I Learned it by Watching You!

088We certainly appear to have it all together. In public, most people would bet their lives that there is never even a hint of conflict in the Drago household. In fact, just last night we were invited over to dinner at another family’s house, and the end of the evening was quite predictable. Our gracious friends began to rave about the good nature of our children. They were polite, kind, and personable. I am a proud father indeed. Well done, right?

After a short car ride home, we walked into our front door, and it happened. Did you ever see a movie where a ship is sinking and that incredibly loud and annoying siren is blaring? Yeah, it was kind of like that, and the blaring was not a siren but children’s high-pitched voices bombarding off one another in anger. The switch had been flipped. Where were the lovely little ones from our friends’ house? What was once a calm, Cleaver-like atmosphere had instantly turned into pure bedlam, chaos, and conflict.

Am I using a bit of hyperbole to make a point? Perhaps, but this scene has become routine enough that it feels exactly like what I’ve described.

While brushing my teeth this morning, I tried thinking of some sort of snarky tweet that would paint last night’s picture. As I pondered the almost comical nature of the dichotomy I witnessed, a light bulb suddenly burned bright. I thought of that kid from the old drug commercial in the 80’s and his now famous line, “I learned it by watching you!” Yes, I looked in the mirror and saw that lame-brain dad looking back at me. No, my kids haven’t learned how to smoke pot, but they have picked up some other nasty habits from me along the way. Years of observation tend to have that effect.

Here is the revelation I had in that moment. When I’m at work, church, or anywhere other than home, I am just like my children at our dinner party. Politeness, kindness, and a warm personality rule the day. It’s what I do and it’s who I am. That is, until I get home. Usually it is then when the guards come down. Politeness transforms into impatience, kindness to arrogance, and my personable self becomes irritable and edgy. It may look slightly different than what happens to my young children when they are fighting over toys or space, but the heart of the matter remains exactly the same. Selfishness.

Why do I do this? Why am I two people? Is one side of me any more real than the other? I don’t think so, but the fact is that I’m weak. We all are. For some reason (probably because we fear repercussions of acting certain ways in public) we tend to get careless around those we love the most.

So what I am I to do? Should I just throw my hands up and resign myself to the idea this is just the way we are going to operate. The sirens will keep blaring from all of us at home, but at least we’ll all be well-behaved in public!

I really don’t think we need to be resigned to anything like that! May this illustration simply serve as a reminder and an inspiration. If I can clean myself up to venture into the public square, can’t I at least try to do the same at home? After all, that’s where the people live who matter most to me. They are my life and my love. It’s the very least I can do. Will I be perfect? No. Like I said before, I’m weak and so are you, but I can at least make an effort. Keep the guards up a little while longer. May I take thoughts captive rather spewing them instantaneously. Let us employ the Golden Rule. Others before ourselves. Simple as that.

While changing my attitude and behavior will definitely guarantee nothing, I think it may increase the probability of some things. Family dinner and after-dinner parties might actually both be pleasant, our sirens may be a little less blaring, and I may actually want my children to say, “I learned it by watching you!”



The Beginning
About Damien Drago

I am a husband to a better woman than I deserve and the father of five incredible blessings. I've been a 5th grade teacher for twelve years and also seek to educate young people through music and songwriting. I currently have one album of "RockinThruHistory" music published and another in the works. I also perform anywhere someone will let me on a stage.

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