In my first entry on this site I wrote about how my ex and I maintain a cordial and civil relationship since we split up. In fact, in many ways we’re better friends now than when we were married. As a result, I was over at our, I mean her, house this evening fixing the arms on the mailbox post that had fallen for some reason. Yes, I help her out like that. And when I stop and think about it, helping her out always trickles down to helping out my kids.
And speaking of helping, I had two little and eager helpers assisting me with my project. The sun had already set, and Natalie and Daniel, dressed in their flip-flops and PJ’s, were standing there with their toy lanterns providing illumination to my work area. They were both so inquisitive about everything I did. “How did it break, daddy? Why is your drill so loud, daddy? Am I holding the light in the right place, daddy? Do you need another screw, daddy?” In fact, the only tough part about having them help is making sure I have enough for both of them to do.
That moment took me back to when I was a kid and helped my dad. Unlike my kids, my ‘apprenticeship’ was not voluntary. I HAD to help out. I had to ‘pull my own weight’ and ‘contribute to the family’. My dad was a wonderful man, but boy could he work you. And summers in Miami aren’t always about sea breezes and palm trees. When you have to stop and ring the sweat out your entire shirt, you know it’s hot!
But all those moments of laying tile and tarring roofs and carrying cinder blocks and mowing the lawn and changing the oil in the car and crawling under the house to work on plumbing and mowing the lawn again because it just grows so damn fast in the summer and …… well, you get the point! All those collective hours spent working and learning are invaluable to me now. They allow me to appreciate my office job. They allow me to appreciate the private school education for which both my parents busted their asses in order to afford. Those moments remind me of everything for which I have to be thankful.
And I am thankful that my children show an interest in helping out. I am thankful that my children are naturally genuine and, for lack of a better phrase, willing to serve. I am thankful for all the compliments I get for my children, as well as the commendations I receive for having done a good job raising them so far. If I have then it’s a testament to my parents, for all I am doing is taking what they taught me and passing it down to my kids. Hard work, honesty, integrity and spirituality. My parents instilled these values on me, and I like to think I am doing the same with my kids.
I know without a doubt that when it comes to parenting, my parents are my role models. In thinking about the look on my kids’ faces as they were helping me tonight, it’s obvious that I am a role model to them. And even though the responsibility can feel overwhelming at times, I am honored to return the favor to my little helpers. I want to help them by doing right by them. Help them by teaching them the value of work and the importance of respect for self and others.
The greatest project I will ever undertake has nothing to do with hammers, drills or pieces of wood. Rather, it has everything to do with two little gifts from God. And I hope the result is spectacular as I have always imagined it will be!