My Son Makes Me Cry and My Daughter Makes Me Laugh

We had just finished watching a family movie. All four of us are cuddled on the couch as the credits roll. My 5-year-old son nonchalantly says, “Hey guys, I know which one of us is going to die first,” as he points his finger in my direction.

I’m eating breakfast the next morning when my 6-year-old daughter runs into the kitchen. She says, “Hey dad, I just had a really silly experience.” I ask about her silly experience. She says, “I sneezed and farted at the same time.”

Anger Management Strategy from a 6-Year-Old

Like all parents, I was eating breakfast with my young children and quizzing them in the subject of mathematics.

There was one particularly difficult question that my 5-year-old son was struggling with. My 6-year-old jumped in and gave an answer. My son got angry. He stormed out of the room and started screaming and throwing things.

My daughter said, “Sam, you need to roll that anger into a ball and throw it out the window.”

I asked her where she learned that good strategy. She said her teacher.

I applaud those who have an awareness of their feelings and use calming techniques before they lose their cool. And I especially applaud the primary teachers who teach children these strategies.

Lego and Change

My 5-year-old son loves building with Lego, and for a 5-year-old, he’s pretty good at it. Sometimes, I’ll be staring at the instructions and he’ll already have the right piece in the right place. His mind sees how little pieces come together to make something whole.

My son recently had a birthday party, and of course, he got some new Lego.

“Dad, can you help me build this?”

“Let’s eat the birthday cake first.”

“Okay. Then can we build it?”

“Sure.”

We scatter all the pieces into an open container, open the instruction booklet, and start building. He’s very focused, but like most kids, his attention span is not very long. Sometimes, I look up and he’s no longer there. Other times, he’ll ask me to complete the creation.

The last time it was a dinosaur. Unlike my son, I don’t love building with Lego. Sometimes it’s painful locating a particular piece and figuring out where it goes. Anyway, after a little hard work I completed the dinosaur.

“Check it out, buddy.”

“Good job, Dad. Now let’s take it apart and build a different dinosaur!”

“But it took me so long to build this one! Let’s just keep it for a while.”

“No, Dad. Let’s take it apart and build something else.”

It’s then when I realize it’s not about the creation. It’s about the creating. It’s not about admiring the creation. It’s about taking it apart and creating something better. It’s not about constancy, but fluidity. It’s about building something with the pieces we are given and once it’s built, using the pieces again to build something even better. It’s about improvement. It’s about growth. And it’s about spending time with my son.

Losing Teeth and Change

My 6-year-old daughter was eating mint chip ice cream when she bit something hard.

My daughter had lost her first tooth.

It was an important milestone, but she was sad.

I asked, “Earlier you said that you didn’t want to lose your wiggly tooth because you were worried about how it might look.”

She said, “It’s not that, dad. I just don’t like change.”

Interesting, coming from a six-year-old. It reminded me of something my colleague said recently to students transitioning from high school to college, and I had my daughter repeat it.

With change comes opportunity.

Losing a tooth that you’ve had for most of your life is hard. It may hurt a little. It may bleed a little. You look into a mirror and things have changed. You may be sad. You may be scared. The gap is wide. The hole is deep. The wound is tender. But you’ve made way for something bigger, something better, something stronger. And when you realize it, you smile a little differently.