I have a 6-year old son and I couldn't be happier about it. I always knew how much he could learn from me. After all, I know a lot of cool stuff. But I had no idea how much I would learn from him.
I never wanted children. It wasn't open to debate. As a workaholic, children can really cramp your style.
I always agreed with Robert Orben, who said, "Do you kids a favor -- don't have any."
But about seven years ago my wife explained to me that sometimes life doesn't go as planned -- at least not how I planned it.
So now I have a 6-year old son and I couldn't be happier about it. I always knew how much he could learn from me. After all, I know a lot of cool stuff.
But I had no idea how much I would learn from him.
The main thing that has changed for me is how I view God. I always envisioned an angry old white-haired dude just waiting to whack me if I did something wrong. So I really didn't do that much that was wrong. I don't like being whacked.
But after becoming a father I started to understand why people referred to God as their Heavenly Father.
It's funny. No matter what my son does or how upset I am in him, I never want anything bad to happen to him and I never stop loving him.
At some point that light bulb just came on.
Having a child of my own also revolutionized how I view my parents. I understand a lot of what they did and why they did it now.
I have great parents.
They raised us primarily by being incredible examples of what to do. But there were still times that I was taught rules through regulations that were left with the idea that "we just don't do those things."
That was fine, but I decided to be more Socratic with my son. I wanted to reason with him so that he would independently recognize right and wrong and not depend on my beliefs to keep him on the straight and narrow.
Recently, some good friends told us that we should take our son to see "Avatar." They said he would enjoy it.
I trusted their opinion and told Blake we'd go on Saturday. He was excited. He has a true appreciation for marketing and few things have been overhyped as much as the "Blue man group meets Land of the Lost" movie extravaganza that is "Avatar."
But I did a little research and discovered that one thing "Avatar" would do is expand Blake's vocabulary in ways I didn't think a 6-year old was ready to manage properly.
So I sat down in my "dad chair" and called him over to me one night, interrupting his time playing video games. I explained that we weren't going to see "Avatar" since it had some curse words in it that were not appropriate for him.
He explained that there would only be a little bit of cussing and he promised he wouldn't say the bad words.
I decided to explain my decision to skip the show.
"OK, son," the wise old dad in me began. "Imagine I have a bucket of cow manure. (He laughed. Manure is always good for a laugh with a boy.) Over here I have a bucket of ice cream. How much of the manure can I put in the ice cream and you still eat it?"
He thought for a minute and said none.
"What if I just put in a little bit of the bad stuff?" I asked.
"No dad. I am not eating any manure," he said firmly.
So I said, "See son, sometimes a little bad stuff makes it hard to enjoy the good stuff," I said, noticing his little light bulb starting to come on. "I'm sorry, but that's why you can't go see 'Avatar.'"
He seemed to get it. He patted me on the shoulder and said, "You're a good dad. It's OK." And off he went back to his game.
I tell myself that these things sink in and one day he'll appreciate the wisdom his father shared with him. In reality, he probably wonders why I interrupt him when he's trying to save the princess or defeat the dark side.
Even if my lessons to him never sink in, he teaches me something new every day.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta Gazette in Augusta, Kan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.