From age one you get to marvel at the world anew through their eyes – like watching fast moving, giant, brightly colored train engines careening around the curves at Harper’s Ferry, or the Hollidazzle Parade still dazzling in the drizzling snow, and getting to read out loud your favorite books again.
And there’s teaching – teaching everything from right from wrong to how to lead-off from first base. Teaching responsibility is at the top of the teaching list; and being proud of your kid is at the top of the pleasures list. There are many splendors to recount. For this story I’m going to stick with the worry-about-being-a-good-teacher that transforms into pleasure-upon-success.
When Jack was 2½ , he and I took a walk down the beach at Martinique. I wanted to go for a swim and he agreed to guard my wallet and not wander off. (Yes, I kept my eye on him but) when I got out of the Sea, I made sure to tell him how proud I was of him and what a good job he did being responsible. This paid-off in aces when he was in the Second Grade. The 2nd Grade teacher at French Immersion was going back to France to get married. On the last day of school the parents threw him a going-away and getting-married party at the local watering hole. That day Mr. Limon had had each student write something about what it means to be a good father. My kid was the only one who wrote in French; and here’s what he wrote (as translated into English by Mr. Limon for all the parents in attendance): “A good father teaches his kid responsibility and then gives his kid responsibility.” How Proud Can a Dad Be!!
This coming Spring I will be teaching Jack how to drive (actually he’s already gotten Mitzi into second gear), and it’s still a legitimately debated question in our house as to how much of the teaching should be my way and how much Ellen’s way. I tend to drive at the top end of the speed zone for safety – and I want Jack to find his own safety limits – but El is more inclined to harp on “Go Slow” and certainly not over the posted limit, and she’s right about that. So far in life we’ve had no broken bones, but this is probably more due to plumb good luck than to my way of teaching – It’s for sure if Nick had fallen off the roof and broke his leg, I’d have gotten the blame – Think About That One.
Tomorrow: A Post-Script about Nick