Friday, May 7, 2010

Start here . . .

(Photo courtesy of Bill Odle,
one of my favorite dads of all time.)
May. Mother’s Day. It’ll be here before we know it, and then Father’s Day will follow closely behind. Kids will buy cards, maybe some flowers for mom and then, in June . . . well, something manly for Dad. (Does anybody really buy their dad a tie anymore?) And we parents will eat up the extra attention we get – even if it’s just for that one day.

As a kid, I never had trouble picking out a card for my mom, but my father was a different story. The ones that exclaiming, “Happy Birthday to a GREAT Dad!” or “Dad, You’re the Best!” just didn’t work. By the time I was in kindergarten, I knew my father wasn’t a great dad, and even though I loved him fiercely, I knew he wasn’t anywhere near the best. I knew that good dads might not live with their kids, but surely they at least called them or wrote to them, didn’t they? My dad popped in and out of my life just often enough to keep me off-balance but not so often that I expected anything from him. I’m reminded of him every time I hear the lyrics from John Mayer’s song, “Daughters.”

mmm“Oh, you see that skin?
mmmIt's the same she's been standing in
mmmSince the day she saw him walking away.
mmmShe's left cleaning up the mess he made.”

My father’s nickname for me was, in fact, “Daddy’s mess,” a reflection on his self-awareness, not on me. At least he never kidded himself about being more than he really was. I see too many mothers and fathers who do, though. Ask any of them what kind of parent they are, and they’ll tell you that they’re not perfect but that they’re pretty darn good. Unfortunately, as a teacher, I see kids that tell me otherwise. Kids who never have their homework done. Kids who come and go as they please because nobody cares where they are as long as they’re out of the way. Kids who use language that would make most grownups blush. (Trust me, there are still some people who blush.) Kids who live off junk food. Kids who take whatever’s not nailed down. Kids who are so hungry for love and affection that they’ll do just about anything to get it, regardless of the consequences.

It breaks my heart. Especially that last part because I know that kids who are that desperate for love rarely learn to love others in healthy ways, themselves. And I am reminded of the refrain in Mayer's “Daughters”:

mmm“Fathers, be good to your daughters;
mmmDaughters will love like you do, yeah.
mmmGirls become lovers who turn into mothers,
mmmSo, mothers, be good to your daughters, too.”

Jesus said he was giving His followers a new commandment, that we love each other as He loves us. Wouldn’t it be great if we started with our children? Or perhaps even with someone else’s child?
Amen. “Let it be so.”

Soft smiles and hope,


  1. I work in a High School and could of written your same words (except my words wouldn't of made the same impact).
    You said it...
    Kids need LOVE and ATTENTION!
    Please give it to them!

  2. Just poppin' in to say hi!

  3. I teach theatre at a summer camp and feel ya'!

    I also want to say you have a fabulous face! I'm a playwright and actor and just love to find a good face! You've got one!

    Great blog!

  4. Wow, never really paid attention to those lyrics before. I went and found them after reading your post. Pretty powerful. Keep up the great writing!!