Father Forgets

Today is my youngest child’s tenth birthday and every year I have a reminder set to reread Father Forgets by W. Livingston Larned. Since I’ve been doing this I’ve been convicted every year about how I let little things upset and annoy me and it always gives me a reset to refocus. Here is the poem in its entirety:


Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive-and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding-this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

There was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

A Good Walk Spoiled

pineisland

It’s been just over a year since I broke my hand and I was finally able to play golf for the first time yesterday.  The weather was chilly and I played terribly, but just being outside away from the computer was great. There is something about being out in nature that gives me clarity on problems and helps clear my head.

Another thing that I’ve found useful is after working on a coding problem and getting it working, go for a short walk and just think about the solution again. Typically I’ll get ideas on how to make the code better, and think of other side effects I might not have originally seen.

 

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

This is a passage from Theodore Roosevelt speech The Man in the Arena, and I feel like it’s a great ode to all the creators. It’s so easy to get down from the peanut gallery of the world, and it’s nice finding great quotes like this to lift your spirits.

Local Elections

Early voting is in full swing in my area and I had the ability to go over my lunch break yesterday and cast mine. This year was short and sweet with only the mayor and three city council races.

I know we all focus on the presidential elections but these local ones probably affect you directly more than national races ever will, and these typically have small turnouts. So your one vote could potentially carry more weight. It’s definitely worth your time to research the local candidates and make your voice heard.

Command + Q

As part of my normal routine, I check Twitter throughout the day and I like to see what my friends are sharing.  For the most part, it’s pretty mundane, lots of programmery topics, people sharing personal things, the usual.

But some days I’m just in a weird mood and will see a few tweets that just trigger me. Before I respond and write something I’ll regret I just quit the app and get back to work. Then when I come back later whatever annoyance I had is usually lost in the shuffle. Unless I’m using the official Twitter app which keeps wanting to show “top tweets”, then I remember to open Tweetbot.

I know stepping away is nothing new, but based on the replies I get, many of us struggle with just not replying. We love to tell people how wrong they are, and how they should feel bad for being so wrong.

 

Pros and Cons

My kids want a dog, it’s all they’ve been talking about for a few weeks now.  As a kid, they can’t understand what all is involved in having a pet.  I told them to make a pros and cons list on having a new pet, and the only con they came up with is a puppy will chew on things. Their perspective was so skewed to what they wanted they had tunnel vision. 

If we are not careful we can get this same tunnel vision when we really want something.  It could be anything from starting a new side project to releasing something open source, or a new car, or even just spending money on stuff when we shouldn’t be.  

Too often instead of thinking through everything, we jump in feet first and then quite literally pay for it later.  Where if we would just slow down, think through the unfavorable factors we’d save ourselves lots of heartaches.