Saturday, December 31, 2005

Fathers, part 1

Three things happened to me today that made me stop and think about what it means to be a father.

The first is something my sons' friend said. Four of us were all carrying some fairly expensive terrarium supplies into the house. Wes had an expensive UV light in his hand. Being a dad, of course, I said, "Be careful with that." (This, I will point out, is something I've always hated someone to say to me and usually I will respond with some un-Christ-like sarcasm such as, "Oh, you foiled my evil plain to ruin this expensive item!") Anyway, not halfway to our destination, Wes dropped the light. He tried to stop its fall by grabbing onto the cord, but the light hit the concrete. I was certain that the UV bulb inside must have been damaged. I came down pretty hard on him, "I told you," and "Oh, great," good huffs, and so forth. Since Max and their mutual friend were standing by, I could only imagine how Wes felt to get the "I told you so" from the old man. Without losing his stride, he responded, "It's not broke!" "It is too," I quickly shot back. For good measure I through in: "It's going to cost a pretty penny to replace too." Well, we got up to the room and I plugged in the light. It shone in all its blueness. Perfectly fine! I felt like an ass. Without missing a beat, I said, "Wes, you were right. It wasn't broken. I am sorry son." Here's the part that gave me pause. My boys' friend immediately says, "Wow! That's something my dad would never say to me." In all seriousness, I was thinking, "Oh, he wouldn't be such a jerk and let you have it about dropping the light which was an accident in the first place? He wouldn't belittle you?" But, I wasn't sure so I asked, "What wouldn't he say?" The boy looked at me and says, "He wouldn't say sorry and you were right." All I could come up with was the truth: "It's not something my dads ever said to me either." You know what? Sometimes "I'm sorry" and "I was wrong" is the best thing I've got going for me at the end of the day. Pretty sad, hey?

The second thing that made me think about being a father is that I was driving a junior high student home and we got to talking about something we are both experts on: split homes. Just trying to get to know an incredible kid a bit more, I was asking if she liked visiting her father. She said she did. The amazing thing is that she previously told me all the things wrong with her father, not in a nagging way mind you, just telling me the realities. Her details made me think though, "Maybe this guy isn't the greatest?" So, I asked, "Why do you like to go there for the summer then?" Before she answered I added, "Is it just for the break?" She replied, "It's not really a break at all. He makes me clean a lot." I even found out that her half-sister is "like three times the pain" that her sister at home is. "So, why do you like to visit?" I asked again. The answer? "Just to spend time with my dad I guess." Kids are pretty forgiving. Made me think, "I can relate." To tell you the truth, I'd like to spend some crappy time with my dad too.

Third, I walk in the house at midnight. All is quiet. I'm making my way through the dark house and I go to the fridge and I notice some things on the counter that look like letters or envelopes. First thing I am thinking is, "Oh, no, something bad happened and Chrisy is leaving me a note." But, I get closer and they're notes from my boys and my wife. Wes had picked out all the yellow and orange Starbursts from his pack that apparently Chrisy had bought him for a treat. His note read: "To the best dad ever, from Wes. I know you like yellow and I think orange." Max had some Reese's cups there and wrote: "To the best dad in the world from Max. I love you!" Chrisy put one there too for good measure, "I love you too!" it read. I'm not ashamed to tell you that I wept, praying through my tears, "God, thank you for making me a father." Best dad ever? Kids are pretty forgiving aren't they?

Yellow Starbursts are my favorite. Yea Wes, orange are a close second. Favorite all-time candy bar? Reese's by far. Favorite three words: "I love you."

To be continued.

Read Fathers, part 2 here.

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Blogger Tony said...

Great post Doah! You know what? It's like I have said to you in the past....we screw up as Dads/Husband, but at least we are aware of how much of an ass we can be and are willing to own up to it. Wes will grow up knowing he has a Dad who is not-perfect, like himself, who loves him so much that he will be asked to give his Dad forgiveness. He will cherish that when he is a Dad himself. Dig you bro! -Tony

1:55 PM  
Blogger Jon Hall said...

It's about time you started this thing. You got a great way with words Doah. Glad to see you dive in. And I appreciate your authenticity. You take the mask off better than just about anyone I know.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Mike Pena said...

This was an amazing post. Your kids are lucky to have a dad who owns up to his errors and apologizes. That is, sadly, a rare thing.

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