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Alaskan grandad wisdom

I have probably mentioned this before, but if you ever go to the bush of Alaska, know that everything you do is seen by everyone.  The towns are so small that your smallest actions will be noticed and gossiped around to everyone.  The barrier to entry in the culture is high and you can't just walk in and be accepted, but doing small things can get you in.  I got lucky and spent a few of my first days reading comic books to children in the playground and I was seen.  A family took a liking to me and I got myself some grandparents.  Yay.  My grandad and I had some good talks and I want to share one with you now.  This isn't a quote, but whatever, it'll sound cool this way:

I love my child most when I watch him overcome adversity with his own strength.  For adults, this can be painstakingly time consuming, but you must remember, before white man came, we had all the time in the world.  I would go out and fish all day and have huge parties every night.  

When I watched my boy, I would watch him like I would watch a moose-- out of sight, but with my presence known.  My boy would search and play and figure things out.  If he hurt himself, I was always right there, but he had to encounter the world on his own terms.  When talking to him, I would joke him and find ways to laugh.  His confusion was entertaining, but his imagination grew every day.  This is hardly mean because with kids, your emotions are theirs.  If you are stressed, they are.  If you are enjoying your time with your kid, that is what they feel.  

Watching my son overcome this world makes my heart soar.  When he was little, even opening the door without my help overflowed me.  As he grew, he came to trump me at my own stalking games.  That's when I knew I could take him hunting.  Seeing his face as he overcame nature... That moment... That moment was when I knew I had lived a full life.  Through challenging him and letting him scrape his knees safely, he has grown to the point that nothing can hurt him anymore.  To this day, I give my boy sarcasm and trouble that only an old man can give and to this day he grows even more.  

Unfortunately, this way of being is dying.  My son has too much to do to.  He has bills to pay and booze to kill himself with.  I didn't know about money until 1957 when the first plane landed in our waters.  Now even the runty have cell phones and are yelling at each other all boozed up.  An old man like me... I don't know what to do.  I have lived a full life, but now I find the next generation may not have that privilege.  Worse, I fear my boy has forgotten how to listen.

Depressing feels aside, he hit on two of the most important lessons one can learn about rearing the young or teaching in general.  

First, teaching is a fine balance.  Too much involvement and they learn that you will do it for them.  Too little involvement and they cannot benefit from your wisdom.  Striking that balance is key to parenting.  Teaching agency requires letting go.

Second, the pure of heart do not see events and words, they see emotions and rippling consequences.  All children are pure of heart by default.  No matter how much society tenderizes this pureness out of us, it will always remain.  Take it back.  My dear reader, you might think that feeling the true weight of events as a child does would cripple us emotionally, but the truth is that it sets us free.  

There will be more from my Alaskan grandparents, but for now I want to shout out to my own parents. I got lucky twice over.  I was shown both of today's lessons by my parents.  Represent.

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