Monday, 17 June 2013

Something Like This Blog Entry

I hit the road again yesterday, just for a short trip to Saskatoon. No reason, just went. It gave me some empty hours as I drifted across the open prairie from Drumheller east, past open fields and farms where the fresh green spanned from here to horizon for hour after hour. It was Father's Day and I thought some more about being a Dad, and I thought about road trips, then I thought about the two together.

I have explored. I've seen every province in Canada from left to right and right to left, from top to bottom and back. I've touched the sky in the Rockies, driven across prairies and plains so hot it melted the tires on the tent trailer, rounded Superior from the lakehead to the Soo, driven the Ottawa valley and the St. Lawrence valley on both sides of these quintessentially Canadian rivers, ordered a burger "tout garni" in deepest, darkest Gaspesie, circled the Maritimes, catching the Port Aux Basque ferry at night and returning on the Argentia run where the kids played min-golf on the windy, rolling top deck.

In all of this, my children were my constant companions. My kids have been with me for so much of my travel, by car, plane, boat and train. My kids have been there in Chicago and Detroit, California and Connecticut. We've driven down narrow gravel paths to beaches where they could look out on the open Pacific and see nothing but ocean all the way to Japan. They've scrambled on the rocks at Peggy's Cove where I held them back from cruel Atlantic, safe from the massive breakers at the outer shore. In all this and so much more, my children were with me.

I have always felt that seeing the world played an important part in building adults. I wanted them to see that this archipelago of Canadian communities, connected by road, rail and river, was wonderful, exciting, different and new; completely different from their small parochial town in the BC bible belt, boxed in by the border and a stack of books. I wanted them to see a world larger than every day. I wanted them learn that different was not dangerous, that new or old was neither bad nor good, just new or old. I wanted them to know that no matter where they were, be it airport, ferry dock, border crossing or highway rest area, they could handle whatever life threw at them.

I think I did a good job at this. As a parent, I have always believed that we are raising adults, not children; that childhood and teen-hood are passing phases and our job was to use this time to equip them with the tools and attitudes that they would need to survive in a world that was not always easy. I used the world as a learning experience for them.

I know I succeeded somewhat. I know that I learned more from them than they did from me. I learned that when you give a child freedom, they will take it and whether near or far they will show you how they intend to use it, and use it they will. If you have done a good job, they will show you that they value their freedom and hold it precious. If you show a child that they can trust their judgement and make good decisions, they will make them, sometimes to your dismay and peril, sometimes very different from yours. Yet if you have done well, they will know that with the power to decide comes the responsibility of outcome. I've learned that if you love a child and give them independence, they will know that it is both the power to leave and the power to come home again.

My sadness is that I will not be here to help my children pass these lessons on the their children. I am not quite finished. Then again no matter how long I lived, I would never be finished. That's called being a Dad. It goes on, and on, and on.... something like this blog entry.

1 comment: