The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.
~Jean Paul Richter
There are very few days that go by that I don’t wonder if my children heard anything that I have ever said. Sure, at times, there was a lot of head nodding and seemingly acknowledged understanding. Yet, responses by action didn’t always jibe with those words of “sage” advice I had offered.
Then, one day I overheard my son talking to a friend of his. I don’t recall the detail but he repeated something that I had spoken to him earlier as if he was now the authority. I initially smiled to myself and accepted that they listened even when it appeared not to be so.
However, now when I think of this event, brief moments of anxiety fall over me. I just cannot stop thinking about the many times I said something that was less than “sage”, maybe even damaging. Words of anger and words of hurt. It makes me want to go back and change somethings I have done in the past.
What would I do if I could go back and do it all over again?
I would hold my kids more and maybe a little longer when they were babies.
I would turn off the T.V. and play more games with them.
I would laugh with my children more…at our mistakes and our joys.
I would listen to them more and talk less.
I would be more encouraging and bestow more praise on them.
I would be more honest with them about my weaknesses and stop pretending perfection.
I would pay more attention to the little things they did.
I would cherish more the words of love and kindness they gave me.
I would be a better example of a man who loves them more than life itself.
I wish I could go back and change a few things. But I know all too well…I cannot change the past. I have learned that understanding the mistakes I have done, gives me an opportunity to change moving forward.
At the end of the day, the experience of listening to my son repeat my exact words, make me now weigh my words more carefully.
I want to make sure that I don’t waste any of them.
Because, they are listening.