Dads. Stop breaking your children. Please.
I feel a need to write this post after what I witnessed at Costco yesterday. Forgive me for another post written in desperation and anger. Please read all the way to the end. I know it’s long, but this is something that needs to be said. It’s something that needs to be heard. It’s something that needs to be shared.
As Noah and I stood in line to make a return, I watched as a little boy (he couldn’t have been older than six) looked up at his dad and asked very timidly if they could buy some ice cream when they were done. The father glared him down, and through clenched teeth, growled at the boy to “leave him alone and be quiet”. The boy quickly cowered to the wall where he stood motionless and hurt for some time.
The line slowly progressed and the child eventually shuffled back to his father as he quietly hummed a childish tune, seemingly having forgotten the anger his father had just shown. The father again turned and scolded the boy for making too much noise. The boy again shrunk back and cowered against the wall, wilted.
I was agitated. I was confused. How could this man not see what I see? How could this man not see what a beautiful spirit stood in his shadow? How could this man be so quick to stub out all happiness in his own boy? How could this man not cherish the only time he’ll ever have to be everything to this boy? To be the person that matters most to this boy?
We were three from the front now, and the boy started to come towards his dad yet again. His dad immediately stepped out of the line, jammed his fingers into his son’s collar bones until he winced in pain, and threatened him. “If you so much as make a sound or come off of that wall again, I promise you’re going to get it when we get home.” The boy again cowered against the wall. This time, he didn’t move. He didn’t make a sound. His beautiful face pointed down, locked to the floor and expressionless. He had been broken. And that’s how his father wanted it. He didn’t want to deal with him, and breaking him was the easiest way.
And we wonder why so many of our kids grow up to be screwed up.
I’m going to be blunt. People see my relationship with Noah, and quite often put me up on a pedestal or sing my praises for loving him more than most dads love their own kids.
Damn it. I don’t understand that, and I’ll never understand that. Loving my son, building my son, touching my son, playing with my son, being with my son… these aren’t tasks that only super dads can perform. These are tasks that every dad should perform. Always. Without fail. There is nothing special about me. I am a dad who loves his son and would literally do anything for his well-being, safety, and health. I would gladly take a rake in the face or a jackhammer to my feet before I cut my own son down or make him feel small.
Sigh. I am far from a perfect dad. And I always will be. But I’m a damn good dad, and my son will always feel bigger than anything life can throw at him. Why? Because I get it. I get the power a dad has in a child’s life, and in a child’s level of self-belief. I get that everything I ever do and ever say to my son will be absorbed, for good or for bad. What I don’t get is how some dads don’t get it…