimate topics that need to be shared directly with him. Our rules, helped us live together at the beginning of our journey and provided a basis for everything that we did while he was a baby, but now I believe we are reaching another milestone… the teenage years <cringe>.
I have the need to share with him, just in case something happens to me. I know this sounds morbid, but there was a movie that shaped a lot of my thinking about the subject. When I was in high school, a random movie came on the TV that I just couldn’t walk away from. The subject was profound and deep, and nothing like that types of movies that I enjoyed. But I was engrossed, and it touched me in such a way that changed my life. My Life, starring Batman (aka Michael Keaton), is a story about a soon to be dad that has been prognosised with a terminal disease and will not see the birth of his first child. So instead of falling apart, he starts videotaping lessons and teaches his future son all the important things that he needs to know for his upcoming life. The preview alone for the movie is heart-wrenching, but the concept is debilitating. Watch it if you don’t believe me (PREVIEW).
I have written letters to Caleb and even tried recording myself, but each time it ends with me spiraling into an emotional hell. I am hoping that in bits and pieces over time I would be able to share those life skills with Caleb, and I hope that he understands…
1.) Girls as friends: Caleb, I know that you are still at the age where girls are just friends. Some girls are closer to you than others, but still, you are just interested in playing and being happy. But soon enough that will change for you, but understand you don’t need to hurry the process. It will happen with time. Girls, on the other hand, will get there faster, which makes middle school/junior high real weird. Understand though, it’s okay for a girl to like you. It is actually a really cool thing. Everyone at this age has a hard time differentiating their feelings, so like and love get confused all the time. A girl may say she loves you and wants to marry you, probably just means she really likes you and wants to spend a lot of time with you.
I know girls are different and play differently than boys, but it is good to have that different perspective in your life. It is good to hear their opinions, and it’s good to have different people who you trust around you. Don’t be pressured into doing anything, but don’t push people (especially) girls away because they like you.
The key here though is keeping things as friends. You don’t need to do anything that is normal, or especially that you couldn’t tell me about. We will talk about this later, but avoid the physical trappings of girls until you are older and mentally ready. You don’t need to act a certain way for your friends to like you or a girl to like you, that pressure is bad, and people who care about you wouldn’t put you into that position. Also, just because you see it on TV or other kids are doing things doesn’t make it acceptable. Take your time to be ready.
2.) Health: Shuffling between me and your mom has been really tough on you. It causes a great deal of stress, which brings about stress eating and exhaustion. We both tend to eat when we are sad, and it is always comfort food. The other problem that you can’t control, is having a routine and constant motivation to keep you going. As an adult, I have a hard time some mornings or after work to hit the gym. It is real easy to just sleep in or eat dinner and go to sleep. That internal argument always seems to favor the lazy side of the brain. You are in such a tough spot, that you have to motivate yourself. Growing up I played sports, but only because I was told to. I had no motivation to push hard outside of the season I was playing, and since I wasn’t athletically gifted I was never the best.
Unfortunately, you may have many of the same qualities that I did. Mentally we won’t quit, but our bodies seem to yell louder. It took me until college before I understood that being healthy was important. Healthy isn’t just being skinny, but to be realistic I know for us this will always be a goal. But, you need to understand eating healthy, regular exercise and eating vitamins are very important to keep you going through the years. And honestly, exercise is not just a great physical way to improve your health, but an amazing way to improve your mental health. You will need this time, to help clear your thoughts. You mental conversations will be your best asset and also the worst enemy. They will help you solve problems that no one else can grasp, but also cause you to over analyze ever conversation. You need to shut down, so go do something that will wear you out. Go play basketball, dodgeball, flag football, run with friends, swim laps, kayak! Go do something fun, with friends, and escape reality! This will help you sleep, get you into great shape, allow you to eat more of the junk you are attracted to, and also give you a healthy outlet to all those burdens that you are holding on to. The great thing here is that you will be motivated by your friends and having fun!
3.) Set Goals: Always know where you are going or what you want in life. Your goals don’t have to be grand or elaborate, but they need to know, written down, and attainable. From personal experience, if you don’t have any of these, then you will just float through life either helping people achieve what they want or be run over by those people who you get in their way.
Make them simple though and something you can achieve soon, that will eventually add up to a bigger goal down the line. I will tell you that if you make the goals smaller, you feel better about yourself as you mark them off. Like running a mile in a month as the first goal, not running a 5K in 3 months. The key is to make progress and build momentum with small wins, which I promise will lead to big ones.
After you set those goals, write down the plan, just don’t talk about it. Be realistic though, because you don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Because you are like me, I know that you beat yourself up every time you fail. And all that will do is hurt everything else you are trying to achieve.
If for some reason you miss a goal, don’t worry, relook at what you are doing, and what got in your way. If the roadblock was important and unavoidable, plan for it in the future. Don’t make things easier, unless you have to. You need to be aggressive, but not crazy.
4.) Shaving: DON’T START SHAVING UNTIL YOU HAVE TO! I hate shaving, hate it with a passion. I know it only takes a few minutes in the morning, but God Bless it is the worst things to go through. However, it is a necessary evil if you want to be seen as well-groomed, and someone who cares about themselves. Understand this though, once you start you can’t go back. I know that the peach fuzz will get made fun of, along with the patches of hair that are not connected. And even worse for us is that we are hairy men, it’s a genetics problem that can’t nor shouldn’t be cured. The goal is to manage it all, so that you fit in, look normal. As soon as you shave, your skin won’t be as smooth, you will no longer look like a baby, but honestly, you won’t be a baby anymore. After you go through puberty, the goal is to just survive.
You need to start off with an electric razor to kind of tame down the hair. It won’t make things perfect but will allow you to control things until you start with a razor. Electric razors are all about the same and need to be replaced pretty often. So don’t go buy the most expensive one you can find, it won’t make a difference. You do need to clean it and scrub it with an alcohol swab to make sure you don’t get a cut or infection.
Razors are more tricky because there are so much time and science devoted to these that I just can’t keep up. I literally use the same razor from when I was in college, a Gillette Mach 3. 3 blades, easy to replace, and I don’t ever get cut. Safe, simple and idiot proof. Make sure to throw away when the blue line starts going away, so you don’t cut yourself with a dull razor. Also, start from the top and shave downward on your face, and on your neck go against the grain. This will give you the closest shave, and limit you damaging your face. If you do cut yourself or hit a pimple, make sure to clean the wound and blade with alcohol.
Big note (you will understand soon enough), use the same blade for your face and nowhere else.
5.) Promises and Trust: Always keep a promise. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Your word is literally the most important thing you own, that once you break a promise you lose someone’s trust. It takes years to earn someone’s trust and only a moment to lose it for very a long time. I know that there will be times where it is impossible to live up to what you said you were going to do… that is fine, be open and honest with the person and explain why. This goes for both adults and children. They will appreciate your honesty and understand your dilemma. The big thing here doesn’t let these people down consistently. Eventually, they won’t believe you anymore or trust that what you say is what you are going to do. Whether the promise was broken by mistake or by a lie, it will still hurt if you don’t try to fix it. Make the effort, and work really hard if you want to keep that person in your life. Breaking promises and losing trust is the quickest way to lose people.
You will also tend to break these with people you love the most. Even though it sounds wrong, you will think that people you love will always be there and love you no matter what. You are right, family and some friends will be there for you, but eventually, everyone will not believe you. And those that you thought will always stay, may leave you. Don’t take the chance.
Also, if someone repeatedly lies to you and has tons of excuses, you have to make sure you don’t get hurt. Do what you need to do to protect your emotions, its okay to forgive, but don’t make excuses for someone who continually hurts you. Keeping a promise is simple, and super important.
Do what you say you are going to do, and expect people to do the same for you.
As time continues I will write more, and even expand on ones I’ve already written. Heck, I will even share some funny and painful stories, so that Caleb knows I am not perfect (not even close). I want him to know, that I love him, and don’t want him to make the same mistakes I did. I want him to make his own.