Archive for August, 2013

Of Mirrors, Water & Restaurants

braver rain289

This column first appeared in the July 2013 issue of Forsyth Family magazine:

When I came home from work the other day, Garnet told me that Doobins had said to her, “I’m going to teach my kids everything I know. Does that worry you?”

I laughed and added it to my “That Doobins is a Funny Guy” file.

As it happens, what I want to teach Sparkle Girl and Doobins was already on my mind. What started me down that path was thinking about Sparkle Girl going to high school this year. Before we know it, she’s going to out on her own, and, if I have anything I want to make a point of saying, I need to make sure I do say it before she is off to college or whatever.

I know that Sparkle Girl will learn much of what she needs to know from going to church and watching everyone in her life live their lives and from talking about things as they come up day-to-day. Lately, though, I have found myself supplementing all that with little lectures on such topics as the importance of doing what you say you’re going to do. I try to keep them short.

After I went off to college, one thing I wished someone had told me was how painful life can be. My girlfriend had dumped me, and I guess I thought it would have helped if an adult in my life had taken me aside beforehand and warned me how much life can hurt. I told myself that, if I ever had kids, I would certainly warn them.

I’m no longer sure about that. For one, I realized that, in jokes and stories about life that people told, the warnings were there and that the pain is just something that people have to experience on their own. I also learned that many people had experienced it much earlier in life and that I was a lucky guy not to have had anything truly painful happen until I was in college.

For the moment, my plan now is just to do everything I can do to ensure that they feel comfortable enough to talk with me whenever anything comes up.

One thing that I do wish I could pass along is the understanding that some of life’s greatest pleasures and satisfactions are to be found in little moments that are there and gone so you want to pay attention and savor them at the time. It took me a while to learn that. Here again, though, you learn in your own time. If it were just a matter of hearing it, I could have learned it from a Hallmark card when I was 7.

Only later did it occur to me to ask Garnet what she had said in response to Doobins.

“That doesn’t worry me because I know you know a lot of good things,” she said.

I asked Doobins what he plans to teach his kids. He said that he plans to teach them how to splash water from the bathroom sink onto the mirror. “But don’t ever do it in a restaurant,” he said. “It wouldn’t be polite.”

It sounds as if his kids will be in good hands.