by Dave Markwell

My son, Aden, turned fifteen. How this happened I do not know. Time, I suppose, does this. Time and a couple of rare, but fortunate, demonstrations of parental self-discipline during those moments when I wanted to kill him myself. Kids can make us crazy and this boy is no exception. For a while, “bonehead, “knucklehead” and a variety of other “head” suffixed names became his. At fifteen, I believe we may have turned a corner. (Jinx alert here!!)

While he is still highly capable of some supremely stupid things, these incidences are increasingly rarer. His mind and heart are good. He is kind and works hard at the things he should work hard at, a notable exception being cleaning his room. He is funny and creative and thoughtful. He’s smart and articulate and wise in ways that are good to be wise. He cares about the world and is shaping his role in it. It’s fun being his dad.

I really like him. As parents we are probably obligated to love our kids, though I’m not sure we have to like them. Some kids are very challenging to like, even for their parents, I suspect. Liking someone may be more personal preference and choice than love. Sometimes, we can’t help loving someone, even if we don’t like them. I’m glad I like this boy.

As a dad I worry about my influence screwing up a pretty good kid. I can recall in great detail my own dad’s successes and failures. Moments when he said or did the right things shaped me, as did the moments when he said or did the wrong things. We never know our score as a parent. Our kids keep the scorecards to themselves, though occasionally when observing them in action, we catch a brief glimpse of our influence. Sometimes this is good and sometimes this is bad. The results speak for themselves.

So, at fifteen, my son and I still have a few miles ahead of us. My hope is that we travel well: we make a few good choices and throw in some bad ones for a little color and share some smiles about both. Perfect parenting has never been my goal. I am not foolish enough to prescribe myself a destiny of failure. My only wish for my kids is joy in life. Joy will only come through the truest expression of their unique gifts, of which they are blessed with many. I hope to support this whenever and wherever I can. My place in their journey is sometimes conductor, sometimes riding shotgun. They decide where I sit. And this is ok with me…

(Sidenote: To all the other parents believing their son is the best one…you’re wrong…because, I’ve got him.)

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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