Last year, after my honeymoon to Africa, I struggled a bit to find the right material from that extraordinary experience to write about in my column. Happily, I came through with two of my personal favorite columns: each called “African Reflections” (Parts One and Two). This year, as I’m finishing up our trip to the Canary Islands, Morocco, and Portugal, I realized that I have more than enough material for a column. Consequently, I will share some highlights and also encourage you to visit my “A Dad’s Point-of-View” Facebook page where I’ve posted many photos from the trip.
Many things struck me on this trip, but the children affected me the most. The more I travel, the more exotic the places, and the more I realize how similar we all are. And the kids strikingly make that point as their faces so often reflect the joys of life–in spite of whatever hardships their countries may be suffering. To me, that is the hope for the future when I otherwise occasionally get discouraged by world events.
One of the many things that we try to teach our children is how to make good decisions. Sometimes the problem can be that we may not always make good decisions ourselves or we may allow emotions to influence our choices. I found this to be true in a recent argument I had with my older son and a latter discussion about an important choice he wanted to make.
The argument was about his last-minute decision to back out of his promise to come skiing with me over Winter Break, preferring instead to stay home with his friends (and girlfriend). I got angry as he made this decision days before we were supposed to leave, thus leaving me high and dry with little time to find a friend to come in his place. My wife and other son were already scheduled to go on a very special trip to Japan and Hong Kong.
Every holiday season brings both wonderful times and challenging family situations for most of us, my family included. This past holiday season included the first visit to our home of my in-laws, the first time my sons and I would be apart, and the first time my wife and I would be apart during this festive time of the year. Can I say I learned more about our relationships? You bet. Was it easy and fun? You be the judge.
Let’s start with the in-laws. Like many things, I had expectations about how we’d all relate and get along, mostly based on our previous visits together at their home in Vancouver, B.C. But, as I never seem to learn or remember, expectations rarely turn out as expected. In this case, I am very pleased to say they turned out better.
“I HATE it,” or “I HATE my teacher,” or “I HATE that restaurant.” Sound familiar. When my younger son uses that word or is complaining or whining as much as he and his older brother do, I find myself going nuts on them. “You HATE” such and such? There are things to hate in this world, like terrorists, rapists, serial murderers, taxes, Britney Spears and Renee Zellweger, but an item of food, a less than terrific teacher?
This falls under the category of spoiled rotten. I must’ve done something to encourage this behavior and my new wife always gives me “the look” when they act that way; the look that says, “well, where do you think they got it from?” I then give her the look that says, “bug off,” and we go on to a fight from there. Okay, just kidding. Sort of.