Friday, June 15, 2012

Forty-Two Father's Days

This year I’ll celebrate my 42nd Father’s Day. Cathy, 42 has three kids of her own and Jen, who lives in Australia, will be thirty-three. And Richard (the baby) just turned 30. He's as old as I was the day he was born.

When did that happen?

Wasn’t it just yesterday we were chasing each other through the house with their mom yelling for us to “take it outside”? Didn’t we just put that final coat of paint on Richard’s pinewood derby car? And it couldn’t have been that long ago when Cathy received her high school award for sewing. She’s still a domestic diva, by the way. And didn’t Jen just floor me and her mom, announcing she was moving to the other side of the world?
Forty-two Father’s Days!
I’m old!
But since the only folks that don’t get older are sx feet under, I guess being of advanced age isn’t so bad.
I was just 18 when Cathy was born…not much more than a kid myself. Lucky for me she didn’t know what a novice dad she was getting. Lucky for me I had no idea that there was a car out there somewhere, waiting for her to turn two years old… and then cross its path.
I gained a few years that day.
I gained a few more years later, when a pickup truck broadsided Jen in her little Plymouth. But those are stories for another day....not today.
Yep, forty-two Father’s Days can include some pretty scary times.
But in between those horrors there were so many more moments of magic. Every year brought 3 birthday cakes, complete with gifts & smiles, photos of 42 Christmas’s with tree hunting, trimming (and taking down afterwards), 3 kids, each having their first day at school, each learning to ride a bike, 2 learning to water ski, 1 learning to snow ski. Three graduations and 3 grandchildren!
Three lifetimes for me to share!
How blessed am I?
Forty-two times (so far)
Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads and soon-to-be Dads out there!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Father's Day....(Seriously)

My son, bless his heart, credits me with the wisdom of Solomon, so much so that he has dubbed me “The Bruce”. For him, whatever “The Bruce” says must be the gospel. The truth of course, is that whatever insights I may have, didn’t accompany my birth certificate, but were learned from a lifetime of my mistakes. I guess the wisdom part is that over that time, I learned from my mistakes. Maybe that’s what he sees.

The irony of fatherhood is that while we are teachers to our children, we are all students of parenting. And while I didn’t get any wisdom with my birth certificate, I also didn’t get the manufacturer’s instructions that should have accompanied my children. And together my wife and I learned about the “some assembly required” aspects of building each one’s character.

We learned how to focus on each child according to their need, to be as honest with them as we expected them to be with us. To be fair, to wield authority without being an authoritarian, to judge without being judgmental, to counsel but never preach, to be ready to scold when it was called for, and to be equally generous with praise when it was deserved.

According to my kids, we did this reasonably well.

Looking at the adults they’ve become, I’d have to agree.

Personally, I’m still working on many of those traits I tried to instill in my offspring. But in order to be a success as a father, I had to lead by example. And in setting that example, I ended up learning a lot about life… and myself. In the end, I’m proud of my children and the adults they’ve become. And I’m almost as pleased with the man they’ve made of me.

This Father’s Day, I’ll celebrate every moment with my kids, every laugh, every smile, every memory revisited, and be thankful for the time (and the love) we continue to share.

For What It’s Worth,