Saturday, July 30, 2011
Yeah, obvious and often thought of as obligatory.
With the exception of my daughter, I have never been with someone every single day of their life.
Seeing mine and Kari's physical, emotional, and personal qualities in our daughter is frightening and exhilarating, for both real and imagined reasons.
However, seeing her unique traits come to the surface is what I mean while writing I am enjoying getting to know my daughter.
As most of you know, there is a simple, hard to describe joy in watching our children grow up. It is more like joy mixed with contentment.
This wonderful mix of simple, contented joy influences other areas of my life. Certainly diet, spending habits, and my thoughts on all things education are put into sharp relief when I watch my daughter giggle after going down a slide.
Yeah, obvious and often thought of as obligatory...
But I am really enjoying getting to know my daughter, and myself.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
One of the reasons I adore fatherhood is because it is the definition of what Paulo Freire called praxis. Unlike the other things in life that often involve theory and practice being mutually exclusive, fatherhood lets me engage my pedagogical learnings as a professional educator and shake them into a cocktail of reality.
Oh, and lest I forget autonomy. My most frustrating times as a passion-driven teacher or artist have always involved negotiating difficulties with collaboration, bureaucracy, or politics. Thanks in large part to my goddess of a wife, I rarely have these incidents of creative blockage.
I approach my teacher-dad life as science and art. What about you?
Saturday, July 2, 2011
When we go to Colorado, my kids have a chance to experience a few things we miss in the suburbs:
1. Mortality: When we spend time outdoors, we ultimately run into death. It might be a fresh carcass or dried bones, however it ultimately leads to a discussion about life, death and why we exist. Perhaps a dried carcass sounds morbid and maybe there's some validity in avoiding the morbid. However, I'm thinking that maybe it's crazier to hand a child a hunk of flesh shrink wrapped and placed on styrofoam so that he never fully comprehends our relationship with other organisms. I want my children to believe that death is real and that life matters.
2. Stars: When living in the suburbs, the sky becomes manageable, the universe tame. The moon never moves beyond a horizon, creating the "optical illusion" of being larger than life (though I might argue that it's more of an illusion to think we can shrink the moon by framing it between two skyscrapers). I want to see Joel and Micah gasp at the vast canvas of innumerable stars and I want to watch Brenna reach her hands out and attempt to grasp the universe with reckless abandon. I want them to be bold and humble. Stars play a role in this.
3. Open Space: My kids live in a place of constant freedom. They've turned a suburban backyard into a mud pit, a dragon fortress, a baseball field, an edible jungle and a Jedi Academy. In Colorado, they get to run as far as they want without running into a fence, looking both ways to cross a road or questioning who the land belongs to. Right now, it's their land.
4. Affectionate Parents: Sometimes we get into a habit of playing zone defense with the kids. We multi-task. We compartmentalize. And if we're not careful, it feels a little less like a relationship and more like running an efficient organization. Then on a road trip, I'll slip my hand around Christy's side or she'll place her hand on my knee while she drives and I watch Joel or Micah take notice. They study it silently - the gestures, the eye contact. We don't spell it out for them, but they sense intuitively that we're in love - which might ultimately make for the greatest sense of safety they can experience.
5. Uninterrupted Play: I had the chance for 3-D, interactive, educational games without worrying about laundry or cleaning the kitchen. My favorite Luddite App so far? The story app allows us to collectively tell either a shared experience or an entirely fictional narrative. I want them to internalize the message that even if there are ugly, contentious moments in cramped-up car rides, there isn't anyone I'd rather be with on my free time. Fuck the test or the Little League win or the popularity pissing contest. You'll always have a place here, kiddos.
Bonus Gift: At some point, I won't pay attention. I'll hurl a careless word and I'll come alongside Joel or Brenna or Micah. I'll help pull out the shrapnel. I'll wipe away tears. I'll hold them tightly and I'll tell apologize.