I still remember that Saturday morning some years ago when my family and I drove northbound on 1st Avenue from the library. I was blue in the face when the two older boys taunted their baby brother for his inability to spell his middle name. Refusing to go home, we drove around Federal Way until he was able to spell his name in its entirety that day.
Ask me to explain what has happened over those years with my son’s less-than-sterling spelling record to his becoming a Cambridge student and the go-to guy on technical matters, and you would make a liar out of me.
I’m still at a loss for word every time I have to call on his expertise to navigate a new phone, iPad, shortcut in texting, or creating a more favorable Facebook layout.
Well, as the saying goes, “The little ones shall lead them.” My only fear now: what if he decided to get even with me one of these days for my drilling him to spell his name that fateful morning? What if he asked me to perform some basic algorithm on a laptop, which he deemed a basic task to all grown men? I’m prepared.
Never in the history of mankind have we seen such role reversal like what we are witnessing today, particularly over the past 30 years. Parents were always counted on to teach their children like teachers instruct their students. But today, more and more, millions of parents, grandparents and teachers are looking to their children, grandchildren, and students for help.
What must it feel like when a father has to consult his children on a particular subject where they’ve now surpassed Daddy’s elementary skill? What happens when a daughter outshines her mother in making a better pot roast than the woman who taught her? It must take a lot of humility and confidence to survive those realities.
As parents, we stand to gain a lot if we would swallow our pride and learn from our children in the most organic way. We ought to relax the “Daddy/Mommy knows best” mantra, and start seeing the world through our children’s eyes. Scamper carefree through the park with them. Traverse the hinterland of play and be inspired by what excites them instead of wagging the correcting finger.
While some parents perhaps have a hunch as to the kinds of children they’re raising, most of us don’t have the slightest clue. So, why not raise them like future millionaires or innovators? I doubt that Steve Jobs or Bill Gates’ parents knew that their baby boys would change the world in such impactful ways when the boys hauled home clunky junkyard spare parts inside their families’ garages. No doubt they encouraged their passions.
I see my role in training our children as a symbiotic relationship. I am satisfied that we’ve always maintained a household dictated by “each one teach one.” Thus, it’s not uncommon for the youngest member of our family to pull out the white board inside the living room on any given evening and teach the rest of us something that we’ve not mastered. At the onset, the older boys frowned on the concept, but I see now how all of us have benefited from such an arrangement.
It is highly tempting to bask into the glow of Father’s Day, but for this year, it’s a shared effort. I’m quite aware that I couldn’t be an effective dad had my sons not assisted me in that monumental role. So when they say happy Father’s Day, it is only appropriate for me to say happy Son’s Day.