In the past I wrote about my dad and mentioned how growing up with him wasn’t exactly a picnic. The cool thing, though, is that he went from being an unhappy man who yelled a lot to a man who sent an email to his kids saying this: “The unity and bond in this so diverse family is exceptional [read more about how god played a big joke on us] and mirrors to me the beauty of the timeless, indescribable Unity of the Life Principle which is the foundation of all living things, and what is most important, it goes beyond the differences of individuality! So, thank you all for that wonderful family gift.” Sweet, right? Plus, I can still tease him about the difficult childhood—win-win.
This year in addition to wishing my son’s dad and all the dads a happy day, I’d also like to send a shout out to all the non-dads who are just as important to families as parents are. Raising a kid really does take a village and the Village People, and it helps no one when our culture celebrates individual independence, which is the exact opposite of what parents need. Believe me, being alone with a toddler having a full-on meltdown tantrum is akin to dropping off a lone soldier in enemy territory. In fact, I’d probably choose the enemy territory. At least I’d have a chance of being captured. Toddlers take no prisoners.
As a society we have been doing a better job of making sure there are enough female role models for girls, and that’s great. Kids need male role models too, and need to see men doing all kinds of interesting things and defining success in different ways. Hell, we all need to see it! Seeing other ways of being, I hope encourages us to be our authentic selves. So thanks to all the teachers, uncles, nephews, brothers, cousins, in-laws, out-laws, friends, mentors, next door neighbors, kind strangers, coworkers, and many others who have engaged in some way in a kid’s life. Handing back a runaway ball with a smile, playing a fun game on a long plane ride, playing dress up, sending entertaining snail mail as a novelty, sharing a passion, being a full-on caretaker. Thank you, and never underestimate your impact on a kid (or the parent), even if it’s just a few minutes. Kids are the original receptacle for downloading content, and for better or worse, you have been scanned.
And I also want to say thank you to diverse group of non-dads who have been a part of my son’s life, and made us richer for it. And if he takes a bad turn, I’ll do the right thing and drag you all down with me and blog about it.
If this seems familiar to you, I posted this last year and have made a few revisions.