When I was a kid, one of the things I loved most about going to my maternal grandparents’ house was that 1) Deenie (my grandmother) would always fix us waffles for breakfast, and 2) she would cut them up before serving them to us.
The waffles were great, but the detail of her pre-cutting them for us has been one of those memories that remains fixed in my mind. I think it’s because she was still cutting our waffles long after Mom stopped cutting up our waffles at home. And that was wonderful, because at home we had to do it ourselves.
We liked it because it was a luxury. We liked it because Deenie did the hard work for us. If there’s one way to a kid’s heart, it’s by reducing the amount of steps between him and a bite of waffle.
Yesterday I linked the St. Petersburg Times piece from Josh Gillin about finding a balance between your kids’ interests and your own. Gillin used a phrase to describe his own dad that I keep coming back to: his dad didn’t ignore him, but neither was he “a slave to his children.”
Servanthood has long been a discipline I’ve worked to make part of my spiritual life. In fact, I talk about it at length in O Me of Little Faith. It plays a role in our parenting, too. Both my wife and I are temperamentally suited to “serve” our kids. To take care of them. To do things for them, sacrificially, out of love. But we’ve had to make ourselves recalibrate that tendency over the last few years, because there comes a point where each kid needs to gain an age-appropriate independence. We’re not doing them any favors by serving them day in and day out. Our well-meaning efforts to do stuff for them gets in the way of them learning to do those things themselves.
At some point, you’ve got to stop cutting the waffle into bite-sized pieces. A kid needs to learn to cut his own waffle.
(Unless you’re a grandparent. In that case, you are free to cut your grandson’s waffles for as long as you like. Right, Deenie?)
A conversation, while riding bikes in a nearby affluent neighborhood for the purpose of looking at large houses…
“Whoa, Daddy, look at THAT one!”
“Yep. It’s big.”
“If we lived in that house I would hug you all the time.”
“I would hug you all the time.”
“I know I’m supposed to hug you anyway, but I would do it a lot more with a big house.”
“Good to know.”
Word on the publishing street is that the tumblr blog Dads are the Original Hipsters is headed down the blog-turned-book road. This is welcome news because it’s a killer, well-executed idea. (Too use a couple of violent adjectives.)
Your dad kept it warm in a pea coat before you did and he has the anchor buttons to prove it. Long before you ever strolled into a surplus store to buy your own Navy issued bit of sailor sex appeal, he was making blue wool and slash pockets look hard. [link]
Congrats, Brad Getty.
Update: If you think your dad may have been an original hipster, submit your own photo of him here for Brad’s book and website.
Interesting recent piece in the St. Petersburg Times by staff writer Joshua Gillin, about being a geek forced, by impending fatherhood, to “grow up.” Being a geek is all about obsession, Gillin writes. So he’s preparing for an obsession transformation, from movies, martial arts, and video games to his first child:
My wife and I made a promise to each other, that we would love our children and devote our lives to them, but that we would keep some part of our previous selves intact. My own father always kept at least a little time for himself, whether it be to read a Western novel or simply take a nap. He never ignored me — in fact, he was quite doting — but it was always understood that he was his own person, not a slave to his children. He was to be respected and looked up to, not be beholden to his offspring’s every whim at a moment’s notice.
That means I will still take time to watch a samurai movie or play an online death match in the latest Call of Duty, but there will be a rebalancing of these pursuits. That actual calibration won’t be up to me, but I understand it will happen.
A decade into fatherhood, that’s something I’m still struggling to find: a balance between feeding myself (pursuing my own interests and doing the things that keep me energized) and feeding my kids (being as present as possible for them, nurturing and loving them the best way I know how).
This kind of balance is always hard. How does it play out in your life?