My four kids have turned out OK. They have their strengths, their weaknesses, their quirks. They are at times hilarious, kindhearted, mean-spirited or just weird. They are always loved, even when they are temporarily hated.
But there are attitudes and behaviors they do not have that I wish they had acquired. Unfortunately, now that they are all teenagers, with one out of the house and two planning their departure, it is too late to make adjustments. So all I have is regrets.
These are not game-changing behaviors. Their lives are not going to be greatly affected in one way or another because they do not have these skills or the desire to acquire them. It's more of an irritant to me that they have lived this long without acquiring these behaviors.
I wish my kids would walk more quietly -- When I was a kid, I was a big fan of the television show "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." It was a spy show, and I wanted to be Illya Kuryakin, the Russian played by David McCallum. I had no interest in being Napoleon Solo.
In order to be a good spy, one had to be able to sneak around. So I taught myself how to walk softly. It's not that difficult, and it is key to being a good spy. I wasn't really up to anything; I wasn't stealing or trying to get away with unwarranted behavior, I just liked being able to walk past my parents' bedroom without them hearing me.
As an adult, you learn to walk quietly so that the babies can sleep. Today, I walk quietly to allow my wife, Janice, to get her sleep, because she works very hard and needs to be able to rest. In our current home, I know which step on our stairs going to the upper floor creaks the most (Step No. 9) and I know that if you step on the right side, it makes much less noise.
My kids do not care to ever walk softly. They stomp everywhere. Even when they are trying to be quiet so that siblings or mom can sleep, or Janice and I are on work-related phone calls, they stomp. None of my kids are unusually large or heavy, but to hear them go up and down the stairs, you would think they were an army. They simply are incapable of sneaking around. (And I will bet some parents would consider that a good thing.)
I wish my kids had a sense of urgency -- I think it is great that my children, for the most part, live an unhurried life. They take their sweet time doing everything. There is no timetable for them at home. They will get around to it ("I promise") in due time. They regularly tell me to chill, although they don't use that word.
I'm sorry, but there are times when time is of the essence. There are deadlines. There are times when there is much to do and not so much time to do it. There are times when tasks need to be done NOW. But, unless it is something they want to do or have done, there is no clock on their lives. I don't think it is a matter of being lazy. It's the thought that they will do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. They get to decide when that is, and it's not now.
I wish my kids made sense -- They wake up tired, but they won't go to bed early. I don't get that.
The boys want more or different clothes, but they won't go shopping. I don't get that.
I wish my kids weren't so afraid of bugs -- Dan is actually OK in this area, but the other three absolutely freak out over every spider or ant they see in the house. It's infrequent, and it is easily dealt with, but it is an absolute emergency every time something crawly this way comes. When you run into Lindsey, ask her how her bedroom ceiling light broke.
I wish my kids appreciated what they have -- OK, I'm guessing that is sort of universal. But that doesn't stop me from wishing it.
And maybe I should listen to myself and not be so concerned about how noisy my kids are, or how they feel about spiders. Because someday, there won't be any noise, or anyone around to tell me about the spider.
• Kent McDill is a freelance writer. He and his wife, Janice, have four children, Haley, Dan, Lindsey and Kyle.