It is easy to forget that even though they are living with me day in and day out, my kids were not with me during my younger years. Funny how we tend to tell stories to our friends in order to liven up a conversation or give them access to our past, yet sometimes we miss out on a great opportunity to share the same part of ourselves with our children. We complain that they are disconnected and into their own worlds, yet we fail to realize that one of the few ways to bring them into our world is for us to share our history with them.
47 years have gone by in a blink of an eye, but there must be some good stories to share that can contribute to my goal of reaching out to my boys and finding some common ground between us. I had some of the most wonderful life experiences any teenage boy could dream of. Through middle school and high school I always found ways to get myself into and out of trouble without leaving much of a trace. I confess that my weakness had absolutely nothing to do with drinking and much less using any sort of illegal drug. However girls, oh my God, that was an entirely different story. Nothing occupied more space in my hormone raging body and mind than the thought of some cute girl. At one point in time I think I must of been in what then seemed like love with at least ten girls at the same time. How could anyone expect me to be able to pick just one? They were all just gorgeous to me, and what one might lack in physical attributes, she then made up for in the tone of her voice, the smell of her hair, or her beautiful smile. I was never too picky because for me they were almost all just perfect in one way or another. My young minded theory was, why focus on what is wrong when you can focus on what is most definitely right about a girl!
Soon I found myself graduating from high school a year early for one single reason, of course, the girl I was in love with was a year older than me and headed to college. One way or another, running towards or running away, but girls were the common denominator in all of my teenage life equations. Then it hit me, if I thought that high school had lots of cute girls, college was even a greater source of those wondrous creatures that only God could of made so damn perfect. I must of had an amazing mind, otherwise how in the world did I ever get such good grades in college when my head was constantly exploding with so much nonsense. I think that having a steady girlfriend really helped, otherwise I would of been so preoccupied about meeting a new girl every week that there would of been very little time to focus on anything else. Eventually she transferred to the University of Mississippi, which is why I moved from Puerto Rico a year after and headed to beautiful Ole Miss. Like I said before, if you are ever looking for a decision that made very little sense, look again, there was probably a young lady tied to my mental processor.
Eventually I did finish college, got my engineering degree, and joined the rest of the world in the not so joyful adulthood life full of responsibilities. I must of made a million and one mistakes in that path that I took headed to reality, in which every single one contains a lesson to be shared with my kids. As I have said before, I am deeply sorry for any and all of those that I might of hurt on my way to become a man, however, I do thank you for the lesson since it is because of you that today I am a better person. It is also because of all of those lessons that I am now able to share my colorful life with my children and teach them what is the most significant differences between being a boy and being a man. In looking at the above photograph I am certain that the wild child that roamed inside me during my own teenage years must be a part of the same creature that lives inside of my kids today. The same free spirit that was finally tamed with age and responsibility still carries in me not just the lessons that made me a man, but also the adventures that drove me towards my dreams and aspirations. I know that these adventures are kin to my teenage boy’s impulses, so why not connect the dots and make them work for us to be closer instead of farther apart.
The lesson, if there is one to be shared on this post, is to not just chastise your children with examples of how in your days things were different. Reach a little deeper, be a little more honest not just with yourself, but also with them. Tell them about yourself with respect to the things that are still the same. Find the similarities in your personalities, the common ground that will allow you to walk together once in a while and bond between each other. Don’t sugar coat your mistakes, tell them as they really happen so that they can value your sincerity, your honesty, your respect for their minds. They are not just kids, they are your kids! If you do not give in to the true facts of your own childhood, teenage years, and eventually adulthood, who will be able to teach them those lessons instead? This is your job, your duty, and most of all your responsibility. Not school, teachers, church, or ministers and priests…nobody but you can make that connection deep enough to make a real difference. The next time that they walk up to you and say “dad, I’m bored…” instead of digging in your mind for something to do, dig in your heart for something to share. Tell them the stupid things you did that cost you much more than money. If your life has been anything like mine, then it must be full of adventures that once shared with your children will become the stories that find a way to fill some of the blank pages in their own minds. After all, I see nothing wrong with my life being the preface to theirs.