During one of his comedy specials Bill Cosby tells a story of a football player’s journey to the big time. His dad gets him started early by buying a football for his bassinet and teaching him how to tackle at two. Dad comes home from work to play catch with him, to teach him footwork, to show him training techniques. Dad coaches his pee-wee teams until he goes to high school and continues to encourage him when he gets a scholarship to a college with a big football program. One day his college team plays on national television and he makes the big play, so big that the camera comes up behind him on the bench for a closeup. Dad swells with pride as his son turns around, looks right into the camera, waves and mouths, “Hi Mom!”
We dads of kids who do not play major college football know this on a smaller scale as well. When our children are hurt or sick, all the love and care we can give pales in comparison to what Mom can do. If Mom is away on a business trip, calling her brings more comfort than all the bandaids we offer. When we decide to cook dinner our son may ask, “Does mom know you’re doing that?” After we give our permission for a sleepover, our daughter will say, “Maybe I should ask mom.” We Dads simply don’t have that kind of authority.
Our authority rests in unclogging toilets, hanging shelves, loaning the car, and doling out money. Our role is not as one who gets top billing in the family, but rather as one of those whose name crawls across the screen toward the end of the credits. What is a key grip anyway? I don’t know, but they seem to need one in every movie.
Fellow Dads, I can assure you that you have a huge, albeit often behind-the-scenes, influence on your children. The statistics are staggering. We add stability and security to the home that helps our children grow up healthy and strong, and stay away from trouble. When we are engaged in our daughters’ lives they are less likely to get involved in inappropriate dating relationships. When we lead spiritually, simply by going to church, our children are more likely to have a committed spiritual life when they are grown.
Dads, our families need us. You and I may not get the glory, but we matter. Our influence in our family is far greater than any accomplishment at work, any salary we aspire to, any recognition we might receive. Our best investment in the future of our family is not our IRA, but time right now.
So Dad, this weekend we celebrate you for all the stuff we did not have recognize as it was happening. We thank you for the time you spent teaching us how to tackle, how to hit a baseball, and learning soccer so that you could coach our team. We thank you for fishing excursions, hunting trips, and motorcycle rides. We thank you for fixing flat tires on bicycles, helping with homework, and allowing us to hold the light so that we could learn about car maintenance by watching you. We thank you for nights on the couch watching tv, around the dining room table playing cards as a family, and at twilight playing catch after an exhausting 10-hour work day. (All of the above are examples from my Dad). We thank you for the groundwork you laid to help us be good fathers to your grandkids and good husbands to your daughters-in-law. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
“Hi Dad!” and thanks. Happy Fathers Day.