This morning, Ry wanted to listen to some music by “White Face,” a heavy metal rock band that plays music on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie soundtrack. So he and J were trying to dance around to it, but it was almost 8 a.m. and time to leave for school. So I switched from talking to my wife about an article in the New York Times about “slow medicine” for the elderly to wildly gyrating my hips, legs, and arms and began playing the meanest air guitar imaginable. Ry’s eyes grew very large, J smiled and bounced, and then they tried to keep up with me as I arched my back while on my knees continuing to rock. They wanted me to continue but I needed a shot of oxygen to breath.
I know Ry will ask me to do that silly movement again. My two young sons have made me aware that they are always watching me. Despite my fantasy that I can disappear into a sea of words and ideas online, they notice everything I do. “Are you wearing your work belt, today Daddy?” J asks me as I’m putting on my clothes for work. When I’m at the computer trying to write, Ry will pop his head in, “whatcha doin dadio?” and then by the time I attempt to answer, he’s chasing Ed the cat.
As parents,we have tremendous power to influence and shape our children’s experience of the world by what we do and say. Personally, I believe we communicate more by our actions than our words. I think we like to believe if we explain and explain again and again and again, then children will pay attention to our words and somehow ignore what they actually see. Who can blame us? Who wants to consider how our actions today may impact on their futures tommorrow. Insert Whitney Houston, pre-Bobby Brown, singing, “I believe the children are our future.”As I pontificate, I can hear the lady with a curly perm,wearing a white sweat shirt with two teddy bears holding hands, carrying a few too many shopping bags, and a tub of Jay’s caramel popcorn stand up and support me by ranting, “You go son!! you’re expected to have a license to drive, but anyone can be a parent!”