“Why do men like me want sons?" he wondered. "It must be because they hope in their poor beaten souls that these new men, who are their blood, will do the things they were not strong enough nor wise enough nor brave enough to do. It is rather like another chance at life; like a new bag of coins at a table of luck after your fortune is gone.”
~ John Steinbeck, "Cup of Gold"
What, I might ask in response to Steinbeck’s muse, would I be able to offer that might make the evolution of the Vargo male complete?
I’ve pondered that for a great while and come to the conclusion that like a bad basketball team, we aren’t going to contend by adding one new player, we need many new players. Thus my sons, Matt, 15, and Sam, 11, have a lot of perfecting to get on with.
My father passed on the dogged perseverance that is a part of who I am to this day. He endured job loss, the death of a daughter at a young age and even now, as he celebrates his 75th birthday, the gradual loss of my mom to dementia. All of these things would be devastating for anyone, but he has maintained a very active life and an active interest in all manner of things.
His great joy is his music collection and cars. From this genetic pool I have added just a handful of my own good traits, I would contend. Drawing from my father’s experience, I ,too, love music and cars, but can neither play an instrument nor tinker with an engine.
The lessons that I impart to my sons are lessons that all parents impart to their children. We try to imbue them with confidence and the tools to deal with life’s peaks and valleys. All of this is useful, but it is also important to point out when your children are heading in a direction that could be trouble.
My father told me when I was heading down that path. Granted, I didn’t always listen to him, but that, I suppose, is part of being young. Age and experience, coupled with a good deal of perspective, allows us to chime in with some good advice.
After all, we know from experience. “Trust me on that one,” I’ll often say, “I know from experience that won’t work.”
I am usually the voice of organization and repetition in the house. The homework gets done at a certain time so that we can all relax after supper. When it comes to making sure my sons are prepared for tests and assignments, experience has taught me that you have to do the things you don’t like first before you can enjoy dessert.
Creativity is not my forte, so that is left to mom. She is the one that can help with freehand drawing or accenting a poster. "Girl advice" is left to her as well.
How to handle teachers and set out schedules, complete assignments and all the boring things that go into day-to-day routines fall to dear old dad.
Steinbeck is right. We do work to perfect ourselves in the next generation, but it will be up to our progeny to take that advice and. Like a good player at the game of life, we can pass our genes along and help to shape the children that will be taking care of us in a few years.