A Thousand Thanks

Yesterday, my 2 1/2 year old son gave me a homemade Father’s Day card. It was done on a piece of french vanilla colored construction paper. Around the edge of the paper is a squiggly red line. On the left side is an imprint of his right hand in blue paint, on the right his right foot. At the center is the outline of a heart in red felt tip pen ink. Within the heart is this poem:

Happy Father’s Day

“A Dad is a person
who is loving and kind,
And often he knows
what you have on your mind.
He’s someone who listens,
suggests, and defends.
A dad can be one
of your very best friends!
He’s proud of your triumphs,
but when things go wrong,
A dad can be patient
and helpful and Strong.
In all that you do,
a dad’s love plays a part.
There’s always a place for him
deep in you heart.
And each year that passes,
you’re even more glad,
More grateful and proud
just to call him your dad!
Thank you, Dad…
for listening and caring,
for giving and sharing,
but, especially, for just being you!
Happy Father’s Day

As it turns out, I had the rare opportunity to spend Father’s Day with my dad and my son. My parents were visiting from the east coast. The visit wasn’t planned this way; it was just coincidence. Yet what a treat to have them here, especially my dad, for Father’s Day. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on what I’ve learned from him.

No parent is perfect. My dad isn’t perfect and neither am I. Everyday we make mistakes. We do the best we can with the tools we have. Some parents are fortunate enough to have amassed more tools and skills than others. I believe this is most often due to luck of the draw, more than anything else. Yet it’s important to recognize the parts of us that we took from our parents — the good and the bad.

From my dad I believe I’ve learned patience and humility (at times). I’ve learned to be kind and how to love unconditionally. I don’t feel I learned how to be open and comfortable with my emotions and feelings. I don’t feel I learned how to be assertive. I did learn to exaggerate… just a bit.

Just as it’s important to understand our parents role in who we are, it is equally important to choose what we wish to pass onto our children. Here are few things, I wish to hopefully teach my son.

I want to teach him to be patient and humble, kind and loving. I want to him to take risks, but know that with risk not only comes reward, but defeat and heartache and pain. I want him to trust himself, and others. I want him to work hard and do the best he can at whatever he puts his mind too.

Most of all I want him to be happy. I want him to be happy with who he is and what he does, not for what he has. I want him to be happy because he is fully engaged, not because he won. I want him to be happy whether he succeeds or fails.

From my experience, these are not easy lessons to learn. It takes time and support and love. So I ask you, “What are the lessons you’ve learned from your father? What are the lessons you wish to teach your children?”

If you’ve never thought about this, maybe it’s time to start. As a son and a father, I am humbled and exhilarated by the awesome responsibility of raising a child. It is both a terrifying and joyful experience. One I wouldn’t trade for anything else… not fame, not fortune… but maybe a good night sleep every once in a while would be nice.

I thank my dad for all his efforts and wish that my efforts bear a bountiful harvest. And for you I wish the same. Good luck with your children, because as Jane Goodall said…

“Children can change the world.”

Happy Father’s Day

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