A few weeks ago, my son came down for a visit. He got his new (to him) car and wanted to come down to
show it off say ‘hi’ to his family. Me being the awesome dad that I am (you can stop laughing now), I didn’t change my regularly scheduled Saturday trip to Panera. Yes, I said I didn’t. See, I’m an awesome dad (seriously, you can stop laughing).
So there I was, sitting in Panera, enjoying my coffee, or eating my bagel, or staring blankly at a flashing cursor of my most current work
not in production, when he shows up. So I put down the screen to my laptop where I was diligently working away at the next Newbery award winning book trying to write the first word to something, and allowed him to be my excuse for why I did not write anything that day.
So we talked. He expressed, I listened (yes, I actually listen too). We joked, he laughed (with me, not at). And somewhere along the way we hit on a serious tone and I remember looking at him and telling him in all my fatherly wisdom (which, honestly, isn’t all that much) and said to him
Be the mountain, not the valley.
Basically telling him, choose to be better. It’s easy to fall into the valley, not everyone makes it to the mountaintop.
Awesome, right? It was like this epiphany just exploded in my head and I was all “Man on the Mountain of Great Wisdom”. It’s fun when I get to be that guy. So needless to say, it was a good conversation and he went his way, I went mine. Later that day, I shared with my wife my exciting bit of advice I got to share with him, explaining how it was this really cool thought, how it seemed to really help him in that moment, how I got to be “World’s Greatest Dad!” for 4.2 seconds. On and on I went, and I could tell she was just logging all this information into her data base.
Let me stop here and just offer this warning to any married (or soon to be married) man who reads this. If your spouse listens intently to you regale about your great connection with your children knowing that at the moment her’s is suffering because of the relationship you have with the aforementioned offspring, you only have yourself to blame for the fallout that you are fueling. Let this be a warning.
A warning that I just will never listen too because… I’m male. We don’t need instructions.
So, back to what I was saying. On and on I went, then I shared with her the whole “be the mountain, not the valley” part and she smiled and agreed it was good. I smiled and accepted my gold star and started formulating my acceptance speech for the next ‘Best Dad’s in America’ convention.
Fast forward several days. I’m having issues. Some of which are why this is my first post in about 8 days. Things that shouldn’t bother me have, and I have wanted to react to them. So I am sitting, sharing with my wife my woe’s and if you can’t see where this is going, you’re blind.
She sits there, tilts her head down, looks at me with those gorgeous green eyes, tweaks her lip up in the corner and I am thinking to myself, “Here it comes, here comes the fire. She is going to give me permission to burn the world. Yeah baby, give me the access codes to the nuclear weapon’s arsenal and I will push the button.” I can feel my mouth watering, knowing that she is going to be on my side and it will be glorious. I have my arms ready to raise in victory and I’m like a cat that about to pounce….
When she throws the dart that pops my hot air balloon. Be the mountain. In my head she is saying all sneery and snarky, but she’s not like that and I am sure it was sweet and innocent and loving.
I sat there, looking at her, all that anticipation deflated in an instant as my own words came back to bite me in the rear.
I sighed. I knew she was right (even though inside I want her to be wrong). So, I let go.
Besides… it’s not so bad to be the mountain
Seriously, look at that dude. I’d be totally ok with being the Mountain.
But, as with all things, there was something I learned from all this. What is that you might ask?
Don’t share with my wife those really awesome things I say to my kids.
Because she will totally use them against me at a later point.