Nurturing The Seeds of Compassion

As a parent, you do your best to teach your child right and wrong, to make the right decisions, and of course, how to treat others. This is a huge challenge that every parent knows.

One habit I have is trying to give what I can to a homeless person when we are able to. I don’t do this to feel good about myself, I don’t do it to later tell people about, it’s just the right thing to do. Important. I only mention it here because of the little story I wanted to share. You see, my son sees me do this from time to time and over the years he’s asked “Daddy, why did you give them money/food.” The response my wife and I give him has been consistent the entire time “because when someone needs help, you should always try your best to help them when you’re able to.”

Today my wife called me at work after she has picked him up from school and made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a few things. She wanted to tell me about something that had happened while they were shopping. Apparently, there was a woman outside, a mother, with three of her children. She had a sign that said she was looking for work and needed any help anyone could offer. My son saw that sign and here was their conversation:

Son: “Momma, can we give her money?”
Wife: “I’m sorry, I don’t actually have any cash to give her” side note: my wife had also told him he could get a treat at the store
Son: “Well Momma, instead of getting me a treat, can we get something to help them?”
Wife: “Yes, we can definitely do that”

So, she took him shopping and got the items we needed, and then he went and picked out four ‘lunchables’ and four bottles of water. This was what he wanted to give them. A meal. They walked outside and found that the woman and her children were not there anymore. My wife tells me, he was instantly heartbroken and began to cry. He really wanted to give them what he had picked out. So, they put their things in the car and she walked him around the shopping complex carrying the bag of what he bought them, to see if they could be found. Luckily, my wife and son did find them, and he was able to give them the meal he had picked out. His heart was set on helping them the best he could, and he accomplished just that.

When my wife told me this, my heart swelled with happiness. Our son and a small act of selfless compassion. Watching the seeds of compassion take root, as a parent, we must continue to nurture that, to help it grow.

originally posted on Into My Own — June 2011

Planting Seeds for His Future

“It will look good on my resume”

One day last year, our son brought home an application to run for student council. This was a great surprise for both my wife and I; neither of us had ever run for office during our school years. We quickly acted upon his request and started a discussion with him on what position he was deciding to run for, as well as assisting him with evaluation of each position available.

Then I stopped and had a short conversation with him.

I’m very impressed that you want to do this.

Yeah, I think I should.

It is definitely a commitment if you get elected. Are you positive this is what you want to do?

It will look good on my resume.

I smiled.

That is fantastic. Mom and I are proud of you for trying this. Neither of us were brave enough to try.

You see, some months ago, we were having a conversation about college. He is a great student and has always been very strong with mathematics and technology and has a love of video games.


When we bought him his first Nintendo DS, I remember walking into the office and seeing him using YouTube. When I looked further, he had a game paused, would watch a video for a bit, then play. Back and forth until the completion of this level. I realized, on his own, he had enough knowledge to use the available videos to pass a level. I barely remember even showing him YouTube, much less to use it in this manner. He was four years old.

Heck, he cleared the first level of Pac-Man at the age of two.

He has also taken several programming classes already, and we are active with a Hacker Guild under the ‘Curiosity Hacked’ organization.

Needless to say, I have a hunch his future is in technology.

With all that in mind, I had first shown him all the hacks/pranks MIT students have done over the years. From the Great Dome being redone to look like R2-D2 to the Green Building being turned into a playable Tetris, he was impressed. This sparked his interest in the school.

After doing a little looking, I found that MIT offers an excellent write up ‘What To Do In High School’ on their admissions page. He and I went through this page; math, physics, biology. Also, a discussion on extracuricular activities. I made him aware grades are good, but he also will want to show that he was the one to take on more.

I knew that our conversation about college and his future sunk in when he told me “It will look good on my resume.”

And it made me smile ear to ear.

I want to encourage him to continue to think like this. I never did, and the way I see it, my job is to help him be successful. (Deep down I truly want him to be better than me.) But at the same time, I need to ensure this thinking does not burden him with unnecessary pressure. He is only 10, first and foremost, right now he needs to have a good childhood.

Just keep planting seeds, slowly watering them, and my wife and I will watch him continue to grow into an amazing human being.

I know of no better reward.

Being Worthy

just me & my best buddy

“That’s My Dad!”

We were watching Thor for the umpteenth time the other day and he told my wife, “my Dad is bigger than Thor!”

On Thanksgiving he was helping me put up Christmas lights at his Grandma’s house. One of the necessary steps in doing so is to throw an outdoor extension cord over the roof. I threw it, and as it landed on the other side I could hear him tell his cousins, with a certain amount of pride in his voice, “My Dad threw that.”

Lately, he’s been joining me in the garage when I do my weight training. I’ll have him count my reps for me, and then ask him if it was good. He has been lifting a bit with me as well. I’ll hear him say “one more, Dad!” and you know I do everything I can for that last rep.

I have taken him to watch strongman competitions in person on multiple occasions. In fact, we were lucky enough to spend a bit of time with professional strongman Brad Dunn once. And from time to time we watch World Strongman competitions on TV. As we were watching one day, I heard him tell my wife, “Dad can do that.” I didn’t correct him.

Later, after I tucked him in to bed, my wife and I were downstairs talking.

“You know, he sees you as big as the strongmen that are competing.”

I guess I had aways got a hint of the sense of pride in his voice when I hear him say “that’s my Dad.” However, when I heard my wife say it as plain as day, it really stuck with me.

Not only do I need to be the strong man my son holds me to be, I also need to be a man of compassion, a good man, a kind man, and a man who isn’t afraid to show his love and his vulnerability. In other words, a true man, with true strength.

One of my goals in life is to live up to the image my son has of me when he says with a certain amount of pride “That’s MY Dad!” And, I expect it will be a goal of mine till my last breath. In my mind, that is just a territory that comes with being worthy of the name Dad.