I think I'm going to put this anonymous note in our neighbor's mailbox this week:
Dear Dad at the End of Our Street,
Almost every time I pass your house in the evening you are playing outside with your kids. Shooting some hoops, playing street hockey, or doing yard work while they play near by. It warms my heart. My husband and I think you are incredibly awesome. If there were more dads like you in the world, the world would be a better place. Thanks for the example you set for everyone in our neighborhood. Thanks for being the kind of father every kid deserves.
During the five years I taught high school English, I met a lot of kids with great fathers. I met a lot of kids with not so great fathers. I met a lot of kids who didn't know who their father was. I met some kids who knew who their father was, but wished they didn't.
I remember a tearful encounter with one sophomore boy who had gone from an energetic, focused hard worker to a lackadaisical, cynical body taking up space in a row of my classroom. I kept him after class, questioning his behavior and telling him how much I missed the "old him." He opened up to me, revealing that his father had recently gotten out of prison, and my fifteen year old student had hoped he would be able to develop a relationship with this man he did not know. Sadly, his father had chosen to return to the same lifestyle that had landed him in prison to begin with--associating with the same friends and participating in the same kinds of activities that would likely land him in jail yet again. He didn't have time for his 15 year old son. My heart broke for this lanky sophomore boy who I had come to love in the few months I had been his teacher. The tears shed that day were not just by him.
I grew up with an exceptional father and had a lot of exceptional pseudo-fathers around me: uncles, friends, and other family. When I became a teacher, I quickly realized I'd led a pretty sheltered existence. I suddenly realized that my life experience wasn't the norm.
How important is the role of a father? Of a man? In our world today, I'd say more important than ever.
The more I think about this little baby boy growing inside of me, the more grateful I become that we're having another little boy who will grow up with an amazing daddy. I am so thankful that my sons will be raised by a father who loves them and takes the time to be their dad. To teach them how to be gentlemen in a world that is sometimes crass and unrefined. To teach them to honor women and treat them with respect. The world needs more good men, and I want my sons to be some of them.
I think there's a whole generation to follow that will be pretty thankful for that, too.
I'm so thankful for the chance I have to help shape their world as their mommy. To be their teacher and their friend every day.
Alien-esque baby, sucking his thumb at 18 weeks and 2 days:
Kaden, on our recent outing to Pullen Park:
Suddenly, the boat seemed scary:
And scarier, as it was further away from Mommy:
Happily removed from the ride early:
I pray every night that we can be the kind of parents who will guide our children to become strong men.