I lost my dad several months ago.
Even while he was alive, the things I liked most about myself were the ways I was like him. Most of my disappointment comes from the ways I don’t live up to his example.
This weekend, I gained a new appreciation for my dad’s ability not to overreact to situations.
Blake, my nine-year-old, loves a game called Minecraft. It seems like most boys love this game. Blake has always been an easy kid to raise. He aims to please and almost always does what he is told.
So recently when he was watching a video of a guy playing Minecraft on youtube.com, I was shocked to hear vulgar jokes and profane language coming from the computer speakers.
He was punished and told never to do it again. Then, he did it again.
His punishment the second time was harsher and parental controls were belatedly installed on the computer. He found a clean version of the same material to enjoy and everything had been fine since then.
Saturday morning, he was up early and so was I. He was watching his videos and I walked by him and thought I heard some of the old material. And Blake acted guilty as he reached for the speakers to turn off the sound. I thought he was caught red-handed.
I lost my cool.
After telling him he wouldn’t be on the computer for a month and wouldn’t play any video game for 10 days, I let a great comment slip between my lips.
“I thought you had learned your lesson,” I said in my mean voice. “Thanks for proving me wrong.”
Later, just trying to diagnose the issue and figure out how we could prevent future relapses, I asked Blake why he would watch something that he knew would get him in trouble.
He swore it wasn’t the bad version. I called his bluff.
We went down and I endured 15 minutes of a mindless guy mindlessly playing his game on video. Yet, there was no offensive material. I had heard and reacted incorrectly.
After apologizing to him, I asked Blake why he didn’t defend himself and prove that he hadn’t done anything wrong when I first “caught” him.
He had his reasons.
“You are big and intimidating and have a really good goatee,” he said. I am big but I don’t see myself as intimidating – although I do have a really good goatee.
I kept a straight face and continued to talk to him.
I explained to him that I worry about what he consumes because your heart and mind are like buckets. Everything that goes into your eyes and ears fills those buckets.
Page 2 of 2 - And Jesus told us in Matthew 12:34, “The mouth speaks from what overflows from the heart.”
I apologized again and promised to do better next time and react more appropriately when I think there is a problem.
I even promised to try to make my goatee a little less awesome and be a little less intimidating.
He gave me a big hug and told me how everything was okay.
“Parson” Frank Clark – a well-known cartoonist – once penned the quote, “A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be.”
I know I would be a better person if I held myself to the same standard to which I hold my boys.
I hope I get points for effort, because I really am trying.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers.
He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org