“How Will You Measure Your Life?”

This TEDxBoston talk from Clayton Christensen is incredible. In it, he talks about why not just nations, but companies, families and individuals fail and how, so often, we measure precisely the wrong things in order to succeed, whether we want to be good businesspeople, citizens or, most importantly, parents. How will you, and ultimately God, measure the “successes” in your life?
I was humbled, particularly, by his insights on investing in your children.

“It’s actually really important that you succeed at what you’re succeeding at, but that isn’t going to be the measure of your life. God doesn’t count, he doesn’t aggregate.”
Watch all 20 minutes of it.


Numero Dos
That’s right, ladies and gents: Numero Dos is on the way, and boy ain’t he/she a beaut? (We’re going to be surprised as to the sex as we were with Will).
Baby is healthy, although the ultrasound tech said they’re a little on the small side. They said the same thing about Will, and look how he turned out…CORRECTION: On the small side for us. Which means they’re still big. *grin*
In any event: yay! Now we’ve just got to agree on some names.

My Son: An Orator Of Singular Talent

Daniel Webster.
Will has been getting increasingly verbal in the past couple of months, but unfortunately, it’s of a peculiar sort. He has said “kitty”, “cup”, “ball”, “truck” and a host of other words, but each and every one only once.
The words he drops are largely contextual — it’s clear that he understands what he’s saying and that he is referring to specific people, objects or concepts, but he gets an almost-embarrassed look on his face when we prompt him to repeat himself. This look quickly morphs into one that says “Nope, I’ve done it once and proved to myself that I can, so I’ll wait until I can speak in full sentences before I repeat myself.”
It’s not that he’s not intelligent. He is clearly gaining a love for reading books (he sat for a full half hour “reading” Malcolm X’s biography the other day — there aren’t even any pictures!) and he understands us fully. He conceptualizes well and he hears us just fine, so it’s not a hearing problem.
I’m not worried, really, although it is a bit concerning.

Greater Love Hath No Child Than To Give Up His Fears For His Toys

I do apologize for the horrendous paraphrasing of John 15:13 in the title, but I do believe it’s fairly apt.
Here’s the skinny:
Part the First: William is absolutely terrified of vacuum cleaners in any incarnation – he despises our Dyson and can’t stand the Dust Buster and always has issues with my parents’ model. Whenever we start one of them up, his face is overcome with a look of sheer and utter debilitating fear and he will either flee in horror, begin bawling uncontrollably or simply shake and quiver, frozen in place by the terror. This, of course, makes cleaning the house interesting, as we must either vacuum 1) after he’s in bed 2) while he’s napping or 3) when one of us is out and about on errands with Will in tow.
Part the Second: While visiting my parents this past weekend, my mother brought out my younger sister’s old Cabbage Patch doll and presented it to Will “so he can practice” (I’ll let that one scoot right past without comment or further thought – for now) and Will took an immediate liking to it. He first examined it for the presence of a belly button, as is his wont, and then proceeded to sling it over his shoulder and tromp about with a purposeful look on his face. That doll has been about as close a constant companion as toys go with Will (he’s got a bit of a short attention span when it comes to such things) and he has managed to elicit sly smiles and muffled “Awwww!”s from my wife and myself at several points in the intervening days.
Part the Third: My wife, needing to clean up for the mommy/baby playgroup she hosts every few weeks, pulled the vacuum out and, out of necessity, began to run it while Will was not only still awake but in the same room. According to her, Will initially froze in place but quickly noticed that the Cabbage Patch doll was sitting on a chair mere feet from that hideous vacuum beast! and thus he felt compelled to execute a Daring And Life-Threatening Rescue Raid. He toddler-sprinted across the room, scooped the doll up in his arms, sprinted back across the room and threw himself down on top of the doll in an attempt to shield “her” from the dreaded beast. Upon my wife retelling this story, my heart just about burst with pride, laughter and love for the little guy.
Fatherhood is a blast, I tell you whut.

I Smell A Bedtime Story Prospect

Dr. Helen (otherwise known as the InstaWife, spouse of Glenn Instapundit Reynolds) pointed out a book enticingly titled The Dangerous Book for Boys. A description of the book from the Telegraph (UK) review of the book reads:

It’s amazing that The Dangerous Book For Boys ever got published, really, given the deeply unfashionable connotations surrounding two out of the five words in the title (the ones that aren’t “The”, “Book” and “For”).
The very thought of an educational volume that sets out both to exclude a specific gender and to promote activities with questionable health and safety implications is enough to bring the ultimate condemnation that the world of mealy-mouthdom has to offer – that of being “inappropriate”.
Just a glance down the contents page gives a pretty good clue of the direction in which the authors’ minds are heading. Even before page 100, chaps will have learnt how to decipher enemy code, make a bow and arrow and plant a tripwire that will alert them to the imminent arrival of baddies in the camp.

The book is headed Stateside later this year. I think it might very well be worth picking up for young master Will. Heck, I think I’d like to read it through a time or two, particularly along with Will.
I fondly recall the insaneenjoyably dangerous games my brother and I participated in as kids: bicycle tag, dirt clod wars, Kill The Man With The Ball (“Smear The Queer”, as it used to be called, has dropped out of favor for obvious reasons), playground boxing matches and the all-purpose “Hey, Check This Out!”, a “game” whose closest adult analog is the Jeff Foxworthy-esque “Hey, Watch This. Hold My Beer.”, among others. I hope that I can inspire, or at least allow for these sorts of behaviors in my children – play styles that encourage inventiveness and imagination without fully entering into Johnny Knoxville/Bam Margera territory. I just hope everyone in America hasn’t decided to keep council on retainer by the time he’s old enough to enjoy himself thusly…

Oh How The Days Fly By

Daddy and Will.
Around a year and a day ago, I was finishing up my round of “He’s here! And he’s a ‘he’!” calls from the hospital room and settling down with my wife and son (gosh, how strange that sounded at the time!) for our first night together. The quiet insistence of the new reality, namely: there’s a whole new person here, and we’re responsible for him! was setting in. It all seems to magical and so far away now.
Will and the balloon.
Will turned 1 on Tuesday and it’s safe to say that my love and adoration for my son has only grown with each of the 367 days that have passed since his birth. I love how he has grown, how he shows ever more personality on a daily basis and how he gives every indication of being a bundle of energy, intelligence and mischief. Happy birthday, Bud. I love you.

Adult Children And Their Effect On Society

James Lileks had an absolute humdinger of a screed the other day concerning the manifest childishness of what passes for “culture” and “intellectual thought” these days. The whole thing is worth a read, but I think these brief excerpts really go a long way towards capturing the overall feel of the piece:

I’m not going to defend [Senator Joe] McCarthy, because he was a brute and boor and a butter-eating drunk who set back the anti-Communist cause four decades. To say that he was sorta right, in the sense that there were Commies about, is like saying that J. Robert Oppenheimer had a salutory effect on Japanese urban renewal. I’m not interested in those debates right now. I’d just like to point out that it’s a little late in the game to trot out a play about the mean old witch-hunts. The bravery of the scrappy idealists! The piggish philistinism of the anti-commie brutes! The smothering wet quilt of Conformity that held America motionless until it was thrown off by the undulating hips of Elvis! (Did you know they didn’t show him below the waist on TV, at first! True! It was horrible, the Fifties; no one had sex without weeping in shame afterwards. Sometimes during.) It’s just interesting how Westerners think that that Red Scare was a historical event of such towering proportions it trumps the tales of the Soviet Union in the same period. US version: communist sympathizers frozen out of screenwriting jobs, justly or unjustly. USSR version: actual communists killed in ghastly numbers by a parody of a legal system underwritten by brute force and an industrialized penal system built on slave labor. Why is the latter ignored, and the former celebrated?
There’s a clinical psychological term for all this, and it’s “Pissed at Daddy.”
It made me think (I was weeding today, doing lawnwork, and that lends itself to crank-think) of the perpetual adolescent strain in post-WW2 culture. Before the 50s, when there were actual problems like an interminable Depression and Nazis, adolescents were mostly unseen in the culture. You had kids, and you had grown-ups. Adolescents were young grownups, expected to adhere to the same general rules of behavior. It was an adult culture, and adolescents were the interns. The culture would tolerate some things like Bobby Soxers, but with wry eye-rolling amusement. After the war, though, the adolescent was not only the focus of the culture’s attention, he was taken seriously. He was an inarticulate oracle, a mumbling sage, a jeering jester with a switchblade. One of the dumbest lines in cinema is one of the most famous: asked what he’s rebelling against, Marlin Brando’s character in the “The Wild Ones” says “Whaddya got?”

I, too, wonder what has happened to our society. Why do we expect so little from our adolescents? Why can’t we honestly expect adult-like behavior from our “young adults”, instead of constantly infantilising them? Is this phenomenon connected to the Nation of Wimps trend that we’ve talked about previously?
We treat our children like children and we treat our teens like children, at least in most social situations, but then if a parent decides to ban their children from, say, The Simpsons or Shock! Horreur! decry the exposure of Janet Jackson’s mamary terminus on live national TV, they are derided as a prude and a backwards-looking Puritan. So what’s a genuinely concerned parent to do?