My wife and I are about six weeks away from welcoming our son into the world. As you might imagine, this is one of the more exciting times in our lives. We are both anxious and hopeful in these final weeks, very aware of what a blessed time this is for us.
Not surprisingly, my mind will often wander to thoughts of my son and the world into which he will emerge. Some of those thoughts are serious and concerned, such as worries about climate change affecting the world he will come to know. Others are more lighthearted, frequently bringing a smile to my face.
The most recent smile came from musing about a commercial that my son may never see. Remember that classic Tootsie Roll commercial, the one where the cartoon boy asks various animals how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? You know, this commercial (I guess with the availability of Youtube, there actually is a decent chance my son will see it).
Ever since I saw that as a child, I would periodically quote the owl by counting to three just as he did: “a-one, a-two, a-three.” Even to this day, when feeling particularly silly and needing to count to three, I might say it. It’s funny how certain quotes and lines can stay with us for decades on end.
They can get passed down from our parents and grandparents as well. I remember Ray often saying “There is no ‘away’” when talking about the challenge of waste and our throw-away society. Since then, I’ve heard both my aunt and mother use the same phrase multiple times. I’ve used it as well, and I probably will for decades more.
Ray was also fond of “By God, what if everyone did it?” and “Brighten the corner where you are.” You’ll hear my family and me use those lines frequently as well. Not only is there truth in the words, but we honor and remember Ray when we use them.
It’s not just in our words, however, that we offer an example to others. Our actions do so as well, and often with greater impact. It’s why I’ve always been fond of the “talk the talk and walk the walk” cliché. Which brings me back to my son.
My wife and I will be his first teachers and will have front row seats in watching him grow up. I imagine that is one of the great joys of parenting. But he won’t just be learning from us when we are trying to teach a lesson. He can listen to everything we say and watch everything we do, even when we don’t think he is paying attention. That’s why we have to be good examples, as environmentalists and otherwise, as often as we can.
And who knows? Maybe someday he’ll teach his child that there is no “away” and how to count to three like a silly owl.