Growing up, I’d always dreamed of having a big family. My sister and I were really close, despite our age difference, and I guess I wanted to be able to recreate that kind of close sibling bond between my own children. I expected them to grow together and learn together and build off each other’s strengths. All that sappy parent-y stuff. Of course, there’d be some bickering, probably more than I’d like, but that’s just par for the course.
Somehow, it seems like I’m the one learning from them most of the time though.
Every time my newborn starts crying out for attention, I start thinking about how nice it would be to feel so free to ask for help. Not that I’m constantly in dire need of assistance or anything. In fact, I’d probably say I’m doing pretty well for myself. But just the fact that he can let others know when he needs something without so much as an apologetic smile—I guess it’s just kind of humbling for someone like me. Sometimes, I use so many words to say so little, and I never actually get to the point of what I’m trying to say. And then he doesn’t say anything, just wails, and I know pretty much exactly what he means.
And then there’s Richter. He’s nooottt… easy to handle a lot of the time. He’s got pride a mile wide and an awful case of stubbornness. (Can’t say I have nothing to do with that.) But you know, he’s facing his weakness. Schoolwork isn’t something that comes naturally to him, but he’s making attempts to change that now, thanks to the help of that neighbor girl. I don’t know that that’s something I can say for myself. If I come across something I struggle with, I make an effort to not come across it again. Richter, on the other hand—well, he puts on a tough act sometimes, but I can tell he wants to do better in school. I gotta respect that.
My oldest, Liam, impresses me with his open-mindedness all the time. He’s not really one for puzzles or logic-based games, and usually he’ll pass on playing them when given the opportunity. But every now and then, he’ll challenge me to a game of chess and play with his all might. I don’t think it’s a case of him wanting to improve his logical thinking either; he’ll only play one game and then lose interest. It’s more that he’s open to the idea that maybe his interests have changed. They haven’t yet, but that he even explores the possibility that they could, to me, is amazing. When I look at myself, I’m faced with someone who makes a snap judgment on someone or something and requires a whole lot of persuading to be convinced otherwise.
Yeah, these lessons I’m learning from my kids aren’t exactly groundbreaking. (I mean, I’m pretty sure there’s probably a website that sells tacky pillows with these insights embroidered onto them.) But it’s still helpful for me to think on them sometimes, so that when I’m tempted to say something stupid when I’m arguing with my wife, I might be able to take a step back and reevaluate the situation.
Because it’s definitely not easy trying to return to the mindset I used to have when we first got married. There’s a certain of level of wariness about her heritage that will always be hard for me to get past. At the same time, I realize she must have her own doubts about me. I didn’t exactly make our reconciliation an easy process. It’s a work in progress for sure. But I know we both want this family to work, and I know we’re both willing to work through our issues so that it will. It just might be a good idea to draw from the perspective of our kids from time to time when we’re trying to figure out how to accomplish that.