I've heard it said it was lonely at the top. Naturally, I have a different point of view now that I'm here. Its peaceful. Mind you, if I were some super-smart extrovert who had reached enlightenment, I might find it a bit dull here, sure. As it stands, having walked through the fire, I have ritualistically cleansed myself of that which plagues most everyone I've ever interacted with - anger, and I find life rather peaceful without it.
I was chatting up a lady recently, discussing those activities which surround causality when she mentioned to me she understood all too well how being angry could affect behavior. I was nodding in agreement with her understanding when she said in explanation, "Just like all the times my husband makes me angry." I had to stop nodding, but it wasn't until days later I realized what was so inherently wrong with her statement, and wondered how many people honestly believe anger is just a natural part of life, or that not getting angry is the responsibility of someone else. Are people simply not taught this, then later, when they grow up, aren't smart enough to figure it out on their own?
Here at the peaceful top, I have an abundance of patience with my children - an attribute they acknowledge. I am teaching them this, because I'll admit right now, my parents didn't know this shit. I had to figure it out on my own, and I'd like to arm my growing children with the right weapons. They're not just growing physically larger, they're also maturing intellectually and emotionally - experiencing life in ways that are totally new to them, both in sheer number of original, raw data contacts, and in constructing new ways of piecing together that data. I watch them assemble abstract ideas where once they saw everything in concrete comparisons, I hear them ask questions about proper actions and even discuss among themselves how they behaved in challenging situations. Its these same discussions I have with a very small number of emotionally stable adults, the kind of conversations where you don't just acknowledge someone else's opinion, you compare and contrast it to your own and integrate it if applicable - the kind of discussions I never have with my beer-chugging neighbors or even my highly-intelligent but inflexibly minded co-workers, most of whom behave in rigid accordance to their wildly different worldviews. I suppose it could be argued they see me the same way.
But my children aren't the only ones growing - I am growing with them, albeit on a different hierarchical plane. I spend a great deal of time actively pondering the best way to interact with them, constantly reevaluating each current interaction. Not so much second-guessing myself, rather ensuring that my every action and behavior is constant and supportive. I want to be the best father I can, and that won't happen if I think of them, or myself, as static. As their requirements change, I must fluidly evolve to meet their needs. This doesn't happen at fixed points. The more I'm looking for it, the quicker I will be able to adapt. By being consciously aware of my behavior, and what influences it, can I actively pursue this goal. Challenging? Absolutely. But I can't think of a singularly more important thing to expend my energy on right now. Passive parenting is for schmucks.
I'm looking forward to practicing my theories of emotional management to see if I can raise atypical teens - that is, teenagers who can articulate how they feel and express their needs without acting out. They're already showing a penchant for personal responsibility, and that was a calm, but uphill, battle. Its an exciting time. My kids are awesome.