MAYBE I HAVEN'T SCREWED UP MY KIDS!It was February 2001, when I found out that I was to be a father for the first time...I was thrilled. Seriously, I was. My wife was worried that I would feel I was too young. It was actually my 24th birthday when I found out that my life would forever be changed...in a good way.
My first daughter, Lea, was born 5 weeks prematurely later that August. I made all the same mistakes that a first time father does. I am the oldest too and my dad always told me, that I was the experimental child. The first born is the child you test everything out on.
I was over-protective. The entire house should have been layered with bubble wrap for Lea's protection. I was...and still am, controlling. My wife and I worried about her self-esteem. We thought we had royally screwed her up. To this day, Lea, now almost 12, still asks permission for everything.
Yet, when I begin to take stock in what has developed out of the relationship my daughter and I have..I start to believe that maybe I haven't screwed her up! Maybe I am not as bad a father as I think.
I used to read stories to her every single night, and when she got older I began telling stories. Sometimes, I would use funny voices. One of her favorites was Kermit the Frog. After a while, those stories created the Land of Mistasia and became the Phillip & Whizzy trilogy of novels.
Because of those stories, Lea began writing for herself. Her form of expression is different than mine. She prefers poetry to prose. This past year she even combined her two favorite forms of art, poetry and dance, at her high school talent show (read blog: Life is like a talent show). That night I had the realization that my shy, timid daughter, the one I thought I had been too hard on, had developed into a confident and determined young girl. It made me proud!
When my second daughter, Kyra, was born. I had a completely different approach. There were nearly 4 years between the girls and I had plenty of time to reflect upon my parenting skills by then. So for Kyra, I apparently went in the complete opposite direction. No, not exactly no rules...there are still plenty of those. I was far less protective. To prove it, Kyra has a lovely scar on her chin. She was standing on the arm of the couch and fell. This would have never happened with Lea, but over-correction isn't a sin...I'm pretty sure on that!
As Kyra grew, my wife and I began to worry about her. She didn't communicate with us very often. She seemed anti-social and disconnected. We worried that she might be Autistic and had her tested. Fortunately, she was classified with a slight speech delay. Kyra had basically decided that since she didn't understand what anyone was saying...she would just ignore us.
That's where the...I screwed-up-my-kid worries began. Our school district had a program to help Kyra through her communication delay. There we discovered an array of unique tendencies that our little girl was displaying; such as tip-toeing in bare feet because the feel of the ground bothered her, she would throw fits when she became frustrated just to name a few. That was the ah-ha moment for me, as I realized that I displayed nearly every one of her odd quirks too. Then, came the guilt.
Yet again, as Kyra entered kindergarten a few years after beginning the program designed to correct her communication delay...I start to believe that maybe I haven't screwed her up! Maybe both of my girls will be okay...despite having me as their father!
Kyra is 8 now...and still a bundle of energy. (So much so she performs cartwheels in the living.) She has kept some of her cuter traits and developed some interesting new ones, like being able to read a book and listen to someone else read another aloud...and retain both. Unreal!
She has developed into an avid reader...including her father's books, loves to draw (See her pic of me), and even helped me create a whole new world...the Kingdom of Mortuga. She drew a series of book covers, modeled after the Phillip & Whizzy covers, one afternoon. Soon our whole family began talking about Kyra's artwork and Mortuga was born. The first novel might be ready for Christmas 2013...fingers crossed!
Parenting has its challenges (One of mine is called Kyra), but no matter how much you think you have screwed your kids up there is always something you have given them that they will treasure. Hopefully, Lea & Kyra will continue to strengthen the good things I have given them and learn to work through the bad.
Love you girls.
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