Saturday, February 7, 2009

It ain't all random. Some of it's planned.

Recently, I was changing my son on his changing table and partook in what I think was something rather remarkable. I needed a toy or something to occupy his hands so that I'd have fewer obstacles in my way as I attempted to change his diaper. Finding nothing better nearby, I handed him a fresh diaper saying "hold this for a second." I added: "and don't put it in your mouth."

A feeble request, or so I thought.

Promptly, my 6-month-old son put the double fisted diaper on a slow but deliberate path to his mouth. Offering him a stern eye and tone I said "No. Don't put that in your mouth." Now, I didn't yell at him and there was hardly an inflection to my voice, but amazingly, this kid begins to slowly lower the diaper back toward his chest. I put a poker face on trying my darndest not to look impressed. Did what I think just happened happen?

I'm not the flash like my wife when it comes to changing my son's diaper, so I'm still working on him a few moments later when I began to notice the diaper leave my periphery. Yeah, it was once again headed to that dribble-soaked tool with which my son explores the world and all in it; his mouth. I repeated my command much in the same manner as before and was again surprised by the reaction. The diaper was lowered and this time without a repeat attempt. No way was this random.

There are a number of ways to explain away what actually happened. He may have simply thought the words I was saying were at the moment slightly more interesting than the diaper he was about to sample. Who knows. But the profound thing it reminded me of as a dad was that we as parents should underestimate what our children are really capable of. There is little doubt that he hadn't a clue what exactly I was saying, but I probably wouldn't have thought that he would at this point in life be able to fathom what I was "meaning." I think that's just what he did, twice.

Just today I saw a commercial featuring Magic Johnson. In it he mentions that he was trained as a child to earn his spending money as opposed to being given an allowance. By the age of 10, Mr. Johnson continues, he owned his own business cutting lawns. Fast forward to the business smarts he seems to benefit from today and you can't help but to attribute that to a foundation set in the concept of earning a living. Someone in his family (mother, father or both) saw that this kid was capable of staying on task and working toward a goal, something many adults still can't get right today. And by the age of 10, a little entrepreneur was out there earning his own.

My son's little show of understanding was a clear reminder of the potential kids hold. It was a reminder of the responsibility I have as a parent to help them appropriately measure that potential in attempts to map the innumerable paths of their future.

Indeed, even with an infant, it ain't all random. Some of it's planned.

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