Websites and blogs that are theme specific such as Thank Heaven for Beer can often come across as abstract, in the sense that they appear separated from reality. Day after day articles are posted, pictures go up, and comments are exchanged, all with a singular topic in mind; but how often are the personal lives of the interlocutors considered?
I intentionally try to keep my article somewhat ambiguous to my personal life. It seems that our society is increasingly shunning privacy. We’ve gone from the snail mail standard, to the email standard, to watching your friends’ marriage implode on FaceBook status updates. While this is cultural shift bugs me from time to time, it does not keep me from participating in such socially integrated sites, I just do so in moderation, just as I do in beer.
This week as I was catching up on some unread articles over at Seen Through A Glass, Lew Bryson’s Beer Blog, I found myself choking up as I read through a very well written and seemingly non-beer related article, Growing Up, in which Lew reminisced over fathering his son, now a senior in high school. The well written piece made me a even bigger fan of Lew’s site, as it made clear that he 1) was an involved and loving father, and 2) family took priority over beer; and that’s the way it should be.
Lew apologized at the end of the article for the non-beer related content, but to me, no apology was necessary. If a man keeps his priorities straight, that is beer does not trump family, than in my mind such a rambling is a part of the story of beer in the sense that the all circumstances of a man’s life impact his hobbies and even writing style.
Further, while beer–and alcohol in general–is considered (for legitimate reasons, unfortunately) to be destructive to the nuclear family, it can be the complete opposite. How many times have you bonded over a beer with a loved one? Or consider some of the longstanding breweries in Europe that have been handed down from father to son for centuries.
Shortly after reading Lew’s article, my dear seven year old son handed me a folded up piece of paper that inspired this post alongside Lew’s post. For your viewing pleasure and as an outpouring of fatherly pride, I scanned the paper that showcases Malachi’s burgeoning understanding of English grammar and his love for his pops and time we spend together.
I don’t think I have ever brewed a batch of beer without the assistance of Malachi. In fact, the other day my sister was visiting while I was brewing beer. Malachi called from the living room, “Dad! Are you ready for me to help sparge?” Confused, my sister asked, “What’s sparging?” Malachi answered her question not mine.
Malachi is growing up fast. As I read Lew’s article and realized I had better pay closer attention and store the memories of his journey. It saddens me as I see his teeth fall out (but it saddens his mother more!) and see realize benchmarks of growing up are passing rapidly, but it thrills me that we can share a passion. He is an awesome young man, with a big heart, and as a father, I couldn’t be prouder.
The more memories I can make with my children the better. I don’t want to force any of my hobbies or preferences upon them, but when they organically match up between us so that we can enjoy them together, it makes for one awesome bond and plenty of great memories.
I know I’ve written before about brewing with my son…thanks for letting me show off my son!
Malachi to Dad
It is fun brewing beer together
We have fun
And we can have fun!!!
Great article Nate. It must be great seeing your kids become interested in things you enjoy just out of no where. I feel like a lot of that happened with me and my dad. I became interested in baseball because of him watching it and collecting cards. I can only hope for the same when I have young ones someday.
Typically, I brew after the kids go to bed. Brew nights are somewhat communal, since several fellas from the neighborhood gather and craft some fine beer together (several simultaneous batches). However, I get a similar sense of pride from my son, age 6 1/2 and one of my daughters (age 3) when they ask for a sip of my beer. I always ask them their opinion, and I tend to get positive reviews. My son’s reviews are growing in complexity, which is interesting to listen to. I beam with pride because they are showing a shared interest, even if it years before they can enjoy it like me.
I dunno, sometimes I wonder what others think about my children discussing their like for beer. But I know that I am teaching them respect and moderation based on the example they see at home.
Good stuff, Nate… good stuff.
Please spend as much time as you can with your kids. I cannot emphasize this enough. As a product of divorced parents, I can tell you that the few memories that I have with my Dad are precious. Kids grow up way too fast — my greatest fear as a parent is that I am not spending enough time with them.
Those handwritten notes from your kids are precious. My wife accuses me of being a “pack rat” for saving most of our kid’s early drawings, but so be it. I just love them.
And I love that we can discuss this type of topic on a “beer blog.” That’s why you guys stand out in the beer blog world.
Cool article. My daughter is five, so I can relate to everything you said, other than I don’t brew. My kid likes the labels and corks, but that’s as far as her interests go. When I saw the letter, I couldn’t help but think of some of the possible outcomes if your son had wrote that note at school. My kid likes to announce at places like the dentist’s office that “my daddy loves beer!” It’s unfortunate that many people draw a negative conclusion from a statement like that.
Great post Nate. I too try to keep my personal life apart from what I write online, I know it goes against the prevailing ‘wisdom 2.0′, but I guess I’m old-fashioned that way. Anyway, you’re a lucky man to have that opportunity, and not only is it awesome for you, but the memories and lessons your kids will have with them for their lifetime are priceless as well. The world needs more Dads like you.
Like the 5 previous posts, great post. Family comes first, if it didn’t I’d be all over the place, every beer dinner, tasting, bar/event I could find. Like your experience, Nate, My oldest Daughter (7) always asks if she can help brew and is usually disappointing when I tell her I’m brewing after she goes to bed. Granted I rather brew in the Day, but that is 6 hours of weekend family time gone if I do.
Howard, you make a good point, but I’ve heard kids say far worse about their parents. I suppose as parents we just have to know we are doing our best to set a good example when it comes to alcohol and our children (which is another conversation)
Wow! All these kids and beer stories. I almost want to tell Andrea that we should get started. I can’t speak intelligently about kids and brewing (this might be a cool club) but I hope our children will be interested. For now, I’m just happy that my little brother has started brewing at home.
Mike, I don’t know your family situation, but parenthood is something I highly recommend. Fatherhood is great, and what you see here in our collective experiences is just the tip of the iceberg. Cheers!
We are planning to about 3 years out.
That is great. Can’t wait until my daughter grows up.
… actually, yes. Yes, I can wait.
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While I’m not yet a father, I can certainly appreciate the message behind this post. I also read Bryson’s post (just found his blog recently), and was touched by it. Personally, I enjoy reading beer blogs that aren’t just about beer.
And Big Tex, I’m cracking up at the thought of your six-year-old providing a more insightful beer review than most of the masses. Sounds like you are going to have a couple of bonafide beer advocates on your hands.
Thanks for stopping by, Daniel. It looks like you just got a site going. I stopped by just to take a look. Hope to see you here again.
@MLB Thanks! It is rewarding. It’s good your learning to brew now. I actually followed that order to (learn to brew, then kids)
@BigTex Awesome. Teach ‘em while their young! It’s also good that your kids are learning aspects of communal fellowship watching you brew.
@Scott (manland) , thanks! Wise words friends! I actually have a file folder at my desk at work where I stash the kids’ little drawings and notes, as well as a few notes from my wife that I pull out on bad days. Thanks for the kind words about the blog!
@SimplyBeer Thanks again!
@Brad I hear ya! We are so anxious to see what they’ll become, but yes we can wait! I get sad just remembering my seven year old when he was learning how to crawl.
@Mike Three years out huh? It will get here sooner than you think. That means within ten years we can have father son day at the brewery, right?
@howard My wife and I actually discussed exactly that concern…that is, if my son had wrote that note at school. It’s crazy how scrutinized parents are (at least at the public school my boy attends).
@scott (the brew club) thanks! I am lucky! I echo your old fashioned-ness. There’s nothing wrong with a love for privacy!
@Simply Beer: Your oldest is seven too, huh? If we ever manage to connect it looks like our kids will be able to play together. It’s cool she likes brewing. Future pink boots society member???
@Daniel Thanks for stopping by. I’ll look forward to seeing the content of your site. I’m with you on Lew’s site. He’s good. Your observation (that you like beer blogs that stray from beer a bit) is duly noted!
@Nate- RE pink boots society – a Dad can Dream
[...] educational fun. I got to engage my kids in an activity I enjoy immensely. And I can relate to Nate @ THFB and his experience with his son just a little bit more [...]