“Here William, let me show you something.”
It sounds innocuous, right? I mean as parents we are supposed to teach our kids life lessons and show them the instructions and outs of being children, students, life, love, and everyday happiness even if at times it feels difficult. Although now that sounds more like life.
But I heard that statement come out of me to my son the other night. Not as I was about to show him my skilled dance moves. And it wasn’t as I going to show him how to build a table out of wood. But it was in a video that I was watching.
He had placed our GoPro in front of his LEGOs and was recorded him playing with them. I think he was reenacting a scene from Jurassic Park when in the background I walk up and stand for a few seconds. As a video producer you would think that I would have walked away; one because I was standing in the background of the next Emmy award-winning film but two because my son was taking to a passion of mine, video production.
But the truth of the matter was that even though I was proud, part of me was annoyed. I have a hard time understanding that many people don’t know what it takes to produce a high-quality video. My son is 7 and you would think that I would realize that with him but I also have a hard time remembering that he is only a kid.
When I came upon that clip of video, hearing me say, “Here William, let me show you something.” struck a nerve with me. It wasn’t because I was trying to teach him the right way to produce a video. It wasn’t because I wanted to butt myself into something that he considered fun.
I saw something in me that I had seen in several other videos prior to this clip. Me, a helicopter parent, standing in the background watching, judging, and not coaching but telling my son what to do.
I did what I am most against as a parent, I was hovering. There was something inside of me that thought maybe, just maybe, William could produce the next viral video and I would be the next LaVar Ball producing a series of videos just for Facebook.
I wasn’t allowing my son the creativity and freedom to produce his own feature film. I was inserting myself into it, and it wasn’t the first time that this had happened. I wasn’t even trying to involve myself to the point where I was a supporting role. No, I was wanting to be the lead actor and executive producer.
This isn’t the type of dad that I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be the dad who was constantly giving advice to my son, who is 7, and sometimes has a hard time understanding the things that I am telling him, or really could care less.
Here is the deal, I am offering advice to him during times when he is trying to do something fun. My advice immediately ruins the fun that he is having. Whether it is playing with his LEGOs, walking around the house taking pictures of random items, how to shoot a basketball, or teaching him how to strap the GoPro onto his bike helmet as he Evel Knievel’s down the hill on our street… ok that one we both had fun with.
It’s hard for me to remind myself that he is only seven. Eventually, he will be producing a video better than any I ever did, he will be building a LEGO creation better than I ever built, and might even play college basketball… something I only dreamt of.
There is something that I need to remember, and I think that all parents need to remember, even when we feel like we are helping our kids, many times we are ruining their fun. I’ve had more smiles sitting back watching my sons just have fun even if I would have done it differently. And sometimes, the best moments are captured when you do.