With the most anticipated ringing of a bell, one era ends as a new one begins. The doors of the local school house burst open final time for the season, as crowds of eager and excited children poured out into the yard; cheers and screams bellowing out as Summer vacation officially gave way. The Beadricks’ family are not exempt from this fanfare and excitement, as each member of the team have, both in their own right and as a collective, many things to look forward in the coming months. Be it back country adventures in new parts of the World, a week-long overnight camp for their oldest, trips to the big city, bearing witness to wedding bells, or taking time to enjoy their own property, Father and his loving and adoring family are all more than ready for everything that’s about to come, and are prepared to enjoy each venture at its own pace.
Of course, there would be no changing of the seasons without growth, and so Father has once again taken to reflection and appreciation for what these past few months have taught him, and how they will undoubtedly help to prepare him for the ones to come.
LESSON TWENTY-NINE, IN WHICH FATHER sees into the future
At the end of an already long day, there are always more tasks to be done, be they as a parent, partner, home owner, or responsible adult; circumventing responsibility is not easily done. Along with said responsibility, of course, comes the fatigue and Father was not exempt from it, particularly in the midst of bedtime ‘routine’.
Perhaps less of a lesson in how Father can continue to grow, this serves more as a reminder for him to cherish every fleeting phase.
“Good night my love, lights out.”
“Daddy, can you get me fresh water first?”
[walks downstairs and back, only slightly perturbed, with the requested refreshment]
“Thank you, Daddy. Can you also please get me Teddy? He’s downstairs on the couch.”
[walks downstairs and back, feeling a bit more on the annoyed side this time, with the requested stuffy]
“Thank you, Daddy. Can you please get my book? I left it in my backpack.”
[muttering under his breath, he reluctantly does so, with the following caveat:]
“This is the last time, okay? It is bed time, and I’m not going downstairs any more.”
[hands over the book]
“Thank you, Daddy, I also need my night mask, can you please get it from the upstairs bathroom? At least you don’t have to go down the stairs…”
“My dearest child, it is getting late, I am tired, I have been up and down these stairs more times than I can count. You have two capable feet attached to your body, why could you not have retrieved said night mask yourself? Why must I be the one to ‘fetch’ at your beck and call?”
“Daddy, it’s called being a parent”
LESSON Thirty, IN WHICH FATHER makes artificial mountains
Father, who has always been known to have a sweet tooth, enjoys himself the odd indulgence in the form of sour goodies and gummy bears. He doesn’t need many to satiate his craving, just one or two will do; and so often times the remnants of the bag will kick around the cupboards for others to discover, not always by their desire.
“Dear husband?” came the gentle call of the wonderful Beandricks matriarch. “Have you seen the gummy bears?”
“Oh, i took them all to work to store in my desk. I know how you don’t like the temptation of them just hanging around here.”
“Oh. I see.”
The silence which followed left Father feeling as though he had made the wrong call; that he should have left those sweet treats untouched and at home for others to enjoy. For many long moments he created scenarios in his mind, trying to determine how he could right this wrong. He let these thoughts of uncertainty consume him until he finally broke the silence…
“I am so sorry my love, for not asking first or considering that you may, in fact, want to enjoy before I removed that opportunity for you. I should have been more considerate.”
“My dear, sweet, adorable, suave, debonair, chiseled, specimen of a man, life is complicated – sometimes I am going to want gummy bears, other times I’m not. While I can admit that which side of that equation we are on today can be difficult to navigate; if gummy bears are the largest challenge and obstacle we face together, then I think we can call ourselves lucky.”
LESSON Thirty-One, IN WHICH FATHER shoulders hypocrisy
One fine, bright sunny morning, the youngest of kids awoke in a state of not wanting to attend school. There were no complaints of fever, sore throat, tummy ache, nerves, fear, or ailment of the physical kind, simply a strong desire to stay home.
“‘I’m sorry, my dear, but it is a school day and you carry with you a responsibility to attend. Besides, Mommy and Daddy must go to work, so there would be no one here to take care of you. I understand that you may not want to go to school, but you are showing no signs of illness and you can’t just choose to stay home because you’re just not ‘feeling it’ today.”
“But Daddy, yesterday morning you decided to stay home from work for exactly the same reason”*
LESSON Thirty-Two, IN WHICH FATHER sees a truth he wasn’t prepared for, and a partner he eternally appreciates
Artwork, in all its glorious and expressive forms, is ever-present in the Beandricks household. Rarely a day passes where Father does not find colourful images displayed about the counter, table, walls and floor; consider any medium, and you are sure to find it has been explored and showcased proudly within the home.
On one particular day, whilst tidying the countertops, he discovered a pencil drawing of a man, furrowed at the brow and scruffy around the collar; the words “Don’t do that!” in bold, block letters above the image, suggesting the speech is yelled as opposed to spoken. The title ‘Dad’ written in the bottom corner served as the title of the piece. This gave Father pause.
“My dear,” he called to his wife, “do you think this is a picture and a caption of me?”
She took a look, and thought for a moment.
“It really doesn’t look like you, so I doubt it. Of course It’s possible, I suppose, but you don’t have nearly as much facial hair as this man does.”
“Hmmm.” was all that he could muster up, as his thoughts began to swirl around. Father was beside himself in careful consideration and thought. Many moments, then hours, then a day passed. All Father could think about and reflect on were his own actions, words, and tones. He played back only the moments in his mind that could possibly have matched that image. It was a heavy day, stuck in his own mind, and then:
“Dear, to speak more on this picture. If it is me, then what if this is our daughter’s prominent impression of me? That I am a naggy, grumpy, mean old man who only knows to say ‘No’? I don’t think I could bear knowing that is her constant view of me.”
“My love, let’s say for a moment that it is you. Parenting isn’t about perfection. Navigating family life and parenthood is a learning for us, even more-so than it is for our children. There are challenging and frustrating times, both past and yet to come; that you are asking your daughters to be safe while experimenting with risk, to be mindful of others, and that you don’t simply provide them the convenience of a ‘yes’ at every tantrum makes you a positive figure, not a negative one. You are influencing and impacting them in healthy ways that will shape their character in your honour. For them to grow up to be the type of person you are and the people we are together is something we should only hope for. So, yes, there is one perspective of a father who says ‘no’ to some of the things his daughter may want; consider for a moment, however, with all of the time you spend with them exploring, teaching, building, laughing and playing – if you were to flip that paper over, what picture might be on the other side?”
A fresh and warm season dawns on us, and we can see that Father has learned many lessons to hopefully equip him for whatever is about to come. Regardless of how one might measure success, it is clear that adventure and opportunity await, and that he and the whole Beandricks clan are not afraid to continue learning and experiencing life and all its nuance.
There is no doubt that we will hear from him again, assuredly with more valuable teachings from his family.
*LESSON Thirty-One, Epilogue
I wanted to take a few extra moments to expand on this particular story, as the message to me is really important.
As we recognize and gain more appreciation these days that our mental health is no less important than our physical well-being, so too are Alison and I ensuring that this appreciation is applied at all ages. Just as a 5-year old can catch a cold, or something far more dire, they can also feel stress, pressure, an overwhelming sense that they need to be more, do more, or to prove themselves to others. Being relentless of mind does not equate to strength, and sometimes we all just need a break as a form of self-care. So, when I wake up some mornings and am just not ‘feeling it’ and choose instead to check myself out for a vacation or sick day; when times warrant it, my kids are free to do the same.