Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Tale of Two Dads

     All 5 Couch's were hanging out in our bedroom today when my son said, "Dad, can I talk to you in private?" So we snuck off to his room and he asked me his confidential question (which shall remain confidential since his mother was trying to worm it out of us and she will definitely read this post). After our meeting, I sat down next to him on his bed, gave him a kiss on his head and told him he was my favorite boy in the whole world. This led to spending the bulk of the afternoon in my son's bedroom. How could I refuse his invitation? He wanted to see artwork from my childhood so I pulled out my big ol' box of sketch pads, class projects from high school,  assorted photos, and other memorabilia from the 80's (I found my "Jams" velcro wallet! So excited). All my boy wanted to do today was spend time with me. And I relished it.
     I didn't have too many similar experiences with my dad. He was a truck driver and worked odd hours.  Sometimes he would start his shift at 10 o' clock at night. He slept in the daytime which left us creeping around the house trying not to wake him up. He wasn't really a theme park kind of dad, so we never went to Disneyland together, much less Great America. Never went to a professional ball game with him, a rite of passage for every boy, at least in my opinion. Dad worked hard and when he wasn't at work, we had to be quiet. I'm sorry to say there was a disconnect between me and him. Don't get me wrong, I loved my dad, I just never felt the need to have a private conversation with him or to invite him to spend the afternoon in my room.
     My sister once paid me a high compliment behind my back. She said to my wife that I was a good dad even in light of my own dad not being around very much when I was growing up. When Marty told me this, I felt acknowledged, finally, by someone else in my family. I always knew my father was pretty absent. It just felt a little redeeming for another family member to notice. I am so not perfect in my fatherhood. I have my share of parental blunders and cringe-worthy mistakes, but I knew way before I even had kids that it was going to be different between me and them.
     Any time my boy expresses a desire to hang with me, I'm blown away. I hope he always wants to. And I will do everything I can to accommodate him. You always want your kids to do better than you did. I only hope he becomes a better father than I am.