Good, Because Children Like Butterflies

One evening last week, I got a chance to meet up with a cou­ple of friends of mine who I used to work with back at URS Corp. (mega-engi­neer­ing com­pa­ny rough­ly 1,000 times the size of where I work now). One is a soon-to-be Dad, like me, only a cou­ple of months ahead. The oth­er is the father of two boys, ages 7–1/2 and 4.

We’re all struc­tur­al engi­neers and we did dis­cuss the nerdy, engi­neer­ing stuff for a lit­tle while. We also dis­cussed run­ning (all of us run) and some oth­er non-work inter­ests. How­ev­er, most of the evening’s con­ver­sa­tion revolved around deal­ing with preg­nan­cy and rais­ing chil­dren. It was great get­ting to talk about stuff like that with some good friends my age; one who’s been through it (twice) as well as some­one who’s essen­tial­ly going the exact same things as I am (real­ly that Angela and I are, just through the eyes of the dad­dy side of life). It’s not so much an advice giv­ing ses­sion as just a reas­sur­ance that I’m not crazy and that no one else real­ly has a clue with how to deal with this stuff. I think I’ve enjoyed get­ting to talk about this with a lot of friends and co-work­ers and this con­ver­sa­tion was par­tic­u­lar­ly fun.

After din­ner and a cou­ple of beers, we called it an evening and decid­ed we’d bet­ter get on home. As father-of-two and I were walk­ing down the side­walk talk­ing, he hap­pened to men­tion one thing that has also been on my mind a lot. He com­ment­ed on how fun­ny it was to talk with his mom and the dif­fer­ences on how he recalled his child­hood and how his mom did.

Although it’s not exact­ly what he was get­ting at, I think this is some­thing that both ter­ri­fies and fas­ci­nates me. I can recall a few instances of some­thing that one or the oth­er of my par­ents said to me which, although they prob­a­bly did­n’t mean to have so much weight behind it, stuck with me and real­ly affect­ed how I thought and act­ed. No, not some sort of deep men­tal scar­ring, just some­thing that would guide how I saw the world from then on.

I was born in the late sum­mer and, as in many places, that meant I could have start­ed school a year lat­er since my birth­day was right around the time the school year began. It was around the time that I was clos­ing in on my fifth birth­day that my mom asked me if I would like to go to school. Now, I’m sure she even phrased it as “would you like to go to Kinder­garten this year or wait until next year?” How­ev­er, I inter­pret­ed as sim­ply “would you like to attend school or not?” My young mind reeled at the pos­si­bil­i­ty of get­ting to stay home and play for­ev­er. How­ev­er, know­ing that I want­ed to grow up to be a sci­en­tist1, I deter­mined that the best course was for me to attend school and learn as much as pos­si­ble. I decid­ed that yes, I would have to go to school.

Now, rest assured, my par­ents were going to send me to school regard­less. They just might have wait­ed a year to put me in if I’d thrown a fit or some­thing. How­ev­er, had that hap­pened, I would have had an entire­ly dif­fer­ent set of class­mates and friends; pos­si­bly even dif­fer­ent teach­ers. I think that such changes could have been pret­ty rel­e­vant into how I devel­oped. That’s not real­ly good nor bad, save for the fact that I’m pret­ty fond of myself as I am now. Just an inter­est­ing thought on how one lit­tle pass­ing ques­tion could have had such a dra­mat­ic affect on me.

Sort of a “but­ter­fly effect” of child devel­op­ment.

  1. You see, I was con­vinced that if I became a chemist or biol­o­gist, I could even­tu­al­ly dis­cov­er how to turn ordi­nary peo­ple (e.g. – me) into super­heroes. I par­tic­u­lar­ly fig­ured I need­ed to devise a red flu­id which, upon drink­ing, would turn me into The Flash. I had­n’t yet decid­ed if I would need to change my name to Bar­ry Allen. []