We had talked so much, at length, for hours about the kind of parents we wanted to be. We had done for years. We wanted to take the best bits of those around us, of ourselves too, and form a healthy, well rounded lifestyle for the three of us.
The things we kept coming back to were these…
Lifestyle : we didn’t want to teach our child to become obsessed over weight by watching us be obsessed over weight (we are yo yo dieters…). We wanted to change our focus to creating a healthy outdoor loving family, confident at trying new foods and new activities. We wanted to play on the big field at the back of the house, go to the park, take in the countryside. We were going to do this from day one. I can’t remember when, either just before or just after he died, I took down our weight chart in the kitchen and replaced it with positive images – pictures from our charity runs, running numbers, family and friends.
Phones : the buzz topic in parenting habits at the moment but we were fully aware of our phone habits and knew, from day one, we wanted to break it. Phone amnesty whilst in the house. This was always going to be a tricky one to change, and we aren’t doing too well at it…
Compassion : we didn’t want to teach our child the ease of making snap judgements of people, critiquing someone’s actions or appearances, or failing to see things from other people’s points of view. We made the vow to try never to bitch or moan about people infront of our child, so that he didn’t see us being negative about others, or learn the language of critique. We knew that growing up in a same-sex military family would potentially invoke feelings of ‘difference’ and we wanted to teach our child acceptance for all, inclusion.
Confidence : most of all, we wanted to nurture our child to feel confident to approach new and different environments, to be able to stand up for himself with dignity, honesty and tolerance. To be able to handle the pressures he faced with grace. To strive for a better world. This would have been no easy challenge but you have to aim big. Years ago, I always remember posting on my Facebook, that if my future son became even half the man that Zachary Wahls became – I’d be so proud. This is the video that prompted that, and is an inspiration to what I wanted to help nurture into adulthood.
Most of all though, my wife just wanted to be able to teach him to tie his shoes. And to catch. Because I’m not very good at that one.
I think in the end, Leo will end up teaching us a lot more than we could have ever taught him.