Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Father's Day

Father's day is upon us. So much effort is dedicated to creating and finding the right father's day gift. Once I became a father, I realized the best gifts are unintended blessings from my kids.

For instance, when our eldest daughter was learning to talk, she and I visited Thayer Street in Providence to pick up some gyro sandwiches at Andreas. Mohawks were popular amongst Thayer's crowd. A young man with foot long spikes walked in front of the car. I watched her eyes follow him up the street. She turned to me and asked: "daddy, is that a dragon?"

Our son was going to bed one night when he was four. He looked troubled. I asked if anything was wrong. He said he had a secret. Assuming he'd hidden an accident, or had broken something fragile, I sensed this was my opportune time to build his trust. I said he could share with me. Everything would be OK. I wouldn't be upset. He turned, quietly, and said: "I love toys. I really, really love toys."

When our middle daughter was a toddler, she loved to be hugged and carried. Sometimes, her interests went unannounced. As I walked from the living room to the kitchen with a tray of dishes, she flew from the couch and screamed: "catch me daddy!"

These incidents, combined with bum, bum dances, daddy imitations, thoughtful concerns about family and friends make me wonder in amazement about the miracles in my life, and the gifts I receive everyday in the form of my children.

On her own volition, when she was ten our eldest daughter started a greeting card company. She recruited her sister and friends, and targeted dad as a main client. The cards covered all personal milestones, calendar events, and all religious celebrations. Some were humorous, some rhymed, all were customized with decorations.
Before kids, my identity revolved around being a husband, brother, son, cousin, nephew, grandson, godfather, uncle, friend, neighbor, coach, writer, speaker, teacher. Being a father changed my perspective. It made me think of life in terms of their lives.

I believe a person does not need biological bonds to receive these gifts. I had a very good friend who died two years ago. He was a war hero, a public servant, an attorney, and a philanthropist, but he never had the opportunity to be a biological father. However, he cultivated relationships where he received these gifts from people he mentored. Thus, the true gift of being a dad, is giving others time, compassion, and humor, so they can share their gifts.

This is what makes great coaches effective, and great teams thrive. They sense a bond where their gifts are celebrated and recognized.

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