Sometimes, for me, books become my best friends. I am a very inquisitive soul at the best of times. I love reading and I also strongly identify with Scrooge McDuck and all his Scottish ancestry. Maybe it’s because I can still remember my Scottish grandmother saying things like, “Waste not, want not”, or “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.” For all those Generation X’s, my grandmother was not talking about a weight loss program. Maybe it’s all that influence that makes it hard for me to go past a discount book table in the shopping centre.
While lingering at such a table one day, I picked up a book called ‘Believing it All – What My Children Taught Me About Life‘ by Marc Parent Piatkus publishers www.piatkus.co.uk. The title won me and the price of $5.00 appealed to my Scrooge McDuck mentality. Maybe it was the liner notes that pushed me over the edge. Marc writes:
“I never thought I would have to crouch down for the lessons. I never thought the greatest teacher I could ever hope to discover was a child.’
With the outdoors as their classroom, full-time father Marc Parent finds that parenting is just as much about learning as teaching. Writing with humour, wisdom and honesty, he brings our own half-forgotten childhoods sharply back into focus with his vivid accounts of two small boys discovering the world,
In the course of ordinary life, Marc Parent uncovers extraordinary truths, of the blind self-acceptance of children, the awesome responsibility of parenthood, children’s capacity for love, wonder and also cruelty and their unerring ability ‘to uncover not what you know, but what you believe’.
Marc relates the simplest of stories, revealing the way children think. For those of us whose children are older and more worldly-wise, it is a refreshing book to read. Many of our readers have young children and will relate no doubt to Marc’s real life tales.
One such story involves Marc going for a walk with his children one day. They come across a dead squirrel in the middle of the road.
“Casey,” I say, “that squirrel is dead.”
But why is he dead? . . . Why, Dad? Casey asks.
Maybe a car hit him . . . Or he might’ve fallen out of a tree,” I say. Casey looks to the branches above us, squinting against the sun. With my hand I pantomime a squirrel slipping and falling to the road. Casey returns his gaze to the squirrel.
“I want to look at it,” he says, and I know what this means. I lift him out of the stroller so he can crouch down close to it. With his chin at his knees, he slowly tips his head from side to side. I hear him breathing through his nostrils. Then he straightens his neck to look up the road, thinking. He stands. This could be the end of it. But then he drops the big one.
“Daddy, what is dead mean?” . . .
. . . My mind races through possible approaches. Whatever I decide to say will be gospel, it will be The Way It Is, until he archives everything I’ve ever told him to form his own view of the world – every generation trying to reach a little higher than the last. I give it a try and, for the first time, the sound of my voice is that of a real father’s.
“Casey . . .the squirrel’s body is here for us to look at, but the thing that made that squirrel jump and run, the thing that made his tail flicker up and down and wiggle back and forth. . . that isn’t there anymore. Because he’s dead.”
This week I have been working on a TV ad campaign for the lead up to Father’s Day but which will run all year round. We are shooting short one second stories with dozens of children interacting with their fathers. In some the Dads are playing, in some the Dads are caring, in some the Dads are laughing and in some they are snuggling their children. The one common thing in all these short cameos is that the children are inspirational, just as Marc Parent details in his book ‘Believing it all’. After filming one of the more inspirational shooting sessions with these children the following words tumbled out of my mouth. “Little people help big people become bigger”. I am sure Marc Parent would agree.
Write down some of the things your children have taught you.
Can you remember any?
It will probably take you a lifetime to do so.
Most of all make sure you thank them today for teaching you and sharing their life with you.
Where would you be without your children?
Yours for ever learning dads