As has been the case for the last week I awoke this morning to my wife letting me know she would be leaving soon for work and my shift with Elijah until 9:30 when the nanny arrives was beginning. As has been the case for the last week I was in the middle of a dream scape that was reminiscent of Salvador Dali painting with characters from a Tim Burton movie. Although you may think this is quite strange, All my life I have dreamed in batches of days every six to nine months, or so. Fate smiled fondly upon me and Elijah allowed us both to nap until 8:30, when I presented him with a bottle and a promise of play.

Elijah and I ate then played until 9:25 leaving but a few moments until our nanny, Elizabeth, arrived. As I passed off my son I wandered in thought as I finished my preparations for the day. Finish eating. Check. Brush teeth. Check. Ponder my past workouts and the PRpalooza to begin tomorrow. Checked far too often! After these actions I began thinking about this blog.

I’m new to blogging so my first thought was what is the purpose of this blog? It has already been established that it would not just be about powerlifting, but then in what direction would I take it. I started thinking of what, I hoped, might be some catchy post titles: ‘Diapers and Dreams, The Mayhem of Mathematics or possibly something catchy with Barnes and Noble in it, my planned destination for the day. This is when I realized that during the drive to my first stop I had wandered into thought on what my changing powerlifting goals were and the landscape of my dreams in general. Mind you, not the dreams of sleep, but the dreams of grand plans and calculated risks.

Considering my dreams for the future I begaan to think of how my dreams had changed since my youth and what they were and were becoming. As a child I looked up to my Grandfather as a Naval aviator in WWII and a teacher during my childhood. It was he who introduced me to weightlifting and gave me my first weight set. I also had my parents as role models. My Father was an engineer working at Plant Vogle in Georgia and my mother was a stay at home mom. She would later return to college to finish a degree in English. As is often the case, my dreams as a child were not of a profession specifically, rather I thought I would be a bodybuilder. It was later that my first career goal was to enter the Navy and proceed strait to the Nuclear electronics technician school, spend six years in the military and become a control room operator at a nuclear plant. That plan fell by the wayside due to an unplanned change in my enlistment status. Over the years my plans and dreams would change often. In time I married my wife, Ann, and have recently had my first son, Elijah. They are the centers of myself which I build my dreams around now.

I have experienced many changes over the last six years of my marriage. Some humbling, graduate school, and some terrifying, my first brush with anaphylaxis. Each has shaped me, but none so much as the arrival of Elijah. I have always had an overactive imagination. Possibly the consequence of being ADHD long before it became the in vogue diagnosis for every child who squirmed in his desk at school. These days my imagination takes me down the path of dead lifts in the 800 and 900 lb range, a herculean accomplishment for the most gifted of athletes, a sudden clarity in my mathematical studies and completion of my Ph.D., but more often than not the growth of my son and the realization of his dreams.

Elijah’s dreams are formless now and will change throughout his life as mine have. I hope that he will have dreams similar to mine and accomplish them all, but must content myself with him building his own utopia independent of my dreams. Will he enjoy lifting weights, will he play team sports, will his pursuit be erudition or will he cultivate dreams I can neither imagine or hope to pursue in my life? As a father I find the burden of raising a gentleman who respects women and stands up for those in need overwhelming. How can I be the man I need to be to raise a son into a man better than I have been?

I have always been a bit stubborn. I have succeeded where better men have failed or given up. The age old adage he who holds on the longest wins has been the story of my life. In light of this truth I have failed, and failed often. I find that I fight an uneasy battle with myself on when the proper time to walk away is and when to stay and fight. It could be the case that I hold on when the wiser man would find a new path. I find the greatest lessons lie in how we respond to failure, a skill I believe has been forgotten by our youth today. This is a complicated concept to teach a child. To be sure there are questions we will all face from our children: May I get a tattoo, a car, a puppy? The burden in the answer is in responding with more than the a terse answer supported with only a “because I said so”.

Our answers to the small questions, “may I have some candy?”, are the seeds we must sow to face the greater questions in raising a child; “drug, sex and rock-n-roll”, if you will. Our answers may be based on our experiences. You may have gotten the tattoo you always dreamed of on spring break and regret it now. They may also be based on our strengths. You waited until marriage to have sex and your child should be strong enough to also. Unfortunately we are but lighthouses on stormy nights trying to guide a row boat which has the tenacity of an air craft carrier. Our strength lies in the dreams of our child when faced with these questions.

Your child’s dreams not only begin with you, but begin as a dream of becoming you. In light of this we need always pursue our hopes for our children with the actions we take each day. A physically active child has that example in their parents. A voracious reader is surrounded by books from the time of their birth. Honesty is the child of integrity. These things all are born in their mind from the seeds of your actions. So I return to the primary question of this post. How can I be the example that Elijah needs to build ostentatious dreams, find the love of Shakespeare? How can I teach him that failure is the path upon which humility enables our greatness? There is but one tool to pave the path through his life’s difficulties and to his dreams, whatever they may be.

The actions we take both in their presence and when we believe they are not looking. A parent, and in particular a father, must first be there. They must act with integrity and honesty when interacting with others. They must aspire to not use the phrases of their parents; “because I said so,” and instead use each act of discipline as an opportunity to redirect with the appropriate behavior. They should discuss their child’s dreams with each child and help to sow the seeds for them to reach those dreams. They must let their dreams be those of their child and know that the success of their child is their greatest achievement and find happiness in whatever that may be.

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