Friday, February 24, 2017

Thirty-four Years Ago

34 years ago, at this very moment, I became a father for the first time.

I had earned my master's degree in counseling just two months earlier, and when the doctor said "It's a boy!", my response was "I don't have a behavioral repertoire to deal with these contingencies!"

Everyone in the delivery room laughed; I laughed as well.  However, I was telling the truth, even if I didn't know it at the time.  I was just shy of my 30th birthday, and I knew nothing about being a father.  I knew some things I DIDN'T want to do;  everything else was just theory.

That turned out not to matter so much.  I really can't remember when I formalized my guidelines for being a father, but I know it happened well in advance of his first birthday.  It's possible that I had them in place even before he was born; I know that at least one of them was on my mind, even if I wasn't yet thinking of it as a  Basic Rule Of Fatherhood.

1.  My son was always going to know that I loved him.  I pledged to show him that with the way that I acted, and back up my actions with my words.
2.  My son was always going to know that I loved his mother.
3.  I was never going to be afraid to play and be silly with my son, even in public.
4.  I was going to be honest with my son, and any time I was wrong, I would admit it to him, and do what I could to correct my error.
5.  I would read to him, and play with him, putting his needs before mine.

Except for the very last item, I am confident that I complied  with the rules.  I might have had a shot at number five, if someone hadn't given him a wind-up locomotive that played music and made noise for all of 15 seconds before it had to be wound up again.

Over the years, I adopted new practices and applications of the rules.  However, the rules never changed, until the point that my marriage ended, and rule number two had the word "loved" replaced with the word "respected."

Did it work?  The answer to that can be found in my son's family.  If you were to watch my son, and his wife, and their two boys, you would see love in action.  He is a great husband, father, and role model.  That's due to him, and not to me; however, I did raise the child that became that man.

And so, in conclusion, I think I've dealt with those contingencies just fine.

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