Be The Nerd – Do What Makes You Happy!
When I graduated from high-school we all got to choose a quote to go beside our graduation picture in the yearbook. Some of the quotes were funny, some were philosophical and some were inside jokes only a few people understood.
My quote said...'I can't wait to raise little football players and dancers.'
That was over 25 years ago.
Today my wife and I have two kids under age 5 and neither one of them are football players. They both take ballet class but it's probably still too soon to call them 'dancers' too.
And I could care less.
Will either one of them eventually learn to throw perfect spiral or grand jete across the stage like in the final scene of Billy Elliot when Billy's Dad sees his son dance for the first time? Maybe...and maybe not.
I'm fine if they don't do either because raising little football players and dancers isn't important to me anymore. Those short-sighted dreams were from a long time ago by a teenager who didn't know the first thing about raising kids.
I'm not even sure our daughter likes sports?
When my wife was pregnant for the first time she let me buy Boston Red Sox bibs and onesies even though they were more than twice the price of bibs and onesies from Babies-R-Us.
Our girl quickly grew out of those Boston bibs but for a few brief moments in time I felt pride seeing her in Red Sox clothing because that's Daddy's favorite baseball team. And she wore a tiny Vancouver Canucks t-shirt for awhile too because that's Daddy's favorite hockey team. We called the Canucks the Vancouver Bluefishes.
I can remember holding her in my arms during the 2011 Stanley Cup finals when Vancouver played Boston for the Cup, the stars seemed to be aligning perfectly because there was a chance the Canucks could win the Championship the same year she was born! It was destiny, something we'd be able to talk about as Vancouver hockey fans for the rest of our lives!
But then the Canucks got blown out in game 7 by the big, bad Bruins and destiny was averted by tragedy. And as it turns out the Boston Bruins won the Cup the year I was born and the year she was born. Funny how that all worked out.
Our daughter held a golf club in her hand shortly after learning to walk, she played in a co-ed soccer league at age 3 and sometimes she picks up a plastic hockey stick in the basement and smacks a ball around into a tiny hockey net I bought three years ago.
But I'm not sure she even likes sports. All that sporty stuff was probably me trying to raise little football players and dancers.
She's five now and she can read simple words, she can count as high as you ask her to count and she really enjoys navigating around the apps on her iPad all by herself. She love arts and crafts too. All parents say this about their kids but I feel like she's really, really smart.
Sometimes she'll randomly say to me...'Daddy, did you know 4 + 4 = 8?' And the other day she looked at my U.S. Open golf t-shirt and told me that spells O-P-E-N. Good job, sweetie!
These days she doesn't ask to play soccer or hockey and she hardly ever picks up that golf club anymore. And I'm totally OK with that because I don't need her to play sports or be a dancer, I just need her to be happy doing what she loves.
Praying for a boy!
When we went to get the ultrasound to find out if our second child was a boy or a girl, I was secretly praying for a boy.
I would have been thrilled if we had another girl because there's something special about the daddy/daughter dynamic but I really wanted a son. I wanted a son so bad I held a good luck Canadian quarter in my hand while we were viewing the ultrasound and squeezed it tighter and tighter waiting for the results.
And then there he was. I've got my football player!
But the months after he was born something strange happened. Yes he had another new Red Sox onesie and he took the same picture in his Canucks t-shirt as our daughter but for some reason I didn't feel the need to engage him in my sports fanaticism the same way I did with our daughter.
He's three now and I have no urgent desire to put him in a soccer league or take him to early swimming lessons or put a golf club in his hand. Our boy gets very little prompting from me to pick up sports.
The funny thing is he picks up the golf club on his own and smacks a ball around with it and he dribbles the soccer ball back and forth in the backyard. And he really loves to throw things!
He also likes to wear ballerina skirts so maybe he'll be the football player and the dancer?
But I'll be fine if he's not.
Be the Nerd
A few weeks ago Mark Zuckerberg went viral when he responded to a comment on his Facebook blog encouraging a grandma to help her grand-daughter 'be the nerd' instead of 'dating the nerd.' Within a few short hours #bethenerd started trending all over the internet because of his awesome response.
And I couldn't agree with Zuckerberg more.
Looking back to when I was a teenager, I was excited to have a son so he could play football or hockey and I could be the sports Dad. Or to have a daughter so I could sit in the crowd and have my breath taken away when I saw her swan-like grace glide across the stage.
But those days are long gone. There's so much more!
Of course there's still a chance our kids will be football players or dancers but now that I'm a parent I realize it's not about what I want for them, it's what they want for themselves and our job as parents is to introduce them to as many things as we can and guide them when they find things they love.
Sometimes I have an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy with our kids because I wish I could teach them more or introduce them to different and exciting subjects beyond just sports. I want to be able to step outside of my comfort zone and be the Dad who can teach them about Science and Technology and Math or even Music or Art.
I just want their horizons to be wide open with plenty of opportunities.
If I could rewrite that quote from high-school today it might sound something like this...
I can't wait to have kids. I promise to encourage them to try all sorts of different things and pursue the ones that interest them and make them the happiest.