My son is 8mos. old. He’s my only child and he’s the shyt.
He’s everything great you’ve heard about being a parent. And he’s many things bad you’ve heard as well. He’s easily still The Shyt.
Being my first father’s day, and given the fact that I was in fact visiting my own father, (he lives about a 3 hour drive away), I once again found myself struggling with what to give him. It happens every freakin’ year, but this one seemed even more difficult since I was myself now a father. So it made me think, what would I want for father’s day if my son was 30?
With THAT in mind, I’m now thinking:
“Neck Tie? Lame.”
“Clothes? Giftcard? Sport tickets?”
“Lame…Lame…kinda coooool, but I can do better.”
Then I began to think about my new found endeavor to be honest w/ myself and my struggles, and it hit me. It was so obvious – At the age of 30, I would give him the gift of knowing his son better. That’s EXACTLY what I would want. I would want my son to be open and honest with me – about anything. I would want to know him better.
I would want him to WANT me to want to know him better…if that makes any sense at all.
So I opened a bottle of wine, called my dad away from the family to the backyard. I then thanked him for the father’s day card he got me, which was unusually sentimental for a retired ARMY Master Sergeant who was never that big on showing anything that could be perceived as a feeling – otherwise known as a weakness.
We sat down, and I finally said, “So for my gift to you…[loooong pause], you get to ask me anything you want, and I’ll give you an honest answer. Doesn’t matter the subject. I’ll tell you the truth or my opinion on the matter.”
He looked at me, and said, “Wow…that’s quite a task. There’s so much I could ask.”
“Go ahead and ask away. I have my own opinions, thoughts, conclusions, and otherwise as a man. But I’m also comfortable enough to stand behind who I am, whether you agree with how I view the world or not. I’m also grown enough to still be honest with you in spite of that possibility of disagreement.”
After about two seconds of blank stare eye contact, he nodded his head and we proceeded to have one of the best conversations of our relationship. I’m not going to tell you what he asked me [yet], but you can imagine we did a pretty good job of cutting through years of talking about surface level bullshyt. And on that day, I could tell that he was talking to me as a fellow man rather than simply his son. It was a good day.
I learned a lot about my dad that day. He’s accomplished a lot, but I also learned that at the age of 60, there are A LOT of things he hasn’t done that he still wishes to do. He spoke about the obligations of a man. The things he would do if he didn’t have those responsibilities on his back. It’s always an interesting story to hear someone’s motivation for doing something or not. It was during that part of the conversation that I realized both what I wanted to be and what I wanted from my own son – also known as The Shyt in case you forgot.
I want my Dad to look up to me one day.
I want him to see me doing all the things I want to do, INCLUDING taking care of my obligations as a man. I want him to see me DO BOTH. I still think my Dad can accomplish many of the items on his list (I’ll try to get him there in another post I’m sure), but regardless of the “why” he hasn’t done it, I still want him to see me as a do’er. I want him to see me and admire that I now live in a mindset where I can acheive great things both directly BECAUSE of him in and DESPITE him.
I would love to be able to look up to my own son one day. Don’t get me wrong, he makes me happy and proud every day, but when you’re still shittin’ on yourself and then wanting to rambunctiously play in your feces afterwards, I’m not really ‘looking up to you’. I’m talking about to really look up at and admire him. To be almost envious of the mindset it takes to simply be the person he is. To admire the sheer courage to be who he is both because of me and in spite of me. Because I will no doubt pass along many of my flaws to him. We’re all flawed – damaged. More likely than not, damaged in the most profound of ways, and I’ll do my best to shield him from any unnecessary hurt. But then to see my son succeed and happy despite the fact that his parents were profoundly ordinary people w/ issues they never overcame would mean the world to me. It would give me peace of mind. What gift could be greater?
I’m going to be that person first. I want to give my dad that peace of mind. Then I want to be the best example I can be to my son. I want that example to be human – flawed – accessible. I want that person to be who I am – not who I pretend to be for anyone or anything else.
To my Dad – who to this day is still full of valuable lessons. Happy Father’s Day.
For the other readers, here’s some insight into my kind of upbringing: