I know this is a little unusual to share, but I share it in the hopes that it might be an encouragement to you Dads. Guys: your sons need for you to be tender with them. They need to know not just that you love them and are proud of them, but that you have their back when things aren't going so well. They want your compassion just as much as they want your help problem solving. Our 10 year old has had a rough week, and Brett is traveling. Brett isn't a Perfect Dad. He makes a lot of parenting mistakes like we all do, but he got this one right.
Brett wrote this email to Colin during his busy work day today. He asked me to print it out and give it to him when I shuttled him between basketball practices this afternoon. I made banana nut muffins for the occasion.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you this morning. I’m proud you found the strength to go to school. Mom told me you were very sad. I was very sad to hear that when I landed in London. It made me wish I could be with you. But, I’m so glad to hear you persisted.
I want to make sure you know a couple of important things. You are not in trouble and no one is mad at you. You know the whole – “he has bad form on his jump shot….” –“does that mean you don’t like him, Dad?” exchange we have on various topics? We know you are having some challenges at school, but that does not make you a bad person or that we (or other people) like you any less. I think it’s really important that you know you have a lot of pulling people for you. Mom and I are trying very hard to help you with the confusing and frustrating things. That’s our job and we couldn’t be more committed to that job. It doesn’t mean that we, or other adults, are always going to do or say exactly what you want. But, we really are trying to do what’s best. We are praying and working to find ways to help.
Remember when we talked about the sermon where God doesn’t make mistakes and he always puts us exactly where he wants us to be. Well, it’s probably not very fun working thru some of the things you are right now – but God made Colin Ballbach in a certain way and he has a plan for who you are going to become and right now – in 5th grade, in Luxembourg, in Mr. Fosters class, at ISL, playing basketball, playing Xbox, with 2 brothers, a Mom and Dad that love him, a passion for sports and stats, a warmth and kindness that he shows his family, a dislike for bad food, a brave boy, a courageous boy – that’s where God wants you to be. I don’t expect you to understand now, but one of the things Mom and I have learned now that we are old (and, boy, are we old) is that the times we really grow and get better are when difficult things happen NOT good things. We don’t really get better when things are easy. So, you are learning a lot and we are here with you. And, believe it or not you are growing. We can see that. I saw it in how you calmed down after the disappointment of going to Gabe’s and how you reacted at times on the Venice trip.
Here is all that we ask of you:
1) Do your best – do the very best that you can in every situation.
2) Be Kind and Respectful
3) Trust – trust us, trust God. Know that all of us want whats best for Colin. It won’t always make sense or seem like that. But we do. Please trust us.
We love you very much Colin. I hope you have a good Sparta practice, good evening and a GREAT day at school tomorrow and trip to Dusseldorf. I can’t wait to hear about it and see you on Saturday.
And for the response? Silent reading, hard fought sniffles, lots of muffins consumed, a call to Brett's mobile with a quiet greeting: "Is this a convenient time, Dad?" and then the watershed. A big one.
Dads, it doesn't matter your physical geography. You can move the earth under your son's feet from a neighboring country when you let them in on the geography of your heart. Not just your heartbeat, but the contours of your specific, totally unique love for them. Don't wait for a celebratory moment. If today was any indication, the valleys are good opportunities. And Moms: banana nut muffins can only help.