Text: Pauli Määttä
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
My son poured out his mind: ”You never gave me a proper model of man. You cannot fix cars. You cannot build houses. You do not hunt, and you do not even have a snowmobile.” I tried to defend myself: ”But you know, I have written a couple of poems.” I had considered myself a moderately good father. My biggest concern had been my minimal contribution to household work. I had to travel for work, and I had been elected to some positions of trust, so the responsibility for the home often fell on my wife.
Recently, however, my son and I have been learning things together. Our relationship has been that of a master and an apprentice, with myself as the apprentice. At the house building site I have been carrying boards or taking measures. I have sometimes also been asked to keep a spanner in place at a critical point of fixing a car. Fortunately, no-one has asked me to come along on a hunting trip, but surprisingly, we have found big lumps of moose meat in our freezer. And I have been told our sons and sons-in-law have a Lynx club of their own.
I discussed the topic of snowmobile with my sons for several years. My delaying action was successful when I pointed out that I needed to use snowmobile at work and therefore did not feel like getting one for my free time as well. To tell the truth, I only drove the snowmobile twice at work.
The father–son relationship changes as both grow older. At one stage the son looks up to his father as a hero who can do everything and is best in everything. I do not know if other fathers have tried to prop up their hero status. I told my children that was pretty good in sports. Running the marathon, I would probably cross the finish line one day after the winner. But in the 10 000-meter race, that difference would be only an hour. And best of all, in the 100-meter race, I would only be 10 seconds behind the winner. And talking about field sports, I would be 4 meters behind the best pole vaulter, but only 1 meter behind the high jump champion. I hope my kids did not brag about these achievements too much when talking to their friends, and not at least to their teachers.
For years I played floorball with my children. But not any more. One Christmas Eve, we decided to have a family game on the nearby school field. In the heat of the game I bumped into my son and we both fell. He continued the game. I went to a doctor and had an x-ray. They put my arm in splints for a few weeks. My son once asked me to come along for a game because one of the regulars could not come. I rushed around the field as best I could, but the feedback was not flattering. “I wouldn’t have guessed that you are such a bad player.” He has not asked me to play again, but luckily, I have been accepted to play volleyball with Sulo (88 yr.) and Oiva (85 yr.).
After the hero stage in the father’s career, the children grow into teen age and distance themselves from their father. Mark Twain described this situation 180 years ago: ”When I was 14 years old, my father was so ignorant that I hardly tolerated the old man’s presence. When I turned 21, I was surprised to find how much he had learnt in seven years.” If you somehow manage through the teenage breakaway, your children will come back. There will be a new relationship between two adults.
Throughout human history, fathers have been away from home a lot. Hunter-gatherers needed to make long foraging and hunting trips. Agriculture required men to spend a lot of time on the fields. Lumber camps provided extra income but required absence from home for months at a time. Not to mention the war time. The father–son relationship became closer when the son was old enough to help his father at work. From our point of view, boys in the old times reached that age quite early. Many men were traumatized by the horrors of the war, and there was hardly any therapy or other support available. The relationship between the father and his children could be distant or even tinged with fear.
The father–son relationship has been an intriguing topic at all times. The most important relationship is that between the heavenly Father and the Son, of which we hear at services, and which is the foundation of our faith. Even the Bible tells us about difficult father–son relationships. For instance, Absalom did not approve of his father’s actions and recruited an army to fight against him. That did not end up well, as we can read in the Bible.
What kind of a model would I like to give to my sons? The most important thing is faith. Services and other events are important, and we should attend whenever possible. I also hope I will leave a model of being positive and even curious about things. I hope my model further includes willingness to participate in projects serving the common good whenever one is asked to take on such duties.
There has been a lot of discussion about the division of tasks within the family. It is a new thing that men of my age are expected to participate actively in daily family life. When my father was my age, he just watched his children play. He said he only once ever changed a diaper and even then did it the wrong way round. My mother was mostly responsible for the home and the housework. There was only one domestic thing that my father did: he roasted on open fire the squeaky cheese made of cow’s milk. My father and mother took care of the cattle together, and father was responsible for all things done outside the house.
The division of domestic chores can vary greatly. The main thing is that all members of the family feel happy and secure at home. It is also good to have interests and hobbies. There are many possibilities: hunting, fishing, hiking, games, gardening… In the best case, the father and the sons, and possibly the whole family, share the same interest or hobby.
Vanhustenviikon teemana on tänä vuonna ”Yhdessä luontoon – joka iän oikeus”. Viikon mittaan luontoteemaan syvennytään erilaisista näkökulmista, kuten lähiluonto ja ulkoilu. Esillä on myös muita tärkeitä teemoja ravitsemuksesta kulttuurin merkitykseen. Monen aiheen kohdalla herää kysymys, miten nämä asiat tällä hetkellä toteutuvat ikäihmisten elämässä.
Ekaluokkalaisen Liinun syksyyn mahtuu niin iloja kuin suruja. Kutkuttavaa jännitystä tuo salapoliisitehtävä tädin ja isoveljen kanssa.
Tämän vuoden ajankohtaiskirjassa käsitellään omakohtaista uskoa ja sen vaikutuksia ihmisen elämään ja toimintaan.
Miten selvitä, jos tulee satutetuksi ja jätetyksi?
Voiko seurustelu alkaa ihan noin vain, yllättäen?
Entä mitä tapahtuu siinä välissä?
Kiinnostava matkakertomus seurojen järjestämisestä ja uskovaisten elämästä Afrikassa.
Jännittävä hevoskirja herättelee pohtimaan, minkä varaan elämää kannattaa rakentaa.