Life does not come with a user manual. But why?
This series of posts is addressed to my baby daughter and documents the aspects of life that I should have learned at school but didn’t.
The World says Hello
This week, you were born. The angels, wise wild animals from the depths of the jungle, fairies, elves, and wizards came by to welcome you to this endlessly fascinating world. They also gave us lots of advice about your magical powers and supernatural destiny, but that is not relevant now.
Today, I’m writing to let you know about all my good intentions. I know life can be bumpy sometimes, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to stay the course and be a half-decent dad. My dad (grandpa Robert) was an amazing example, and I can only hope I can play the same role for you.
I have no experience of growing up as a girl, so I will probably behave awkwardly at times (or all the time). But I’m also a firm believer that there is no such thing as ‘girly’ or ‘boy’ things and games. We’ll have tons of fun dressing up our dog for the ball, hiking, pointing out this funny bird, building tables, and whatever else will captivate us both.
I think all parents start with good intentions and high hopes of being there for their children. But good adults, good parents, and good people sometimes do stupid things (quite often actually).
We sometimes convince ourselves that the best way to do a [good thing] is to suffer through a [bad thing] first. For example:
- “I need to work plenty of overtime, sacrificing playtime so my family is wealthy and my baby can have a good life.“
- “We cannot stay and watch the leaves fall because we have to rush to the pottery class so that my baby can do something interesting.”
- “I need to teach my baby respect so that she can appreciate me.”
If you stop and think you may discover that the thing in front of you is what you were seeking all along and this convoluted game in your head is useless.
I have to note that daddy is not super smart here. This is a very often repeated lesson – something we call a cliche.
But we adults forget things all the time, especially the cliches we hear a lot. We like to pretend we are so smart that these basic lessons are beyond us. And that is what I need your help with.
I need you to help me remember these basic lessons and make me stop and think about them with you. We, adults, are always in a hurry and in our heads. But you are smart and not yet tainted by the adult ways of thinking. I encourage you to try to stay that way.
Many adults like to play the “I have this figured out” game. It’s like playing house or any pretending – we act as if we know everything, we dole out advice, and act like we are better than everyone who admits they don’t know.
It’s only a game and the truth is that we’re all learning – just as you. I’m here a little bit longer but don’t have all the answers yet. I hope I can answer your questions thoughtfully and admit when I don’t know. “Because I say so” is never a good answer and you should not accept it from anybody – even from Daddy.
My final ask is that you have some patience for Mommy and Daddy. We are sometimes tired or hungry and say things we don’t mean (like “because I say so”). You will do things you don’t mean when you are tired too. As I said – I’m here a little longer, but otherwise, I’m a child too.
I’m sure the next few decades we spend together will be filled with fun and learning. They are the same thing really.
Your loving Daddy.