House projects are not our favorite.
My husband and I know our limits, and we are not handy people. But if something takes more sweat equity than skill, we might be willing to try our hand at it.
Last Sunday, Trent piled the boys in our van and made a trip to Ace Hardware. He got all of the necessary supplies to take a shot at staining our back deck.
Nearly five hours later, he was covered in sweat and wood stain, and it looked like he still had about another five hours to go.
Our three sons had been asking to get outside and help their dad since before their nap, and after five hours, I think Trent was willing to accept help in any way, shape or form. Even if that form looked like a 3-year-old.
My boys couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Almost two hours of drips and spills and a few decent brush strokes later, the deck was finished. Not perfect, but done.
Each night at dinner, my sons share one thing they’re thankful for from the day. It’s typically the best part of their day. A highlight. Trent and I laughed at how their highlight was his lowlight — painting the deck.
But it wasn’t surprising. My boys want to do whatever their dad is doing, even if it means chores. If Trent’s cutting the grass, they’ll want to, too. Trent’s pulling the weeds or cleaning the car or sweeping out the utility room in the basement, and they’ll want to, too.
As I watched my three sons standing next to their dad and attempting to stain our deck the same way he was, it reminded me of the truth that more is caught than taught.
It’s the reason my boys love to watch the NBA playoffs.
And why they can’t wait to drink coffee.
And why they created a “laptop” out of taped up paper to do their “work” at the kitchen table.
Someone they love watches the playoffs, drinks coffee and works on a laptop as well.
It makes me think twice about what I do, how I act and the things I say. I know when it’s all said and done, they will have caught from me more than I taught them.
In truth, I’m still probably not as aware of these things as I should be, and certainly not as much as I want to be.
As a parent, or just an adult in general, sometimes we only see ourselves as the role model. We’ve graduated to become the one who does all the teaching.
Sometimes we forget we are still catching things ourselves.
Just like my children, I am unknowingly influenced by what’s around me. I catch things all the time from who and what I see. I catch ideas, hopes, desires, mannerisms and attitudes.
The people I follow on social media, the company with whom I keep, the circles in which I run — none of them necessarily try to teach me. But just like I find my boys doing things in a similar fashion to their dad, I find myself often acting, aspiring, speaking or spending in a similar fashion to those influencers, friends and company.
My children don’t yet have much of a choice in who contributes to what they catch. They don’t control their schedule, their social lives or the things they get to watch. For the most part, I do. And I try to be very intentional about it.
But am I as intentional with myself?
Do I take seriously the influence it has on me what I read, look at, listen to, or with whom I choose to spend my time?
We will forever be teachers to those we influence, and we’ll likely always be catching things from those people or things which influence us. The power in adulthood is to assess whether the things we expose ourselves to are worth catching.
If I don’t want to spend money like the influencers I follow, maybe I should stop watching all of their affiliate-laden content.
If I don’t want to speak like the songs I hear, I shouldn’t listen to them.
If I don’t want to live like the people on the shows or movies I watch, maybe I should spend less time watching them.
If I don’t want to socialize in the manner or fashion my social circle does, maybe I should join another.
More is caught than taught. Be careful what you let catch you — your eyes, your ears, your attention, your heart.
Theresa Meacham’s column appears Wednesdays in The News-Gazette. She can be reached at theresam