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There are few better experiences than sitting on the couch with one of my kids, with my arm around them as they read about Venus fly traps, sea otters, Captain Underpants or any one of a hundred random things.
To help them with the difficult words.
To hear the inflection in their voices.
To explain the concepts that don’t make sense to an 8-year-old.
To see them looking up for approval.
Karen and I have three wonderful kids who are growing older before our very eyes.
Hayden is 11 early next year and Madison and Logan turn 8 on Monday, yet it still seems as though it was yesterday when we were holding their tiny frames in our arms.
As we look ahead, there are certain things that I want our kids to inherit from us and they don’t include large houses, fancy cars or fat bank accounts.
So here are 10 things that I would like them to inherit from Karen and I: Read the rest of this entry »
I want them to occasionally play against kids who are much bigger than them in an unfair match-up.
I want the referee to get it wrong with them sometimes.
I don’t want them to get 100% for every spelling or maths test.
I don’t want them to master every piano piece on the first attempt.
I recently read a fantastic interview with Richmond AFL footballer, Ivan Maric, who said of his upbringing, “There was a lot of what I call “invisible learning” through seeing my parents work really, really hard to pay our school fees and put food on the table.”
What a great phrase. Invisible learning.
Every child does it.
You can tell your children about the value of hard work and discipline, but it’s how hard your kids see you work that matters.
Yesterday afternoon, my 10 year old son Hayden said that he didn’t think that he would be able to make it to the AFL (Australia’s highest league for Australian rules football). He thought that maybe a lower league was more achievable.
I looked at him with pride and said, “Let’s not put a ceiling on that goal just yet, the sky is still the limit, so let’s keep training hard and see what happens.”
Maybe he won’t make it to the AFL.
Maybe he will get distracted and try something else.
Maybe he won’t put the work in or just doesn’t have the talent.
Maybe he will get injured and that will hold him back.
But I’m not going to put a cap on his (or my other kids’) aspirations.
I remember it well.
I held out my hand, quivering with fear and anticipation.
And a little hand, no more than a minute old reached out and grabbed my index finger.
“G’day mate.” I uttered.
And so, Hayden was born.
And I became a dad.
And my life changed forever.
Hayden turned 10 today.
He told them that athletes make decisions, not sacrifices to be successful.
In Emma’s words, “If you think that having a healthy diet is a sacrifice then you’re wrong, yes moving away from family and spending time on your own is hard, but it’s a decision and you can choose not to do it.”
It struck me that I use the word sacrifice too much.
I’m currently reading Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy and he talked about how parents get so busy with our lives that we end up giving our kids leftovers.
They get our leftover time and our leftover energy, and I couldn’t help but be challenged myself that it’s time to change this.
I don’t want my kids to get whatever time I have leftover after all of my other activities. It infers to them that they aren’t important enough to prioritise.
To witness their smiles and laughter on Christmas morning is a wonderful experience.
So what do I want for my kids this Christmas?
Not expensive presents, although we want to bless our kids with nice things.
Not an abundance of gifts, with too many to choose from.
Not the latest, coolest gadgets.
I just want them to have enough.
“The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls. It’s imagination that counts.
A lot of boys like doll houses, they’re more human than spaceships.
A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than doll houses.
The most important thing is to put the right material in their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.”