Sharing wisdom with your children? Jake Frost describes how he learned the hard way that it's important to keep it fresh.
At the breakfast table one morning I was in the midst of explicating a hard-won piece of crucial life-wisdom to my children when I noticed snickering.
I was explaining to my children what I term The Law of Holes, to whit:
When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
But of course I could not simply leave that one line of wisdom dangling, bare and unadorned as the branch of a maple tree in winter. No, I endeavored also to cloth that sterling chestnut with explanation, example, and context. (And please pardon my mixed metaphors, mingling different deciduous varieties as they do.)
So with might and main I strove to fully “unpack” that aphorism, as they say in the parlance of the day, lest I inadvertently short-shrift my progeny on the patrimony of wisdom that is their rightful inheritance. But in the midst of declaiming I paused to draw breath and speaking-up over the great sucking noise of my inhalation of oxygen one child observed:
“Gee Dad, I thought your talk was going to be shallow, but it’s actually pretty deep.”
Giggling broke out around the table.
Another chimed in: “Dad, I was afraid your advice was going to be a whole lot of rubbish, but I like how you’ve filled in the saying.”
Giggling grew in intensity to become chortling.
Then one commented: “Dad, I was afraid your explanation of holes would be empty, but I’m really digging it.”
Chortling rose to barely suppressed guffawing.
And the thought finally penetrated my oxygen starved brain: my cherished chestnut may be a bit beyond its sell-by date.
If I’ve trotted it out often enough that the kids have developed a witty repartee that stands ready-to-hand at a moment’s notice whenever occasion should offer to deploy it, I may have gone to that well one time too many.
It was a blow. To have a favorite topic of discourse, upon which I so love to wax wisely and rhapsodically, suddenly exploded was the pits.
And while the Bible tells us that there is nothing new under the sun, some things are less new than others.
It was time, apparently, to heed my own advice and lay that rhetorical shovel aside.
Part of the challenge of parenting is to keep it fresh. After a while the same old words, the same old ways, begin bouncing off our young charges like rubber balls off a cement sidewalk without penetrating past the outer shell into the young hearts and minds within.
So one of my New Year’s resolutions is to mix things up, to find new ways to fill my children’s minds with the insights of ages past.
I’m already working on a monologue for what I’m tentatively titling The Law of Heaps.
I can’t wait to see how they’ll pile-on me for that one!
Happy New Year!
Copyright 2021 Jake Frost
Image: Canva Pro
About the Author
Jake Frost is an attorney, husband, and father of four grade-school aged kids. He’s the author of five books: Catholic Dad: (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; From Dust to Stars: Poems by Jake Frost; Victory! Poems by Jake Frost; and a children’s book he also illustrated called The Happy Jar.