This post originally appeared on my other blog but this is its proper home.
I’m a Dad. Father. Pops. Pappa. Da. Whatever my girls choose to call me actually. Mostly, for Gemma, my 7 year old, I’m just Bruce, and I’m kool with that because, well, it’s my name and why shouldn’t I be called that? I quite like my name too, so being called it makes sense.
I love being a Dad. I’m not sure that I’m very good at it, though. They say kids can’t comprehend sarcasm. My girls have had to learn. Why, just today, I told them that the water that comes out of the taps on the school campus where we live is recycled rat pee. They drank it anyway. I have a macabre sense of humour. They’ve had to learn to laugh on cue. I fart when they’re in the room. Their husbands will too – I’m just preparing them for the future. I don’t make up “pet” names for our “unmentionables” and we speak openly about these if the topic comes up. Some people might think this is weird but it’s normal for our family.
Truth is, I desire to be a great Dad. It’s hard work. I’m an old dog, set in my ways and, if I don’t learn those “new tricks”, I’ll wake up one day and the Dad and Daughter divide will seem insurmountably large. That’s why I would love to have a DeLorean that travels to a programmed date upon reaching 88 miles per hour: I would set the clock to 2003 and take a stack of post-it notes with me. I’d leave these for the past not-dad-me to find so that the present dad-me would have a headstart.
This is what I would write:
Your girls love hugs. Dish these out often and for no rhyme or reason.
Saying “I love you” a lot does not make it a cliché. They need to hear it, especially when you’re angry.
They need to know that Jesus is more important to you than they are but that your ministry and the church are not.
Be more attentive. Live in the moment. Listen to their words. Hear their hearts.
Say no to more time-sapping things. Some of those meetings did not concern you.
Do not set up email on your phone. People – even the ones who think they’re important enough for an immediate reply – can wait until tomorrow
Smooch Yolanda in front of them. They might say, “that’s gross Dad!” but they love the fact that you love their Mom.
Write more surprise-lunchbox-notes for them. They live for these.
Be more patient. Patience is an expression of love.
Speak about Jesus more. Tell them the story of how your life was transformed by his revolutionary love.
Live authentically for Jesus. They must see that you desire a deeper walk but also that you fail and get things wrong. Let them experience repentance and forgiveness.
Read the Bible with them every night. Talk about why what we read there is relevant for our lives.
Don’t let your cynicism jade their outlook on life. Teach them that faith is being sure of what one cannot see.
Say sorry when you screw up. This will happen often.
Pray for their present and their future. Before you know it, the influences in their lives are out of your control.
Love every minute of every day you spend with them.
I know that I can’t really place post-it notes in the past because DeLoreans can’t really travel through time. When Michael J. Fox did it, it was only a movie. The only thing that can fix the past is prayer. Possibly then, this blog post can be one big-ass post-it note reminder going into tomorrow. If you see me falling short, please give me a kick in the fatherly pants.