Tag Archives: choice

Madame Leota’s Crystal Ball Says. . .

We are all time travelers: moving into the future second by second.

Which does us absolutely no good at all as far as planning for the future goes because we can’t see the future until it’s the present and then it’s too late to change it into anything but the past.

Ugh. Time travel makes my head hurt.

Anyway, I was reminded about this issue recently when I was discussing with She Who Must Be Sleeping Because It’s Dark After All a course of action regarding our oldest dude.

The actual specifics of the discussion aren’t all that important (well, they’re important to us and certainly important to him. However, for the sake of this bit here, it’s more the results rather than the cause.), but I found myself thinking of Robert Frost.

One of my favorite poets, Robert Frost wrote about “The Road NotRobert Frost, one of America's best poets, extolled the virtue of taking the road less travelled. Taken.” In exactingly precise words of immeasurable beauty, Frost talked about how we often face choices in our lives and we can think of them as forks in the road.

We take one fork, make one choice, and that forever shapes all that is to come. Take the other fork, make the other choice, and that also forever shapes all that is to come.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

So we sat discussing our course of action and because the substance of the discussion, the nature of the choice, was so important to Sarcasmo’s future, I’ve never wished more fervently to be able to see the future.

“Are we making the right choice? Will this work out in the long run? Will this be good for him or hurt him?”

This is something we parents have to think about every single day in almost every single decision. It’s not often such a stark choice, but it is there.

Do I make him eat those zucchini slices or not? If no, am I teaching him that he will get his way when he whines? If yes, will I be teaching him that bigger people can make smaller people do things?

The more I think about it, the more debilitating it becomes until I can enter into a state of analysis paralysis. For those of you not up on your rhyming aphorisms, analysis paralysis means you start thinking about something so much that you never make an actual decision. Which is, in effect, a decision. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

There’s an old saying in project management: There comes a time in the life of every project when you simply have to shoot the engineers and run with it.

Now, that’s not actually encouraging people to kill engineers. The issue is that engineers are never finished. They always see one more thing that can be improved upon. One more thing that needs just a little adjustment.

I like to think it’s something similar in parenting. We don’t know what we’re doing.

We don’t know how our actions today will affect the life of our child tomorrow.

All we can do is make what we think is the right decision and then work for the best outcome. Which is, in and of itself, a significantly frightening thought.

So, now that I’ve spent two days scaring the pants off you, I’ve only got one thing to say. . .

You’re not wearing any pants! Neener Neener Neener!

Share on Facebook

I Feel Your Pain. . .

I feel your pain. . . but I just don’t care.

Empathy is great. However, on its own, it’s worthless. Feeling someone’s pain as if it were yours does absolutely no one any good if you don’t engage the second, most important, part of empathy.

You must act on your empathic feelings.

Consider this situation:

A young boy near you in the park falls down, skins his knee and starts Empathy is feeling the pain of others as you feel your own, but an often overlooked aspect to empathy, is the ability and choice to act on that empathy and ameliorate the pain others are feeling.screaming and crying and holding his knee. You see this and your knee flashes in empathic pain as you relive similar incidents in your own life.

So, we’re all in agreement that the above constitutes empathy, yeah. What happens next?

You shrug and go back to reading your Kindle. Or, seeing that no one has come to the little girl’s aid, you look around and spot the girl’s mother, who is deeply involved with changing another child’s diaper. You let the mom know that her child is in pain and then offer to help.

Which reaction actually does anyone any good? Well, I suppose the first one could do you some good if it’s a really good book you’re reading, but that’s not really what I’m getting at here.

Realizing someone is in pain and choosing to do nothing about it is, to me, even crueler than not even recognizing the pain in the first place.

What you’re saying is that the pain of other people doesn’t matter to you. And we’re back at questioning whether other people really, truly exist as anything other than NPCs wandering through your staged life.

They do exist. I exist. You exist. I’m not so sure about Rush Limbaugh**, but you get the point.

When you feel pain, when you’re in pain, you don’t simply sit there and let the pain continue. You actively do something to ameliorate your pain, whether that be talking with someone about your bad breakup or removing your hand from the natural gas flame on the stove.

You do something.

Because your parents did their job right, you also possess empathy and feel the pain of others as if it were your own. Since you understand/feel their pain, to consider yourself fully human, I think if your actions can make an impact* on the situation, you must actively do something to end the pain they feel.

Once little dudes and dudettes understand that other people really, truly exist and deserve consideration, they really do internalize the empathy. They begin to live it out. When they see another little kid in pain, they’ll walk over and (as the above picture shows) put an arm around the kid and show support.

It’s only as we grow older that we begin to regress in how we deal with empathy. We begin to ration our empathic responses. We begin to categorize the pain of others as worth less than our own.

Is that really what we want to do? Is that really the legacy we want to pass down to our kids?

Footnotes & Errata

* Note the use of impact as a noun. Because it is a noun. Impact is not a verb. You can make an impact, but you cannot impact something. And don’t even get me started on the abomination that is *shudder* impactful.
** Because no one could really believe what he says and act like he does. I’m almost certain he’s a performance artist doing a long-term installation.

Share on Facebook

Nope, No Fool, He

Hey, dude!s. Barry here with another exciting adventure from the land of parenting a tween-age boy. Fear them, dudes. Fear them.

After dinner the other night, I realized that while my mind is that of a young dude, my body most certainly is not. My youngest son and I sat down at the dinner table to have an after-dinner-pre-before-bed snack. Well, he calls it a snack. I call it a second dinner. The sad thing is, when I look at it, my waist size increased by two inches. He doesn’t put on an ounce of fat. Youth.

Anyhow, here was our conversation.

Son: Dad, I want you to know i am in a relationship.

Me: With who?

Son: Well, she’s a little older than I am.

Me: Do I know her?

Son: Maybe. . .

Quickly, so as not to appear like a total doofus, I started going through the names of some of the girls going to his school. I know most of the parents, so I was doing all right with matching them together. But I wasn’t having much luck picturing my son getting a crush on any of them. And, if he did, I had a feeling I was going to be having some appallingly awkward conversations with a father sooner rather than later.

Me: Ok, who?

Son: She’s pretty well known… and liked.

Me: Oh! Does she have another boyfriend?

Son: I’m not sure. But it doesn’t matter since we got engaged today!

Me, in a high, squeaky voice: Really?

Now about then I was getting more than a little nervous, since I am far, far too young to be a granddad.

Son: Yep.

Me: Well, who is the lucky lady?

Son: Guess. She’s famous.

Me: TV? Movies?

By then I was feeling a bit easier. I had a feeling this was going to be a lot less traumatic — for me — than I had been worrying about. I thought, when did he go to the Hunger Games set? They filmed it here last year.

Me: Who?

Son, with a sly smile: Meghan Fox.

Me, with more relief in my voice than I wanted: Oh. Good choice. You have my permission to marry her. But, I have one question: does she know you’re only 13?

Son: Nope, but she will soon.

All of which goes to show you, kids don’t even pause at considering the impossible. They don’t know enough to know what they want to do can’t be done. I wouldn’t be surprised if that kind of attitude carries him far one day. I just have to hope it’s a bit less far than the bushes outside Meghan Fox’s condo some night.

Share on Facebook