When Buds and I met, I was immediately so entranced, so enamored, so attracted, and so in love, I didn’t really think about if he’d be a good father to our children some day. We certainly talked about having children; I even remember the first time. He was driving me to the airport for my flight out East for Spring Break. I had planned the trip before I met him, and though I was excited to see Saffy and Barton, it was a wrench to be apart.
We’d been dating one month.
As we rode up the escalator, he was talking about our sons wearing cowboy boots. I turned to him and threw my arms around his neck. “Our sons.” I’d never planned a future with anyone before.
Now that we have a son; based on what I know of him at 8 years old, I don’t think cowboy boots are in his near future, but there are other hopes and dreams that may come to fruition.
Buds shared some of those hopes and dreams in church yesterday.
Let’s stop to think about that for a moment. My wonderful hubby, who didn’t grow up in a church, and for whom it was difficult to imagine finding a spiritual community that would feel nurturing and safe and invigorating, has found such a place of growth and connection at UUCF, that our pastor called and asked him to deliver one of the homilies about Father’s Day.
Three Dads spoke, and all did a lovely job. Buds got laughs, and a little throat tightening from us all.
Here are the words he spoke, and the video I took. I was so incredibly proud and grateful that others were given the opportunity to see what an amazing human he is…what an incredible Dad.
Wow. I’m Chris Gemignani. I normally spend my time hiding on the lee side of Jennie’s friendliness. This suits me well.
So Mary Katherine asked me to think about the joys of fatherhood. To share little stories and little wisdom about little ones. We have three kids; Zoe 9, Zachary 8, and little Noa (a girl!) 5.
I want to share two things about parenting that Jennie and I think about a lot. First, children must find their own path. There’s a joyterror in releasing control. Of letting them stray from sight, wander over a hill. John Hodgman has an advice show where he mediates disputes. John is a former correspondent for the Daily Show, the PC nerd in those old Mac vs. PC TV commercials.
Recently, a young couple appeared on his show. Two science nerds. They asked his judgement about where their kids should go to camp when they were of age. The father had been to sports camps and found them hierarchical, bullying societies. He wanted his kids to go to nerd camps. The mother, had that great American experience at her childhood camps. Canoeing, archery, swimming in cold lakes, campfires. She loved it and wanted her kids to have this experience, partly so their little nerdlings would have something in common with their classmates of the future.
In making his decision, John expressed the joyterror of letting kids find their own path better than I could, so I’ll borrow his words.
“You cannot repair your own psyche by forcing choices onto them that you wish you had made yourself. Nor can you become young again by forcing your children to relive the things you enjoyed the most in your life. All you can do is to give them tools that will allow them to better live in the world and to be attentive to the things that they are interested in, whether you like those things or not, and give them access to those things to the best of your ability and then hope for the best. “
Hope for the best.
Secondly, respect. We try to treat our little humans like little humans, worthy of our full attention. A dialog between someone who’s seen much of the world and someone who’s seen not so much. And seeing not as much of the world is a strength too. There’s a pure joy in learning new things, a lack of fear that comes with having felt fewer hurts. We teach and we listen and we learn.
As Zachary told Noa the other day as they were heading to the pool.
Noa, there are three parts to life.
Well played, little man.
As a parent of little ones, there are unique acts you get to experience. Like ruffling hair. That possessive and fond motion when you reach down and connect to their wiry bodies, touch the back of their head, hold them close. I never knew this touch before having kids and it will be lost, lose its meaning, become an annoyance, when they’ve grown.
But for now they stand close like they belong. Like racehorses must enjoy the pressing closeness of the gates. Then the bell clangs and the doors spring open and they fly off.
Thanks, Laura for the time, and this is a great opportunity to ruffle the hair of your neighbor.
Father's Day Homily