The Weenie Gene

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Most of my friends would describe me as a risk-taker.   I like to launch businesses without a safety net — you know, before the requisite two weeks of salary was squirreled away.   I’ve started three businesses that way.  I also take investment risks.  My favorite investment strategy is to buy stocks that are poised for rebound. Take for instance, my most recent purchase, Bank of America.  I got in on that one nicely for 6 times more than it is trading today — a rebound phenomenon known as the dead cat bounce.  I must like dead cats because I hold them too, except Apple. As my investment fortune would have it, I was able to unload my shares in that company three weeks before the stock skyrocketed on the debut of the iPod. 

Yes, you could say I’ve had my share of fun in business and finance. But when it comes to my children, I’m a weenie.  It started, oddly enough, when they were born. I distinctly remember feeling a little strange that there was no one monitoring what we were going to be doing with this new package we just brought home. That new life was ours to tend to.  We were on our own. I remembered the last time I felt like that. I was sixteen, driving away from the license examiner station. Not what you’d call a confidence inspiring memory.  I looked for reassurance in my wife’s face — any sign that she’s read the “Welcome to your new baby” manual. I sure hadn’t.  

Boy on gym ropes

My wife laughs at my weenie-ness.  When my daughter was little, just learning to stuff food in her face, I got nervous watching her wave a spoon about like a pirate wields a sword — particularly when it ended up in her mouth.  “Anna, get that spoon away from her, she’s going to choke herself.”  She laughed.  And when I ran over to pull the toddler out from under the coffee table so that she wouldn’t hit her head trying to sit up, my wife laughed again. “How’s she going to learn where her head is at?” she asked me. The question made me wonder where my wife’s head was at.  Or, what about the time I caught my kids at the park jumping from the top of the playground equipment, without the repercussion of a onlooking mother’s reprimand?  My wife glared at me tauntingly, “Leary, you gotta lighten up.  You’ve got a weenie gene.”

Perhaps I became a weenie about my kids because of my own youthful misadventures.  Things, of course, were different when I was growing up.  Parents didn’t need to worry as much about the safety of their children among strangers.  They could be out of sight and out of mind. But I worry that it’s the things that haven’t changed, the stuff that I passed down to my kids, that gives expression to my weenie gene.  I just plain did stupid stuff.  You know, like enjoying the way an icy pond sounds when you’re standing on it, just before it gives way? I liked that sound so much I’d drop the largest boulders I could carry on the ice crack I was standing over. Or how about sliding down the 30-foot sandstone and shale cliffs near my home into the river below? Or trying to walk across a homemade bed of nails?  Somewhere a loving parent with their own weenie gene should have been yelling at me.  Somewhere in my future a loving wife without one, however, is laughing.

SOUND OFF:  How did some of your youthful adventures shape you as a parent?

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