Thanks Nithos....I never thought I was much for kids and family life, myself...figured myself for the "party hard, burnout harder, end up being harvested for organs by 35 or 40" type. Turned out I was just hanging with the wrong women...hooked up with my wife (second attempt at marriage...she took the time to put me back together after the first, and wouldn't accept any proposals until after our second was born, just to make sure I wasn't using her as a "security blanket" [and also assured me that if she decided I wasn't the right "daddy" for the two I'd fathered, it wouldn't slow her down any, she was quite capable of handling them AND herself, anytime she or I chose to go another way, and IF that was the choice either made, she wouldn't WANT me involved in any way..."It'd be worth having all the financial responsibility in order to not have to deal with someone I can't live with", in her words])
Next thing I knew, they were annoying me by drooling, pooping, and peeing on everything, then grabbing everything they could crawl to, pull themselves up, and reach, then grabbing anything they could climb to (and an 18 month old can find ways to climb on top of a full sized refridgerator, or into cabinets ADULTS have issues getting things down from, quite easily), and THEN, suddenly, first one, then the next, then the third were ready to start being truly "interesting" to Daddy, beyond the fun of eliciting baby smiles and giggles, and amazing myself at how much mess they could make, and how much they'd eat, when I dished them out "adult food", once their tummies could handle it (my eldest had homemade lasagna for his first "real food" meal, and ate three times as much as I did, painting himself and his blanky bright red all over in the process...I laid him on the blanket on a linoleum floor, put a plate in front of him with a quarter serving, and let him go at it with both fists, re-serving upon demand....the next day's morning diaper was terrifying).
Now they're at the age where they are "little people" each with a distinct, though forming personality, each with serious interests, curiosities, and talents, and each of them pick my brain daily for tidbits and in-depth knowledge here and there...the youngest has a talent for logic and language, and has already learned HTML, DHTML, and XHTML, is working on XML, Jscript, and VBscript, and will soon begin on J+ and C++ from MS VStudio.NET, under my tutaledge (I'm in school for comp sci ATM), the eldest has already built 4 PCs from my "parts pile" that ran, and learned to look up the power/usb pin connector diagrams from manufacturer sites, though he needs his brother to install the software for him, most often, and has also taken the AC Delco stock radio we pulled from our newest car, wired it into a bastardized computer 12v power source, wired in speakers, and ended up[ with a 6 CD AM/FM cassette boom box in a homemade case with built-in clock and 6X6 presets on the tuner (with much help from dad, and a couple specialty ordered parts from Best Buy's installer guys, but he did MOST of the work, all of the soldering [cold solder gun/system], and so on), and the daughter is interested in all things animal and wildlife...the boys' main interest in wildlife seems to be "How do we track it? How do we kill it? Does it taste good enough to be woth the trouble if we do the first two?", and camping/forresting survival lore, but the princess wants to know how to do EVERYTHING camping, from basest roughing it to how to choose best equipment for given circumstances, and how to evaluate circumstances, and how to research EVERYTHING about local wildlife...then she spends evgery outing (be it camping, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, or a walk through the prepared trails in the state parks) doing a passable job of tracking and identifying tracks and spoor, and "hunting" with a cheapie digital camera.
These aren't unusually bright kids (well...the youngest is...they're already eying him for the A.P. program out here)...the eldest is having issues with reading to level and following written directions, but due to the fostering they get at home, they each have picked up on these areas of interest, and gottten quite "advanced" for their ages, two are into music, all three are into tae kwon do, one's doing scouting, and I've coached all three up to some basic pre-algebraic math skills (because I don't understand how to do the maths on their homework the way the teachers want it done, currently, so I slowly and painstakingly show them alternate routes to arrive at the answers they need and then run checks...this way, they end up covering all information the teachers want to see).
The more I deal with my smalls (and watch them, compared to their classmates, something I get to do plenty of, and often spend half a day here and there being a "parent helper" in a classroom), the more I realize that, at this age, we REALLY tend to underestimate kids, and what they are capable of learning and applying, on a regular basis...what they DO learn and apply on a regular basis, if supervised properly (mine are only allowed 30 minutes of "cartoon network" a day, all other TV in the house is TLC, THC, Disc, and PBS, unless I'm watching Simpson's re-runs or Law and Order shows (which means I've run out of books I want to re-read at the moment, and haven't yet raided the used book stores again).
I think, Nithos, if we were ever to run into eachother at a con or ren style event, or the like, you'd find yourself suprised at how easy it can be to get along with kids who've spent most of their life being treated as if they are "little adults" who simply owe some "extra respect" to their elders due strictly to the presumption that experience==greater access to information. Such an experience might just turn you into a "family man", after all <grin> (And I'm not saying I skimp on their discipline...that's part of the whole "respect" thing I drive into them, sometimes...even often...as harshly as a Marine D.I., they've been repeatedly told "being treated as an equal means you're expected to behave as such, including showing the proper behavior and responsibility...there are times to "be kids", and times to act like the adults around you...watch, and learn when to do which"...years of this platitude have begun to work well).