What Do You Believe In?

My eleven year old son lost a tooth the other night in what has been a succession of lost teeth over the last few weeks. The only difference with this one is the tooth fairy forgot to  slip some money under his pillow in exchange for the tooth (damn short term memory).

This led to a discussion with Mom about, well, how Mom and Dad actually are the tooth fairy. Over the initial shock, he seemed to take it pretty well. Since his reaction was less than explosive, my wife took it a step further… to include Santa and the Easter Bunny.

At first, I couldn’t believe she was doing it. I think both my son and daughter are growing up too fast as it is, and I wasn’t sure if telling him that Santa and his reindeer are fiction was the greatest idea.

I thought, in the past,  maybe my writing partner Gabrielle would spill the beans to her brother about Santa and his holiday crew (she has an affinity for the Great Pumpkin). Impressively, she kept it tightly under wrap.

Turns out he suspected it, anyway. Although Suzie and I have always made a big fuss about leaving cookies and milk for Santa and seeing hoof prints from the reindeer in the snow, the little boy spied gifts from Santa he unwrapped on Christmas Day in the back of a mini van in a department store bag.

I know they’re growing up. I know the concept of “being realistic” is setting in.

I knew they weren’t going to believe forever.

Tooth fairy or not…there’s some things Dad thinks they have to believe:

I want them to believe in themselves. Without self confidence, the world can be a hard place. Even if they don’t feel confident, I’d like to see them fake it. Until they are. With a good dose of confidence, their opportunities will open right up.

I want them to believe that they will always have something to offer the world. Because they do. I’ve already posted of my daughter’s budding talents in art, writing, and photography. My son already has a martial arts black belt, and is honing his skill in baseball. They have the ability now to help and inspire others if they want to.

I want them to believe that no matter how many times they get knocked down, they can always get back up. Dad can tell them a little about rejection. I work with it every day. The sting of rejection goes away the more you deal with it.  If you’re not meeting some resistance, you’re not doing anything of consequence.

I want them to believe there are no shortcuts. The very best way to win, do a task, fulfill a dream, achieve a goal is desire: to want it just a little bit more than the next guy (or girl) and give maximum effort to do it.

It’s a very simple solution that their great grandparents could have taught them. Just outwork everybody else.

I want them to believe, no matter what, Mom and Dad will always have their back. Enough said here. My wife and I could not imagine loving anyone more. We’ve got your back.

I want them to believe that no matter how old they get, living the dream is always possible. Even if they get caught up in the cycle of education, getting a job, paying the bills, wrestling with the mortgage, and wondering if a retirement is even possible… they can always believe in something more, no matter what “it” is.

Even if you’re in your forties and you still wonder what you may be when you finally grow up…you’ve still got time.

That’s my case. What do you believe in?

14 thoughts on “What Do You Believe In?

  1. Great stuff Joe. I have three kids: 8, 6 and 2. They all still believe in the tooth fairly and the easter bunny and santa.

    The day is quickly approaching that my oldest kids will discover that Santa is a hoax. I expect this to happen pretty soon. There’s no rush – but I know it will happen on it’s own (school kids talk!).

    But more importantly like you, I want my kids to have beliefs much more rich than made up stuff like the tooth fairy. The list you provided is great and I could feel the passion in the tone of your writing.


    1. Jk, both my son and daughter heard from other kids at school about Santa et al, but I’m not sure if my son wanted to believe them. I think that’s part of the reason my wife told him, she didn’t want kids at school teasing him. You are right, it’s on top of you before you know it! You’ve got some time though, especially with the 6 and the 2 YO…

      Have a great weekend, man!

  2. Joe,
    Ahhh….I can relate to that short term memory when it comes to the tooth fairy. On more than one occasion, I’ve had to sneak in early in the morning, trying not to wake these (all too light) sleepers!

    Believing. Love what you’ve shared for your children. When we can instill beliefs like these in our kids, we give them a solid start in life…and what a wonderful thing that is!

    1. This made me laugh, Lance. You have got to be stealth when making the money/tooth exchange under that pillow!

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Hi Joe,

    I am new to your site. This is a great way to grow up knowing. I wish I was your kid so that I could have embraced such wonderful and positive philosophies early in life. I sure will be preaching this to myself, my wife and children as they grow with me. Just think how much more we can all achieve having this form of thinking as our foundation to living.

  4. Love this Joe. You guys are youngsters. I am 54 going on 20 (debatable) ok 15. Anyway, your list of things to believe in is right on. I went through all that stuff as a step-dad. It was weird. wasn’t sure how to handle it, but it all worked out. I have just recently figured out what I want to do when I grow up. What ? I’m too old for the NFL ? Dam. Ok. I want to do what i am doing. Sharing the CARE message with as many people as possible.
    Thanks again Joe. This is great.


    1. Al, we could probably try out as place kickers, that would be it. I’d say punter too, but I’d be afraid of roughing the kicker penalties 🙂

      Thanks for commenting, glad you enjoyed the post…

  5. Joe, (Tweeted!)

    Oh man, I’ve had that short term memory problem 🙂 I like the talk, but Santa and the Easter Bunny, c’mon, man! When my oldest son was about seven or eight I tried to call and pretend I was Santa, really. He called me on it pretty quickly and I knew the illusion was over.

    Here’s to fighting the resistance and pushing through, and teaching your kids there are no shortcuts, but don’t give up on the dreams, man.

    Like Jack, I’m in my forties and am also just figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, if I ever do 🙂

    1. I don’t know if there’s ever a chance of me growing up, Craig. I’m 48 going on 18. That’s how I feel anyway. 🙂 But even though I think like a teenager, I’m hoping my parenting skills are developing into something more. It’s a tough job, I think you need to be a little grown up to do it…

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Joe, I can’t argue nor do I want to about anything you wrote there. Two years ago my then 9 year-old son wrote a letter to the tooth fairy asking for his teeth back. I loved that letter and saved it.

    Sometimes the hardest part of being a father is knowing that they are going to get kicked in the teeth…hard and I can’t stop it. But at the same time I need for it to happen so that I can see them get back up. And they will same as your kids will because they will know that they have us to lean on.

    Last comment, I am in my forties and I am just figuring out what it is that I really want to do with my life. Fortunately we are young and there is time to make it all happen.

    1. Yup, you are still young in your forties, no question. There is more of a sense of urgency the further you go. I’m closer to the side of 50 now, and I need to temper that sense with the patience I need to be a parent. It’s a balancing act, no question. I’m having fun, though, that’s all that matters.

      Thanks Jack!

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