Tiff’s dad had surgery last week and is in the hospital, so she needed to go back to Texas and help him with his recovery. Along with that, her sister is 9 months pregnant, stepfather had quadruple bypass and uncle had a heart attack in the same week. They have their hands full holding the fort up North, while I keep the troops happy down here for the next three weeks. It’s pretty amazing how cool it is to know that no matter what is put in front of you, you’ll be able to handle it. Not having her has brought a whole new dynamic to understanding our family dynamic. My wife is absolutely the most passionate, loving and professional person I have ever met. They say you can tell how well kids are parented, by the way they behave when the parent is not there. I am so proud of my wife and the things we have done together.
The last few days I have been helping my buddy out at his hotel getting things going. The kids have had to pretty much take care of themselves for almost a week now, and are so responsible it makes me smile. I don’t want my oldest daughter to feel like she is responsible for everyone, so I have been giving them different areas of responsibility, but to work together as one team. They have been helping me at the grocery store and around the house keeping things clean and flowing smoothly. Tiff is a great mom and I can really appreciate all the effort she puts in raising them and really teaching them about the details of life. It is critically important that couples are just that, couples. Not meaning two, but connected, coupled like a train (I think that term got lost or changed over time). It’s easy to see that even left on their own, our kids have tremendous values and love for each other. They even get mad at me when I am out of line with one of them. The others come to their defense, it’s pretty cool.
One thing these guys have showed me, is that life is so much easier when we commit to each other and stick together. Maybe it’s that we are in a different country and have no choice. Or that they are without their mom who really is the anchor of their days, but they have a friendship and adhesion that is really amazing when they are on their own. Being by ourselves right now, I have to slow things down and really put more time into keeping them moving and learning. One thing I decided, is that I will not get upset with them. I don’t know why it seemed hard before, but I just don’t do it anymore. I also try to see things on their level, and laugh a lot more. Why are these just simple decisions I didn’t choose before? If there is one thing in my life I could truly have back, it’s the ability to dream on a kids level. We don’t have to compromise because of money, but instead use the creativity and ingenuity we all have inside. We grab for excuses and argue for them. We validate them with non-sense and teach that as a standard. We don’t need to have any point of view to defend or sell, we can be still and watch things happen. When I dropped all the opinions, and allowed others to have theirs, all hostility disappeared. Not that we want life to happen to us, but enjoy and let go in the areas of your life that you can. Your kids will show you what joy is. Leave the worry at home, and follow your kids lead. You will have fun. Get rid of telling your kids, “you can’t do this” or “don’t do that”, unless it’s really something they shouldn’t be doing. It’s so much more freeing for everyone. Trust that they have more to teach you about life than anything you’ve learned. In fact, you probably (like me) need to unlearn a few things. I try to ask them every day at breakfast, if you could do anything in the world today, what would it be? They are never short of answers, and it’s all the stuff that makes boys boys, girls girls and dreams big.
My life to this point (like most people) is about what I would accept. Not what I wanted, not what my goals were. It’s what I decided was good enough and rationalized the short coming. I think for the most part, my ego wouldn’t let me learn, because I knew it all and if I didn’t, I pretended I did. My wife brought simple truth into my life. Literally being truthful, completely and unequivocally. Good outputs come from good inputs, it’s that simple. She has taught our kids a very black and white view of life. They know what the truth is, and they know that life gets harder when we start straying from that road. I see in our children, the want for things just like any kid, but they have an ability to determine a value in their terms. They have identities, and like my buddy Tim Speedy said, “You can’t argue with them when they’re right,” and he’s right. Be a kid, you can be an old one, but don’t whine, don’t complain and don’t make excuses (John Wooden’s 2 sets of 3), and when you hear it, don’t endulge, as it’ll take the good things from you.
This life is the only one you’re getting, so go make a fool of yourself. Until you redefine what that means, you have to call it “making a fool of yourself”. The truth is, the things that you want to do, are the things YOU want to do, but want is such a weak word. The point that you start to pull back is the battle line. I work with a few pro athlete’s on their mental conditioning, so it’s the only way I can make real connections to life. Simply put, if your game is stalling out at the same point for the same reason, time and time again, you know exactly what the problem is and what your job is. You know what you have to work on and it’s typically perceptions of situations. Don’t fear these situations, welcome them. welcome them and change them. When would you stop trying to walk? You wouldn’t. Attack what’s in front of you, and redefine what these things mean. They don’t mean failure or rejection, but instead mean adventure and possibility. So, do like your kids would, and go play. One thing is for certain…..you will die at some point. Know that and fear only regret. Not that I am an authority on life, I just love to see people happy. It’s what makes my life full. It’s like were paid to sit still and do nothing. Break through the things that divert your focus or control your moves; those voices in your head, challenge them. You get one today. To think tomorrow will come one day soon, is another lie. Tomorrow will be another tomorrow. We have about 60,000 thoughts a day. The sad thing is 95% of them are the same ones we had yesterday.
Remembering what it was like, is what I’m talking about in finding the kid. I was recently listening to White Lion “Radar Love” and I couldn’t help but think how much life for me is brought back by those hanging, flowing guitar riffs. The hot summer days by the river in Elmira, New York, praying and dreaming of a bigger life. We’d get up in the morning, eat and split as fast as we could. We would ride bikes, fish, swim and anything that came along. We didn’t care about eating or having money to spend, and were somehow able to fill our days with non-stop play. We would meet up at Bill Stowell’s house and play basketball, skateboard, and watch movies ’til we crashed on the couch, then do it all again the next day. I still vividly remember the smell of of the lush green grass at 7 in the morning, the dew glistening in the sun and the cold feel of wet Chuck Taylors on my feel as I tried to step and not slide my feet in early morning air. Fishing pole in one hand, tackle box in the other, hurrying along to keep up with my buddies on bikes. The world was ready for us, and we were ready for it. Getting away from the houses and heading toward the river, we entered our world when the pavement ended to dirt. Fallen trees ensured that anyone who followed had to do so on foot or bike. I still can hear the rustling in the bushes and the call of “Annie, go get em”. Annie was Bill’s dog, and she would flush birds all day long. We had it made, and would take that vibrance of life to the corners of the world and seek adventure. But there’s something different about being young, and not having anything in mind but to be included in the fun. Every minute of those days, we were doing something, or getting ready to do something. Looking back, I wish I had all the stuff I used to have, but awareness of how lucky I was.
We all have dreams, we just put them at bay until we retire. You choose every aspect of your life: what you’ll accept, what you’ll give to others, and in the end how you’ll be viewed as a parent by your children. You’ll never escape this. Every parent I have ever talked to, inevitably has some type of guilt about things they could have done better. But it’s how the kid views the parent that matters. As parents, we are all heroes when we start out. You have to work pretty hard to get your kids to not like you. Coach them, don’t train them. Draw out their personalities and “raise” them. I will leave you with one thought: if you argue with a 2-year old, you’ve already lost. Don’t stop playing! Set that example, and your kids will model you.