Daddyhood: Children and Expectations

Nolan concerned over the Sourdough Starter's "Death"

Nolan concerned over the Sourdough Starter’s “Death”

I’m watching my son while he watches T.V. These moments of observation will become rare as he gets older and begins to demand his own privacy, mostly likely in his room, then the inevitable abandonment of dependence as he moves throughout his early and later teen years.

At the moment, I’m content to think of none of those troubling thoughts. The future is murky, and best not studied too closely. I live more in the present than most people, I think. It is a result of many years of uncertainty, of poverty as a child and again in my twenties, although the latter was self-imposed and provided me with a sense of invulnerability and confidence in my ability to survive.

Now, I am just grateful for every day. I’m overwhelmed by the responsibility placed upon my shoulders by this gift of a son. I’ve learned to adapt, even in two short years. At first, I swore he would never watch television. I conceded my point and found an alliance: Internet television provided me with the ability to filter movies and shows and disable advertisement, which is mostly aimed at providing empty calories exploited by the remnants of arms manufactures held over past their prime after WWII and the Cold War no longer needed their services to render standing objects into their atomic states.

I am mostly uneasy that these same government sponsored entities are now entrusted with the nutrition of our children through subsidized global farming and the proliferation of cheap food ingredients. So far, I have held fast to my goal of never serving my child processed or “fast” food. Will this last? As long as I can make it my decision, it will. When it is his decision? Of course he will eat McDonalds, Taco Bell and Burger King. Hopefully, these institutions will have attempted to clean up their act by then, but that is only hope.

Of course, these foodstuffs won’t kill him. Not immediately. But what about painkillers? Or mutating strains of virus? What about the legalization of marijuana? I have long been of the opinion that it doesn’t matter – how do I feel now?

What about alcohol? What are my expectations for him? To never drink, not anything, not ever? That is most likely irrational. But, my own battles with addiction make it hard to think of the substance and my son in the same cogitation. The parallels are too great.

My sister says that expectations destroy free thinking and self-discovery. I agree. If my expectations, like my parents were, are for my son to somehow “better” himself in the American dream of increased wealth and disposable income, will that blind him to other paths? Will he simply revolt, as I did? My parents’ expectations of me were finally rendered null and void in a fury of disobedience and wanton self-destruction as I shrugged off the mantel of religion and short-term success. I chose a lifestyle far different than they had hoped, and even today they are somewhat confused by me, as all parents are by their children.

My father says that without expectations, the child will spiral in an endless void, with no goals to lead them or concerns to shape their personality. I agree. Without my parents’ expectations, I would have nothing to strive for non against as a young person. I would have had no direction, no meaning, just adrift in a current not of my own making, riding it through life, obeying the immediate whims of my conscious, as opposed to making my own way. I chose the dark paths at times, just for the experience of choice and the journey more difficult.

Will this impact my son? What will I do for him?

I will just be there, every day I can, teach him what little I know, and pray for wisdom. He is growing and changing every day – I can barely keep up.

I’m going to keep previewing what he watches on T.V. I will give him a tablet device, as it is part of his world, no matter how much I dislike it. I would not raise him to be wantonly ignorant, wallowing in the pride and self-righteousness of religious cults and hierarchy. My great hope if for him to be experienced and wise beyond his years, following his parents in a careful journey of this world.

I want him to be computer savvy. I also hope that he will have the ability to shoulder a small pack, vanish into the world and be o.k., better than o.k. I hope he will be able to tango and split wood. I hope he can speak multiple languages and be at ease in any environment. I want him to be well traveled, yet grateful for home. I want him to be able to grow his own food, harvest his own protein, yet appreciate the sacrifices the earth makes to provide for him.

Is all this too much to ask? I don’t know. I’m just a Dad.

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