It’s a very big week for Mrs. Wager and myself as our son turns one on Saturday. Baby Wager has now fared much better than the multitudes of fish and plant life that have had the misfortune to be placed in my care. I am enjoying the fatherhood experience more than I could have possibly imagined, but I’m afraid that I’m starting in the middle of the story again.
About nine years ago, I was working on a project with a guy in his thirties (and he seemed old to me at the time). Let’s call him Ego Maniac (not his real name). One day, he had just got off the phone with his wife and was shaking his head in disappointment. I tentatively asked if everything was alright.
Ego Maniac sighed and said yes, it’s just that his son was a bit of a disappointment to him. I was blown away by this statement. I pressed EM a little further. “How so?”
“He’s just more into video games and band than he is into sports.”
“Is he healthy? Does he get in trouble? Is he doing OK in school?”
EM shook his head at me condescendingly, “You don’t understand, we’re just nothing alike.”
I was horrified. “Why should he be an exact clone of you? Shouldn’t he find his own way in life so long as he isn’t doing stuff to hurt himself and others?”
Ego Maniac paused and asked me, hypothetically, if I had a son, would I have him circumcised? I immediately answered yes.
He gained confidence. “See? You would want your son to look like you!”
I didn’t even hesitate when I countered with, “That has nothing to do with it. I’d just like for him to have the opportunity to get a blow job in sixteen or seventeen years.”
I was a long way off from becoming a parent at that point in my life, but I started to think about it a lot after that conversation. I decided that my goal as a parent would be to help my child learn how to make good decisions. Good decisions do not need to be the decisions that I would make, but decisions that would lead him or her down a path towards their own happiness.
I happen to really like sports. I feel that my high school life was enhanced through sports. I gained confidence and grew my social network by being involved in a sports program. However, should Baby Wager not like sports and choose to participate in band – that’s OK with me. Band is a good decision. He can learn confidence from band, be around other students with common interests, interact with other adults, and it looks good on a college resume. It might not be what I want for myself, but so long as he makes good decisions, I am successful as a parent.
I wholeheartedly believe in discipline. My son will learn that his decisions have consequences. The more good decisions he makes, the more freedom he will be given. If he starts making bad decisions, he will find he has less and less privileges. If I am successful, he will leave our home equipped to find his way in the world and care for himself.
I will not, however, threaten him with “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.” It’s stupid, cruel and not true unless I’m willing to face murder charges. I will not expect him to revere me. His respect will be earned. There will be times when he will not like me and I’m sure those will be the most difficult times as a parent. It’s part of my job.
I guess that’s how me and the fictional Yahweh differ. Yahweh created humanity so that they could revere him and he constantly gets disappointed with His own creation. The moment they stop worshipping Him, he’s ready to flood the earth or commit some other act of genocide. Yahweh plays favorites amongst His children and wants to keep them from attaining success. See Tower of Babel. As for me, my child and I have years to figure out who he is. It is my goal to ensure that he is successful on his terms and reaches his potential, not mine.