Friday, May 17, 2013

Three Things We Will Teach You

Dear Ian,

We've been going through some stuff around here lately.  That's all I'm going to say about that right now, but it has shown me a lot about what kind of man I want you to grow into and become.  Your Daddy is an amazing role model, and I know you will learn an abundance of things just by watching and being around him.  I do know, however, that somethings need to be taught and experienced for the lessons to sink.  This is the crux of this blog post.  When I look at you, besides seeing the face of my precious little buddy, I see a blank canvas.  A professor I had in college once told me that a child's brain is like a camera; it is up to us adults to aim that camera and hit the shutter button, therefore preserving the memories and experiences we want locked into your memory card.  You are already such a smart little cookie.  You know your letters, simple math, and have an amazing vocabulary.  You understand stuff I still struggle with.  Yet there's really only one thing I really want to pass on to you.  I want you to be a good man.  I want you to grow up honest.  I want you to grow up with honor and integrity.  Yes, I know you are only three.  But three is a good way to learn about how the world works.  Three is a microcosm for the big world of adulthood.  And to be frank, a lot of adult people still act like three-year-olds.  So, here we have the list of things that I think are important for you to learn as you grow into the person we want you to become.

1.   Honesty is tantamount.  Above all else, people need to know what is coming out of your mouth and heart is true.  They need to know that you can be depended upon, believed, and trusted.  Breaking someone's trust is one of the most destructive things you can do.  Period.  Imagine the foundation of a really big building getting a big crack in it.  That crack represents the dishonesty you may have done to someone.  From that crack, little hairline fractures start to appear.  That's the doubt you put in someone's heart after the first dishonest crack.  They start to question your motives; they start wondering if everything coming out of your mouth is a falsehood.  After a while, the whole foundation of the building, the relationship you have with someone, crumbles and the whole thing comes crashing down around you.

Sure, this all probably sounds pretty dramatic to teach to a three year old.  But it's an incredibly important thing to learn.  You fibbed to me recently, and I caught you in it.  It was just a little thing; you said you had done something I told you to do, when I knew full well you hadn't, but Daddy and I turned it into a teachable moment.  We told you the importance of always being honest.  We explained that Mommy and Daddy wouldn't be able to believe even little things you said if you weren't always honest.  We announced that you would be getting in even bigger trouble than with the original offense if we found out you were lying about it.  And I hope we made our point clear.  If not, remind me to tell you the story about Grandma Davis and the kitchen knife...

2.  Going along hand in hand with honesty is Integrity.  The general definition of this is basically doing the right thing no matter what.  Daddy says that someone once told him that integrity isn't doing the right thing when is watching, it's doing the right thing even if NO ONE is watching.  He's so totally right.  It can be so easy to let your morals and values slide when you think it's just you in the situation.  But you need to remember that it's not just you;  we are raising you to know that God is watching.  And that stain of losing your integrity will always be on your heart.  Daddy and I don't want you to ever live with regret, and the weight of regretting a decision that caused someone to question your integrity is extremely heavy.  People will depend on you and respect you.  This is their way of saying that they have confidence in you to do the right thing.  Your goal as an adult is to make sure no one ever has to worry about placing their confidence in you. Consider it an honor when people think so highly of you, because it is an honor.

3.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and this is what it means to me:  Daddy and I want you to grow up being respectful.  We want you to show deference to your elders and people that have shared your experiences before you.  We want you to show that you respect us by obeying our directions and living your life to be a good example of how you were raised.  What I mean by this is that you are a walking product of the things that Daddy and I have taught and will teach you.  When you show others that your parents raised you to be honest, honorable and capable, you are showing respect.  It means that you have listened, observed and applied the lessons we passed on.  Nothing would make us more proud.  When you appreciate the things that you have been given and the opportunities that present themselves to you, you are showing respect.  Constantly demanding more and living a life that others would NOT want to emulate is, to us, a sign of total disrespect to those who tried to teach you better.

On the same vein, we also want you to respect yourself.  We want you to have the sense of self-worth to walk away from a situation that you know is wrong.  We want you to show that you are confident enough in yourself to turn your back on something that isn't going to help move you in the right direction.  This means choosing friends that are good people or walking away from someone has brought toxicity into your life.  Standing up for yourself is the same as respecting yourself.  And here we sorta loop back to integrity and honesty again, too.

I know that I have posted the words of Rudyard Kipling's poem, If, in this blog before.  (Here it is if you want to go back to it)  It's a simple poem, but it speaks volumes.  And its words express exactly what I am trying to say in this post.  Honestly, integrity, respect and humility go along way in a world where people seem to have forgotten it.  All it takes is the simple action of being true.  And if there's anything in the whole wide world of parenting that I can pass on to you, it would be this.

I know you have such a bright future ahead of you, and you already make us so proud.
Mommy and Daddy

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