I just read ‘Father Forgets” by W. Livingston Larned. Have you read it? As well known as it is, I had not come across this piece of writing until this morning. As I read it, it made me smile. I couldn’t help but think of my 1 year old son, Jack, and his love for eating sand, his desire to climb everything and anything (and anyone), and his daily art creations, which end up on the floor, furniture, and anything with a surface. I am thankful for washable markers!
As a parent, I choose to lead with love. I tend to sit back and observe Jack in his exploration of the world. Rather than dictate his every move, I enjoy seeing how his mind works and the adventures that my little “Cayman Jack” takes on for the day. This Mommy chooses to be forgiving to spilled milk, toddler tantrums, and late night bursts of energy.
As unnatural as it may seem, I encourage you to relax and back off a bit when your child is busy exploring the world. Put your worries and your own self-limiting habits aside, and allow your child(ren) to be young. Allow them to develop their God-given gifts and strengths. If you succeed in conforming them to be a “mini-You”, then they just may miss out on being who they were designed to be.
Do you tend to criticize? Do you frequently express frustration and anger? Maybe you experienced the wrath of a demanding parent and you have difficulty seeing that the cycle is continuing; or maybe you see your own behavior, but you cannot seem to break that hurtful cycle. If you had a parent who didn’t forget and one that made sure that you did not forget either, then it is likely that they too were raised to find fault and criticize. Forgive even if you will never receive that apology that you feel you deserve. Free yourself from the hurt of others that has been displaced onto you. Allow yourself a new life that flows with the beauty present in each day.
Father Forgets by W. Livingston Larned
Listen, son; I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.
There are things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive – and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – this was my reward to your for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!
It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!”
I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.”