Sunday 24 August 2014

What Might Be

They say that you spend the first eighteen years of your life learning how to be a good person from your parents. You spend the rest of your life trying to unlearn a lot of what they taught you. To be fair, parents are learning how to do the job as they go and it is understandable that they will make more than a few mistakes.

You can see some of the mistakes you made by watching how your children raise their kids. You also learn what it was that you did right. You really know you screwed up if you are visiting your kid in prison. We all make mistakes, more often than not we don’t realize they are mistakes when we make them and some times never do. Some of these are passed down from generation to generation.

Years ago when I was little I spent almost every weekend at my Grandmother’s cottage, a lot of my time was spent near the lake looking for fish, frogs and adventure. The lake was man made by building a dam at one end of a valley and allowing it to flood in order to create hydro electric power. When they flooded the land, many trees were left, which made boating a little treacherous. By the time my family were spending our weekends at the lake, there were areas of the shore that had about twenty yards of floating and half submerged logs intertwined which was impossible for a small boy to stay away from.

I would venture out on these logs and they were so intertwined that a sure footed person could spend hours hopping from log to log looking for things of interest. I would generally return home soaked head to toe. My mom and dad took to calling me clumsy and accident prone. They told me to stay away from the logs, not to climb trees, don’t walk on fences or I would break something. I never did break anything, nor did I stay away from fences, trees or the floating logs, but I was just a little more cautious.

I did believe them when they told me that I was clumsy and accident prone. They were my parents after all and wouldn’t lie to me. I’m sure that in their minds, I was a clumsy, accident prone boy, that’s what they saw. It took me till I was well into adulthood to understand that they were completely wrong. I have very good balance now and I had excellent balance back then. I think I just took more chances than the other kids, or thought my legs were just a little longer than they actually were. It was an honest mistake.

Parents can and do have a large impact on their children’s opinions of themselves. I believed I was that accident prone kid for thirty years. What a waste. I wonder what I might have done if my parents had just given me shit for getting wet all of the time. I did the same to my kids. I don’t even want to think of what I did to Arwen or Maegan, but I have convinced Brendan that he should stay away from anything sharp because of a few accidents with knives when he was in scouts. Maybe if I had just put on a bandage, he would be a world class wood carver now. Maybe, but he wouldn’t be the person he is now and that would be a tragedy. Sorry to the kids for what they may have been, but you have turned out okay in spite of me.

Parents, be aware of what you are telling your kids because in a very real way you are making them who they are and who they will become.

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