A few days ago I was play wrestling with my three year old son on the floor when he very suddenly shoved his finger into my eye socket. He poked it really hard with a great big smile on his face. I had to leave the room and go and bite a pillow, and give myself a few seconds to cool down. I admit, I was pretty ticked. We were having fun, why did he have to go and stick his finger in my eye? I didn’t realize it at the time, but what he was really doing was looking for some answers.
What happens when I stick my finger in dad’s eye?
Does he get angry?
Do I get in trouble?
What exactly does an eyeball feel like anyway?
These are all great questions and I’m sure my son learned exactly what happens when you stick your finger in your dad’s eye that day. I’m glad I could teach you that valuable lesson son.
I’m a newish dad. I have two boys; my youngest is three and my eldest is almost six. They are exploring their world and learning more and more each day, and so am I.
About a week after being poked in the eye, it was my eldest son’s turn to blindside me. He wasn’t nearly as physical though. On the 7-minute drive from karate class, he hit me with a series of questions that left me scrambling. I tried to respond to each question with an honest and informative response, but each response led to a subsequent question, more complicated than the one before it. The questions went something like this:
“Dad, why do things explode?”
“What is the biggest bomb ever invented?”
“Why was it invented?”
“Why is there war?”
“What is religion?”
“Do you believe in heaven?”
I quickly found myself in a situation that I really should have studied for. In a matter of 7 minutes we covered physics and chemistry, history, politics, geography, cultural differences, war, philosophy, death, and finally faith and religion. I did my best to answer, but give me a break, these are some difficult questions! Regardless, I suppose I passed the little quiz. He seemed content with my weak physics, spotty history, questionable geography, and utterly confusing attempts to generalize philosophy and religion.
I knew well before my boys were born that I wanted to be a dad, but I really wanted to be good dad, a dad that doesn’t yell or get angry, a dad that is supportive and patient, a dad that is caring and loving, a dad that is a good role model and has answers to all kinds of questions. What surprised me, is how difficult this was…how difficult this is. I love my boys more than anything and I want them to grow up to be strong, confident, and caring men. I want to give them everything, but I worry that if I do that they are going to grow up to be selfish and greedy. I want to inform them, without scaring them. I want to nurture their imagination and creativity, but be well grounded and astute. I want to show them love and teach them respect.
In the end, I’m left with so many questions. How do you do all of this? How do be a great dad? I really have no idea. If you have it all figured out, please tell me. In the meantime, I’ll just do my best to answer their questions.
Thankfully I’m not doing it alone. I’m lucky to have a smart and caring partner in all of this to help keep me calm, sane and reassured. I’m also lucky to have a Dad of my own to ask. He doesn’t have all the answers either, and that is okay.
Director of Development
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada