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Those words eventually came - parenting from a dad's perspective
Peter Fragola is an author, writer, school principal, husband and father of two from Connecticut.
Recently he joined Team Baby Jack to provide a parenting perspective from a dad.
Way before I became a parent, I could have guessed that raising a child would involve happiness and fear… joy and sadness… laughter and tears. I watched enough 90210 and Full House to know parenting Isn’t easy.
I’ll be honest, I pictured this parenting thing being a lot easier than it has been. The highs can be so high, but the lows can be so low.
Realizing that I’m not going to raise the perfect child… the by the book, meet the developmental milestones has been tough especially for the elementary school principal who has spent his entire life working to improve young children’s academic and social/ emotional development has been hard.
We have so much fun together. I can make him laugh with just a look… and he can make me laugh just by laughing. But the times when we get STUCK… neither of us able to figure out what it is the other is trying to say… when he is trying so hard to tell me something… to watch the frustration build as he tries harder and harder to convey his message… it’s heart breaking. It’s been one of if not the worst feeling as a parent for me so far.
I sat three feet from my son Jax. I listened intently as he “talked” to me about something. I talked back… he listened and then answered with some words that were understandable and others that were not. I answered him and asked him things to illicit more conversation. I watched as his expression slowly changed as he realized I wasn’t quite understanding him. Frustration began to set in, which turned into tears. Tears that no parent wants to see. The tears that can’t be fixed with a hug, or a bandaid, or a few words of encouragement… Those are the worst.
Immediately I tried to process a million things… What was he trying to say? Am I not listening hard enough? What does that sign he’s making mean? Can he point to what he wants? What is he saying? I found myself asking him things over and over like we were playing 20 Questions. It was a horrible, helpless feeling.
My wife Stephanie and I had tears streaming down our faces and our son gave up hope and collapsed face first onto the couch and cried.
It was my lowest moment as a dad. I had to help my son and couldn’t. I struggle with balancing letting him deal with things on his own and protecting him from harm. But this was different. It was just sadness. It was a little boy trying so hard to be understood. It was my little boy trying to tell me something. It was a difficult night.
Then each new day is a new opportunity for improvement. Frustration and sadness are part of the parenting process. I know he’s got those words in there somewhere… and they’ll come when he’s ready! So I’ll just keep the faith and keep encouraging my little man to be the best he can be… even if the encouragement comes with some tears (mostly mine).
Those words eventually came… they came and came and came (and now he wont stoop talking)! Now a big focus is on continuing his improvements and making gains in his academic, social and emotional development from day to day… this includes his willingness to make efforts to understand the differences in people we meet every day. Each child’s development happens different from the next… how do we as parents work with our children to develop not only self-worth, but empathy and acceptance.
There’s too much hate and negativity in our world today. Let’s all try to at the very least be respectful to one another. One day... maybe we can actually learn to accept each other for our differences and enjoy those around us... especially our children. Like a wise man once said... “Happiness can only exist in acceptance.”
We here at #TEAMBABYJACK celebrate every child no matter nationality,age, race, gender. Our product represents more than just a children’s toy. It represents love, acceptance and most of all... it represents the differences that not only each of our team members brings to the company, but the differences that each person who buys our product represents in our community. We are a family made up people from all walks of life... and that’s what makes us who we are. We are #TeamBabyJack...and we represent you.