We’ve just spent an amazing weekend on the shores of Capitola, CA. It’s a really great, quiet, little beach town in Santa Cruz County.

We made a full weekend of it. On Saturday, we swung by the Monterey Bay aquarium. While we were there, I heard a mother screaming at her child about the value of a bottle of soda, and why she asked for it if she wasn’t going to drink it. It was a horribly adult conversation, and the 8-year old had no idea how to react. There was no framework for the kid to understand a budget, the value of a dollar, or even why they shouldn’t consume frivolously. There was just a mom yelling at her daughter.

It was just a horrible experience for everyone involved. The mother and the daughter yelling at each other. The two friends who were awkwardly stuck at the table. And me for eavesdropping, wishing I hadn’t, and then not being able to break away to see how it all ended.

It made me mentally note to never have that fight with my kids.

From there, we made our way back up to Capitola to check-in to our little beach house. Our next door neighbors were having a massive 35-person birthday party, and it was quite fun to watch all the kids run around. You notice kids, and their behavior, a lot more after having kids.

I kept thinking to myself, holy shit how do I prevent Amelia and #2 from being like that one over there? Or, wow, that girl is so kind, I wonder how to make sure my kids are kind? The one I kept coming back to that proves I’m officially an old man is, there’s no way in hell she’s ever wearing anything that looks like that!

I’m not great at a lot of things, but I will give myself credit as a strong pattern matcher and observer. I’ve learned the value of listening over the years, and have found that a large part of the equation of being a strong listener is being strong with your eyes as well. With all of that said, I still can’t find the pattern that distinguishes the girl getting yelled at for buying a soda she wouldn’t drink, and the kind girl on the beach who helped her sister/cousin when she bumped her head.

I think it’s going to take a lot more pattern matching before I can figure this one out :-/

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