Boy, if this isn't a loaded post I don't know what is. What makes up a good dad? Is it being there when your family needs you? Is it providing for their needs and wants? Would one be called a good dad if he never screamed at his kids? What about a man who taught his kids to navigate through life and be successful? These are all awesome traits that we as dads aspire to. But, the sign of a good dad is so much more than that even.
You know what it is, it is doing for your family out of love and mostly at the cost of your comfort and want. Every dad who is worth his salt would agree to this, but we often lack good examples in the here and now of that sacrifice. Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to tell some story about how my dad walked to work uphill both ways without shoes to provide for his family; although, he did have two jobs at most times to take care of our needs.
No, what I want to tell you about is something I have been pondering almost a year now. I found out something unbelievable last year that I didn't know for over 20 years after it took place. It has now become the one thing that impresses me most about my dad.
Growing up, I was a batboy for three years. (You can read about that here.) Well, someone had to take me to all of those games over that time period. It was noneother than my dad, faithfully attending 72 home games a year and listening to all my stories of baseball lore and dreams of making it to the Big Leagues one day. He caught for me when the season was over and to this day, I don't understand how he let me destroy the gazebo lattice work like I did with the ball without getting angry even once. My dad and I always got along when I was younger, we hit some bumpy roads as I got older, but I can now say that he and I talk a few times a week and I look forward to every minute.
Last Summer, Mom and Dad came out to see the homestead and to spend time with us. It was a hot, dry, drought of a Summer and yet, inspite of that, my 75 year-old dad played baseball in the yard with my kids for at least an hour a day. It was during one of these games that I learned a new bit of information that I had never known before. I gained admiration for my dad like I never had. We were picking up the baseballs and the gloves, just about to call it a day, the kids were wanting to go to see the Royals play and I figured it would be the perfect ending to an awesome day. As dad and I were walking up the hill back to the house, I asked him if he wanted to go to a ballgame. He looked at me and smiled. He said, "Son, I like playing baseball, but watching baseball is about the most boring thing in the world. I can't stand it." I was a little confused and said, "Well, did you just get burnt out watching all those games while I was a batboy?" "No son, he said, I hated it then too, but I did it for you, because you loved it." I was floored he did that for three summers of his life, 216 nights total, give or take. I was overcome with emotion to learn that my dad would care about me enough to do something he hated, just because I loved it. To me, that's what being a good dad is all about. It's not just the fact that he did what he did, it's the fact that he never let me know it, and in fact he acted like he enjoyed it. Talk about the real deal.
We as dad's need to do more of that, sacrificing for our kids and pouring time into them, even if we aren't so excited about what they are into. It is up to us to give them that self-worth and my dad did an amazing job at that. He wasn't perfect, but my kids would tell you the same about me. So, for many of you, I hope you get the opportunity to thank your dad this Father's Day for doing the things you had no idea about, just so you could be the person you are today. Also, let it inspire you to do the same, even if it takes twenty years or more for your kids to realize it.