Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interactivity

The manner in which you interact with your children is important. The actions that you choose on a daily basis, the speech patterns you use, the thought patterns you use, and the choices you make are all imprinted on your children. There's no "they'll understand, they're my kids." When you treat them a certain way, that's the way that they respond.

Point of shame, for me: twice, over the weekend, Little Bear told me, "Put the iPhone in your pocket and play with me!" True, one of them was giving a status update to Mum about our plans. However, that's not what he sees. What he sees is his Daddy NOT playing with him, but playing with his iPhone. I'm kind of ashamed of that. After all, the kids are only young once, and there's a short window where they actually want to play with their parents. Soon enough, it's school and friends and friends and significant others... I'm going to try to make the New Year's Resolution of keeping my phone in my pocket when I'm with the boys, except to A) take cute pictures, and B) check baseball scores.

One must have priorities.

The Boy is a champ when it comes to taking speech cues from me and the family and from television. This week, he's started saying, "Yes, sir!" to inquiries and requests I make. He's very proud of himself, that he's made that speech change. I'm proud of that, as well. The Wife and I really strive to keep a positive and polite manner with the children at all times, and that shows because our children tend to be polite and positive when around other people.

Don't get me wrong, they have their moments. We do, too. Yesterday, for instance, The Wife freaked out on The Boy. He was sitting on the potty, playing with The Baby's nystatin cream that we had just gotten. Here's what I like about that: The Wife and I had a conversation about it, and the focus of the conversation wasn't "He is so bad!" or anything like that. It was, how can we avoid that situation in the future? Ultimately, children are children. If they weren't short sighted and somewhat irresponsible, they wouldn't be children. It is our job, as adults, to set an environment that allows them to learn responsibility and to learn how to think ahead. Their failure is sometimes their failure; more often, it's ours.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We all have a genetic code that underlies our intelligence, our character, and our abilities. However, social scripts and interpersonal relations can be taught and can be relearned. I know that some of my greatest failures as a person and as a professional have been in my interactions with my peers and my supervisors. It's taken me a long, long time to learn to be better at that, and I still have plenty of bad days. I would love to figure out a way to model, for my children, the person that I'd like to be. Does that make sense?

The problem with that sentiment is that it's hard, and my nature is to respond harshly to failure. Changing that response, to acknowledging the progress towards goal even while I take steps to correct the flaws, has been a daily challenge. In the music and artistic world, things tend to be very black or white. That person is better than you, or you're better than them. You're playing the music well, or you're not. You pass an audition, or you don't. It doesn't matter if you are number 2 or number 200. Any flaw in your playing because all-consuming to you, enough that - as a young musician - you lose sleep over it. You obsess over it. You work it through your psyche like sore tooth, by poking at it repeatedly.

I don't want to live that way anymore, so I'm not. I don't want my children to grow up in that environment. I understand that that does come with some side effects; some of the greatest accomplishments in history have been because people have set out to "prove their Daddy wrong," and do great things. Looking at it, that's probably why I initially went into music: because nobody thought I could do it. Long term, they were right, but not for the reasons they suspected. But, I digress.

I want my children to know that I accept them, unconditionally, success or failure. I want them to know that the only requirements are that they try, and that they try hard. Failure is okay; you learn more by failing than you do by succeeding. I will celebrate their successes, whether it's something simple like cleaning up toys or something complicated like potty training or school work. I will comfort them when they fail.

And, it's a much better way to live when we're nicer to each other.



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