“Dad! Dad!” “Dadda!” “Daddy!” “Pop!” “Poppy!”
Those words can have different meanings or intentions. Tone, time of day, rep count can all bias how you answer those calls. It’s easy to take some for granted. Or be too dismissive or over reactive. Those simple words can mean,
“Check this out”
“You’re embarrassing me”
“I miss you”
“I love you”
I’ve told my eldest that the worst day of my life started with “Daddy! Daddy! My arm!” He was playing basketball, tripped, and landed on his arm. I could tell instantly by his “Daddy! Daddy!” that something was wrong. He brought me a mangled elbow and my heart sank. I wasn’t worried about the break, or getting to the hospital, or living in the most medically privileged time and place on earth. I just felt helpless that my son was calling out to me and I couldn’t do anything to help with his fear and pain. I was heartbroken that he wouldn’t be able to play, pluck his guitar, or paddle around on his surf board. (He was just getting the surfing thing the day before his break). My response was just to remain calm and talk him through what amounted to the next 3.5 months of his life. As expected, everything turned out fine.
It’s been about four months since the break, and we’ve been back to doing our Daddy Kamp thing. I know I’ve written about daddy selfishness and how my surf time is my alone time. But since it’s summer, we’ve been to the ocean as a family a lot. And Logan has been slowly getting back into the water. A few days ago, I was watching Thomas boogie board in the shallows when I heard “Daddy! Daddy!”. I turned around just in time to see Logan size up a wave, paddle on his own, catch it, and ride it. When he finally got off the board after his ride, his face was beaming. I waded over and gave him a big hug and told him that was easily one of the best moments of my life.
I’m going to try not to take for granted each call and response that will make up the music of our lives. I will make sure my own calls are not always calls-to-chores or calls-to-discipline but sometimes calls-to-fun or calls-to-affection. I will also try to savor each response and make music as long as we can.
In Memoriam: The father of a dear friend of ours passed away a few days ago. My friend is expecting his own newborn son in a few weeks. It seems sad and unfair that the grandson and grandfather won’t share a moment together, but they are part of the same song. A call and response that will be tied together by somebody I’m sure will be a great father.
RIP Mr. Q. I never met you. Or I kind of did, once. I was working with your son outside your house one day and I heard your voice.
Father: “M-! M-! Is that you?”
Son: “Yes dad, it’s me!”
Father: “M-! M-!”
Your son went in to see you. And I could tell by the tone of your call that you were so happy to see your son. It was obvious that each time you said his name, you meant “I love you!” May your music live on with him and your grandson.