Beyblades. I have to admit, I don’t totally get it. But if you spend more than 15 seconds near one, or near its counterpart cartoon, you will know precisely what they do.
“Beyblades, Beyblades, let it rip!” (I’m humming the tune it is sung/yelled to in my head) You pull a ripcord and out of it whirls a fast spinning metal and plastic contraption that goes head to head with another of the same.
Oscar loves them. He and one of his buddies from school would “battle” (that is a good thing…it is part of the game) until they tipped over from exhaustion if you let them. And sometimes, we do. Why? Because they are boys. They need to exhaust what their imaginations have to bring to the table that day.
I tell you all of this, to point out something that makes me look like a giant jackhammer.
These small, metal toys are built by assembling multiple pieces together. There are lots of color, design and shape combinations that are possible as you mix and match them. In order to get them to work, the last step is tightening down a plastic piece that works much like a locking nut. It’s no big deal when you are building one. Hunker down, tighten up and “let it rip!”
The part that poses the challenge is getting them apart later.
Last night Oscar brought one of his combinations over to me and asked for help in loosening the locking mechanism so he could take them apart and start over. This happens quite often in our house. And admittedly, I find myself giving him 9 second lectures about how if he didn’t tighten it so hard, he wouldn’t need my help all the time.
I was missing the point completely and the opportunity that went with it.
I hand the pieces back to him, and tell him “next time, don’t tighten it so hard and you won’t have this problem”. And every time he comes back with the same issue, I sigh…act slightly put out…and in disbelief that my incredibly spot on advice as a father was not heeded.
I can remember long before our kids were ever born, my wife and I would sit and talk about how we would handle certain situations when we had kids. It was sort of like a mental bootcamp/basic training thing ahead of time, so we might perform better as parents when it was time.
One of the big ones we’ve agreed on early is that we want our children to feel comfortable coming to us with anything and everything in their life. The good, the bad and the ugly. Whatever it is…we want them to know we will walk through it with them. They may not always like the outcome or the answers, but they’ll know they will never be alone.
Back to the BeyBlades.
I realized that every time Oscar brings me an over-tightened toy what he is really dropping in my lap is an opportunity to live out what I have spoken out. He’s making himself vulnerable before me in hopes that I honor my promise to him. He opens his hand with a problem in it, counting on the fact that I will help walk him through how to solve it.
It hit me.
I was taking his open hand of opportunity,
and slowly turning it into a clinched fist of frustration.
I was going to lose my credibility to be trusted down the road, because I was beginning to prove I couldn’t handle it today. I was not going to have the very trust I wanted later, because I didn’t put the time in now.
If I can’t quietly help “un-stick” a Beyblade, why would I…or should I…expect him to come to me when he is a teenager with much larger challenges, problems, obstacles or opportunities?
What I do now informs his heart as to who I really am.
What I do now tells him what I will be like later, and if he can count on me.
What I do now will determine the depth of trust that exists when the hardest times come.
This parenting thing can be so challenging. Actually, now that I think about it, parenting can’t exist outside that acknowledgment.
If I want him to come to me later when it gets really hard, I have to be there for him now when it’s very convenient to be-grudge it.
You can judge me for that last statement. I’m ok with it. I know I am far from a perfect parent. At the end of a long day, I don’t come bounding in the door…hoping, wishing and wondering if I will get to fix a toy.
But I should. And that is something I need to work on.
Because it’s not the toy that is the point. It’s the boy who is holding it.
He is holding his heart out, and giving me the opportunity to love on it, teach it, spend time with it…
When he holds that stuck toy out, he is taking a chance on me being there for him.
So today….I secretly hope all of his Beyblades are super-tight. I want to be able to sit with him for hours and free up those pieces so he can create new ones. I want to free up nervousness, and replace it with trust. I want to free up the opportunity for us to know each other better, grow closer as he gets older…and embrace the time we have together now.
We don’t know…none of us do…how long we get with our children.
To my fellow fathers out there…
how quickly we forget we were once the little boy with the stuck toy.
I hope this helps us all slow down and try.
Our little boys will grow into big men that teach this to their children one way or the other.
Our focus today will determine what their focus will be later.
You’ll have to excuse me now. I have to go find those Beyblades, and make sure they are good and stuck. 😉
Oscar will be home soon.
“For who has despised the day of small things?
Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.”
Sometimes…plumb lines are kids toys.
Small things are big deals…and every major arrival point had a small starting point that came first.
I found one of mine today.
Time to, “Let it Rip!”