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When I grow up

April 21, 2016

Even before Nathan was born I wondered what type of parent I would be. Some said I'd make a great dad, but a coworker said something I'd never forget. "With how competitive and athletic that both you and Annette are, I feel bad for your kids." Like all parents, I knew that I only want the very best for my kids. However, I also firmly believe that we most value the items that we earn and not the items given to us.

I am very fortunate to have (had) two great parents as role models. My dad was always there when I needed. Many times, taking over a project I had started (and many times botched). I learned to be an expert tool-fetcher and flashlight holder, but at time passed I learned that I wasn't really learning, and one day wouldn't have that luxury anymore.  I'm grateful to still have my mom around, and now there's still many opportunities for the two of us to learn things together.

When Nathan started getting close to a year old and when Annette and I officially learned that he would have developmental issues, I really struggled on how to proceed. We were told that everything would be a struggle for him and that he'd never really be able to do anything on his own. We were told we "really couldn't expect much" and "there's just not enough hours in the day to try to accomplish everything that he would need."

Nathan's efforts have always been based on his motivations. The key was to use that effort to accomplish his adaptive goals. I've never been a patient person, (and I'm still not.) I hate to see people struggle, but love to see anyone accomplish tasks they themselves didn't believe possible. I've also never been one for starting at the beginning or taking things slow. When I start a 30-day challenge, I start on day 4, so finding patience and learning how to celebrate the small victories would be a great learning curve for me as well.

Nathan is currently at the point of which he's willing to make 'deals.' He will eat his dinner only if he thinks he'll get to go outside afterward. He'll put one toy away, only if he thinks he'll get a more interesting one in exchange. What's getting exciting as a parent/coach is spying on him when he thinks that we're not watching or no one will do the work for him. When he's left to do the work on his own, it's encouraging to see how much effort he's willing to put in to accomplish the goal.

Of course, once he knows you're watching, cheering, encouraging, etc. the effort stops and he want you to do the rest of the work. Then he's the one striking the deals, "if I do just a tiny bit more will you do the rest?" I've never been a good negotiator, but he's given me plenty of opportunities to practice over the last several months. 

I've really tried to adopt the practice that "God helps those who help themselves." I know that God doesn't leave us alone, but asks us to put in a little sweat-equity to accomplish our goals. I make sure that Nathan sees me when I'm exercising, and a funny thing happens, he works towards me and wants to take his turn. Step-by-step, rep-by-rep, we all work to make ourselves better.

This year, Nathan is increasing his distance working to cross the finish lines in his race; Annette is beginning her training towards a half marathon, and I'm prepping for my first full marathon in October. To my former coworker, yes, we're athletic, apparently we're all a bit competitive, and with God's help, making ourselves better (and a better parent) everyday.