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April 29, 2010

Childhood: Is there a day wasted?

by Dave Malnes

A new father quickly learns that fatherhood is a process of discovery.  When a man decides to be a committed father, he is in for plenty of surprises.  One of the first discoveries is totally unexpected.  A wonderful, powerful love awakens within causing men to break open a hidden hatch of emotions we never thought we possessed.  A new feeling of devotion, protector and provider wells up inside.

Whether fathers know it or not, they bring to their young family a museum that has been carefully crafted over the years and will have a profound on their parenting.  If a father takes the time to carefully examine each exhibit, he will find how his attitudes, beliefs and behaviors are presently influenced by these displays.  There is nothing scarier than actually taking a person on one’s own personal museum.  For the purpose of encouraging young fathers, allow me to share my museum as I put it on public display.

Exhibit #1        Childhood: Is there a day wasted?

Young boys just don’t like to sit still.  They enjoy being active by playing football, building foots or racing on bikes.  The ultimate in playtime for any young boy is enjoying an activity with their father.  I have fond memories of the good times I spent with my father.  Each moment my father gave me represented a gold coin carefully deposited into my treasure chest.  The coins my father gave me have now increased in value since I have become a parent.  In this busy world, I have grown to appreciate the one resource proven to be the most valuable; a father’s time.  I’m repaying my father by passing on the inheritance to my children.

In my first exhibit, a sawed off three wood with electric tape for a handle is silhouetted on a canvassed prop representing the activity my father and I enjoyed the most – playing golf.  As a young boy, I spent hours hitting plastic golf balls all over the front and back yard.  My dad would take me to the junior high playing fields to hit a blue mesh laundry bag full of old gold ball and he would patiently teach me the intricacies of the golf swing and a love for the game.

There was nothing more exciting than the night before my father and I were to play a round of golf together.  Playing eighteen holes on a golf course was a big deal.  Dad was a public school teacher and mom stayed home to raise my brother and I, so money was tight.  Each round of gold was preciously savored.  The anticipation of the next morning made sleep practically impossible.  It was said that only earthquakes or a fire alarm could get me out of bed on a Saturday morning – except an early round of golf.  A small knock on the door at the crack of dawn would cause me to instantly spring out of bed and wake up to the aroma of Dad’s special “We’re going golfing!” breakfast of hash browns, link sausages, eggs and toast.

It’s funny that I can’t remember how well I played on those special golf outings.  I’m sure we celebrated my few good hits and received encouragement and instruction after many poor ones.  I will never forget the hole where I made my first par and the hole I first beat my dad, but my warmest memories center on the joy and anticipation of golfing with him.  My father probably didn’t think much of the importance those times were to me, and by all accounts, he would have rather been playing golf with his friends.  Yet, he chose to play with me, sharing his love for the game of golf.

“It is said of Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing.  The day was fixed in his adult mind, and he often reflected upon many of the things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together.  After having heard of that particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective.  Turing to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered, “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”

There is never a day wasted when a father offers his time and companionship to his son or daughter.

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