Forty Years Later, I’m Developing the Discipline My Teenage Displays

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When I was 12 years old I had a paper route. It was the morning paper, and the goal was to have it on my customers’ doorsteps by 7 am and to do so, I had to be up at 6 am. My route took exactly 1 hour.

For the first little while I was good in generally, weather permitting, succeeding in this goal.

As time went by, my natural inclination to sleep in went to war with my desire to get my papers delivered on time.

My wake up time slowly shifted forwards from 6 am as far as 6:30, meaning I delivered my last paper at 7:30.

I actually had 3 routes, and the final one was for businesses. None of them were open by 7:30, so I didn’t get any complaints about my tardiness. Getting the papers delivered on time was only about discipline.

Which I lacked, and still lack.

It is only now, in my final act, because I have things to do, and high ambitions, that I have been able to maintain a 6:15 rise for the grand total of 3 weeks. So far.

Last night, kid 1 came down to do his last piano practice. He asked me to keep an eye out so he didn’t cheat on his practice time.

I asked about his phone, which he’s not allowed access to between school and the completion of his afternoon “requireds.” Homework, dinner, piano, shower, etc.

He reminded me his phone was put away.

“You can use it for the timer, you have my permission.”

“No dad, I’d be too tempted, and end up fiddling with it instead of practicing.”

He’s a great kid, bright, accomplished, an good son and terrific friend, but I’ve never been prouder of him in his life. 

He has, at 15, more discipline to delay gratification and avoid temptation, than I have at 55.


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