Happy Father’s Day!
I have been debating which of two posts to put up today- one short & sweet, the other longer and more thoughtful. My indecision has led me to post both. Feel free to read the short one and then move on. Or stick around for some navel-gazing.
As I mentioned in a recent post, our family traipsed through a San Diego Dollar Store the other day. As I was discovering whacky playthings, my EC found something sweet, and well, sweet. But first, some backstory:
When I was a boy, my father always kept a supply of mints in his suit coat pocket. Sometimes during Sacrament Meeting, he would reach his hand deep into his pocket, pull out a mint, and hand it me. Or my sister, or brothers. He never made a show of it. Never made eye contact, sneaky.
When feeling daring, I would reach into his pocket and find one for myself. He always had mints. They were either pink or white, and chalky.
I don’t know where the name came from, but our family always referred to them as “High Priest Mints.” When asked, I remember my dad answering that they were to “keep the High Priests awake.”
Fast forward 40+ years. Last week in the Dollar Store, my EC finds me and asks me about the ‘High Priest Mints” that I had told her about.
“I think they have them.”
I found this odd, because I had not seen them in years. But, sure enough, there they were hanging on pegs in the candy section.
They aren’t anything fancy – just normal candies, peppermint or wintergreen – and I don’t even think they are even that tasty. Apparently they are called “Canada Mints.” Who knew?
I bought some, and the next week, I showed the mints to my sister. The first words our of her mouth were, “High Priest Mints.” As it should be.
While they are just mints, they evoke memories of my childhood, and of my father. Funny how something so simple can carry such a wallop. Especially with Father’s Day on the horizon.
I find myself thinking of my dad often, and in this instance, I think of his constancy in being there in church beside us, where he should have been, where we should have been.
If the memory of a simple candy can trigger memories of my father, I can’t help but wonder what small things will evoke memories in my own children years from now.
I’ve been a father for 27 years now – more than half my life. Over the years there are times where I have felt more “Dad” than others. For example:
Nothing feels more “Dad” than running behind a child as they are learning to ride a bike. Or cleaning up vomit.
When I was a young father, it all felt so new, and there was always a nagging worry in the back of my mind if I was doing it right.
• Am I setting the proper example?
• Am I loving enough?
• Am I too hard, or too soft?
• Am I equipping my kids with what they need for the future?
• Do my kids know what I stand for?
Now that I have been at it for almost three decades, I can comfortably say that I still ask myself the exact same questions. Not to beat myself up, or beat any of you up. Merely for an “inventory,” and perhaps an opportunity to make some adjustments.
I may not be pacing the floor with a colicky baby at 3:00am, but feeling “Dad” does not go away. In fact, the past month I have felt more “Dad’ than in a long time.
• Four weeks ago, my fourth FOML graduated from High School. We attended the graduation ceremony and the baccalaureate and were proud to watch him sing at both events,
• A few days laterI had the great privilege of laying my hands on the head of that same son and ordaining him an Elder.
• Three weeks ago I spent a week with my youngest in the mountains as I was in charge of running his Scout Camp. I must say, camp was great, but the best part was sharing it with my son.
• Right on the heels of Scout Camp was our family faction. It was our only chance to get everyone together, so we headed to the beach. Nothing makes you feel more “Dad” than getting the entire family together under one roof, and burning through piles of cash.
• Home for four days, and we were on the road again – this time taking FOML4 to BYU as a new Freshman. (Cue tons of wonderful memories) Nothing feels more “Dad” than carrying stuff up the stairs to your kid’s dorm room. (Except maybe wearing out your credit card at Target buying all the stuff he might need.)
• Friday I saw the new movie “Inside Out,” which should make any parent take stock…
• Yesterday I spent the day with my eldest, my only daughter, as we ran around Provo, visited some wonderful relatives, and just hung out. Sure, she is a remarkable, independent adult, but she is still my little girl.
Which brings us to today – Father’s Day. Due to this odd sequence of events, I find myself in a hotel room with my EC, with nary a child in sight. The last imd I was not home for Father’s Day was 26 years ago. As for the kids, two are in Provo, two are at home, and one is at his home with his almost-ready-to-deliver wife.
While it may seem that being away from home wouldn’t feel very “Dad,” It still does. My kids had the forethought to celebrate Father’s Day with me last Sunday. (And I saved myself a BonaFide Box. hehehe.)
On this quiet Father’s Day morning, sitting in the dark, I have time to type, and reflect. And ask myself those same questions that i mentioned above.
And I can’t really answer any of them. Maybe one day my kids can answer them for me. The only question that I am confident about is “Do my kids know what I stand for?”
One advantage of being opinionated, loud and a blogger, is that my kids never have to wonder what their dad believes in. And I am glad about that. If that question comes up at the Judgment Bar, I won’t sweat it.
I have a friend who once told me that he tries not to discuss religious matters with his kids, because it is such a personal thing that he wants them to work through it for themselves, without his “interference.”
I told him that was the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life. What? He will gladly teach them how to fix a car, do their taxes, or myriad other things – but the single most important thing they need to learn on this earth is “hands off?”
Satan, and the world, have absolutely no problem whatsoever in trying to define, teach and influence what our kids believe in. They will gladly fill the vacuum left by absentee parents. If we are not willing to push back, we have already ceded the battle.
One of the key responsibilities of Fatherhood is to find out what is true and right, live it, and teach it to our kids, using both example AND words.
I think when I was younger, I underestimated how much the “Dad” feelings of responsibility and worry would still exist even after the kids have left the nest and are successfully living their own lives. I’m guessing that it never goes away, merely alters the way it is expressed.
I love my kids. I love being their Dad.
I love my Dad, and I miss him terribly.
In three weeks I will be feeling very “Grampa” as well as “Dad,” which opens up a whole new world I have yet to experience.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you men out there. I hope you are feeling very “Dad,” and relishing the privilege.