Ask me to share memories of things I did as a kid with my father and I’ll tell stories about fixing things around the house, family vacations with dad driving our station wagon while my sisters and I stared out the window and watched America roll by and moments in time where dad wasn’t there but I was because of the things he did to make sure I was.
That is a convoluted way of saying he paid for camp, youth programs and or helped make sure I had enough cash to go to Israel when I was 16. It wouldn’t be fair not to mention mom because she was a part of all these moments and memories too but she didn’t teach me how to be a father.
Not saying that she had no influence because she did but you can only learn so much about being a father from your mother. Don’t mistake that for a lack of gratitude because it is not.
How Much Time Does It Take To Be A Good Father?
I can’t tell you the name of the guy who voiced the question nor can I provide any context for it but when I heard it I shook my head.
Shook it because I have never viewed parenting as being similar to a job where you can say you spend 50% of your time on XYZ, 20% on PDQ and the rest on miscellaneous.
Being a good father takes time but how much time that is varies from man to man and situation to situation.
I don’t spend much time thinking about how I compare to my father or grandfathers. We are different men facing different situations in different times and places.
Part of that is because I was taught by them to pay attention to the present and work on maintaining and or improving things. If I asked for advice they would give it but it always came with the caveat that I had to make the best choice for me.
“I am not living your life. You are. Do the thing that makes you comfortable and enables you to sleep at night.”
That has always made sense to me so I have done my best to follow it. Doesn’t mean that I haven’t had moments of doubt or question. Doesn’t mean there haven’t been times where I wondered what the older generations would have done because I have.
Twenty years later I wonder what sort of conversations we would have now and how different some things would be. There wouldnâ€™t be that memory of telling my grandfather that his son had died and the guilt I felt for making grandpa cry.
I think my uncle would have enjoyed Texas and encouraged me to do so many things.
Twenty years later the conversations about what makes you a man would have been far different. There is much more to this story but the time for telling it has endedâ€¦for now.Â What Makes You A Man?
Be Your Own Man
I loved playing baseball and had dreams that one day I would play for the Dodgers. I could play the game for hours and never get bored but when my son was young he never took to it.
Sometimes I would push him to play catch with me but he didn’t like it much so I decided I didn’t want to turn baseball into something he hated and stopped pushing.
I figured he might come around later and it was better to give him room to come to the game.
Last week he told me he wants to buy a new glove and play catch with me. I said of course and he told me he is thinking about playing now. I told him I would help him and reminded him that if he is really interested he is going to have to make a commitment.
That is because when you are five years-old you play with kids who aren’t very good. Maybe there are a few who show some athletic promise but not many.
And when you are 6,7,8,9 and 10 you don’t run into very many kids who can throw real heat. Sure there are some outliers who are pretty good but not many.
Little Jack is going to turn 14 in December.
If the kid goes through with his plan to play he is going to face an uphill battle. Some of these boys are going to throw pitches that will be virtually unhittable for a while.
I told him that. I told him that I thought if he committed himself there wouldn’t be a reason why he couldn’t start hitting them and I believe that.
“You might run into some weaker pitchers out there too. Might be some that can’t throw so well , those guys can be good for your ego. But you have to be prepared to deal with some rough moments. Comes with the game.”
He nodded his head and I smiled, thought back a few years when I tried to get him to play basketball and he told me he was his own man and that he didn’t have to play the games I liked.
Did I Help Him?
Went to bed the other night and stared at the ceiling while I wondered if I helped him by not pushing him earlier.
Kids forget how much time parents spend watching them grow up. We often know more about them than they realize. I wasn’t surprised to hear that baseball caught his eye and I won’t be surprised if he says the same thing about basketball.
But basketball is a different animal to me because there are similarities between it and soccer that I can leverage to help him. It is a game where force of will and effort can go a lot further in terms of making a difference in the game.
We’ll have to see how things play out because the ridiculous amounts of homework he gets will influence what he does with his free time but if you ask me I’d be happy to play catch or shoot some hoops with him.
That would be enough because the most important part of being a father isn’t tied into how much time but the quality of the time you spend with your kids.
If you are among the long time readers you’ll notice some noise and dust around here. That is because we are mixing things up here to try and provide a better experience for all of us.
The goal is create a better space for storytelling and story reading. Please bear with me as I try to things sorted out, I’ll do my best to minimize the chaos and clutter.