Life Lessons From My Son

This week’s excellent contribution comes from High5 trainer-in-training, Dominic Oaxaca!

When my wife and I decided to start a family, I had dreams of how that would look. I would teach my son how to play baseball and football, and he would be a Dodger and a Rams fan. I would teach him all the important things about these sports like strategy, sportsmanship and the unwritten rules of ethics and respect.

I was brimming with pride the day my son, Caleb, was born! On December 22, 1999, I began to understand the phrases “the birth of my son was the greatest day of my life” and “having kids changed my life for the better”. I was 32 years old, and I felt ready for exactly how everything would turn out.

I entered my son into football at age 6 and baseball at age 7. Although I was eager to show my son all that I knew, he didn’t show much interest. I convinced myself that he was a little too young to understand the importance, and, in time, he would appreciate what sports have to offer. By the time my son was 10, he was not playing either sport.

Instead of being the sports enthusiast I wanted, Caleb expressed interest in acting in a play. My wife contacted a local theater company, and soon my son was involved in their annual summer production. Although my wife and I supported the program and enjoyed the performances, I felt like I had nothing to offer him in terms of advice and experience.

After attending a leadership program in 2012, I shared with my family, the importance of living outside our comfort zone. Three short months later, I was asked to act in a play with my son. My first reaction was negative. My son then told me that it was perfect because it was outside my comfort zone. I reluctantly agreed. Although I was very uncomfortable, I did not want to disappoint my son. Despite my involvement in the play, it was not a total disaster. I admit I had fun, and I will always cherish the time I was able to spend with my son.

Two years later, in his freshman year of high school, my son joined the water polo team. I don’t have any experience in water polo, and neither did he. However, I was excited at the prospect of my son competing in sports! I was unable to attend one of his first matches because of work. I was anxious about the outcome, and looking forward to the stories of the game. Interestingly, I was not surprised to learn that my son did not know the name of the opposing school or have any idea about the final score. He would say “I think we won. I’m not sure.” When I did attend the games, I was proud of the support my son provided to the team when he was not playing. He truly celebrated his teammates’ accomplishments more than his own.

For the past two years my son has been involved in the marching band. He surprised me when he joined the band his junior year because I, mistakenly, thought that one needed to know how to play an instrument to be in the band. He informed me that he would learn how to play the bass drum in a matter of weeks. This year (senior year), he decided to branch out to the jazz band, and this time he would learn to play the tuba. I would definitely say that he lives outside of his comfort zone yet I’ve never seen him uncomfortable.

This past weekend I was planning to go to the Dodgers game in Los Angeles because they are in the NLCS playoffs. My wife informed me that Caleb had a jazz competition at 1:30 in Sacramento. I thought, “No problem. I’ll compromise.”  I decided to go to the competition and watch the game on TV at 6 pm. My wife then informed me that the marching band segment of the competition started at 6:30pm. I told her that I was going to have to miss that one-no time. However, when I attended the jazz competition, I found out that Caleb was a solo vocalist for their presentation.

I am so grateful that I chose to attend both competitions rather than go to the baseball game because, ultimately, I got to enjoy my son’s performances in two separate areas. Also, I know that it was important to my son, and that makes it important to me.

Today, I’m celebrating my 50th birthday, and I am eternally grateful for my son’s consideration, generosity and selflessness as well as the courage he regularly displays.

It’s turning out like I had planned all along.

My son is teaching me all the important things in life. – Dominic Oaxaca