Archive for June, 2011

On Being a Dad – My Promise to Gracie

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

A father’s job is to protect, encourage and celebrate his children. And on this, of all days, I celebrate my children for they alone make me who I am. Without them I am nothing more than a man, but it is through my children that I aspire to become so much more. You make me a Dad.

Just as the soil to a seed, as a father I’m there to offer you comfort and protection from the winds. As you grow I will offer nutrients, encouragement and a place to develop roots. And as you go out on your own I give you a foundation to branch out as you chose, always aware that I will hold you upright in even the strongest winds and weather. This is my promise to you – this is what fatherhood is all about.

I promise you that as a father my most important legacy is that which I create through you. Once born, my life is not my own, it belongs to you. I promise to be there for you, whether it be for support, praise or understanding. And although you might not listen, or my advice always be desired, I shall always be there to listen, to hold your hand when you stumble. Every action, every aspiration of my own shall be for you. And in the end, my proudest moment shall be when you succeed, which I have no doubt you will.

I promise to teach you integrity and honor. Even when it isn’t convenient I will demonstrate honesty to you in the hopes that you not only carry these ideals as your own but pass them on to your children for generations to come.

I promise to let you be the individual you strive to be, for it is this spirit that I love. I will not stifle, direct or force – instead I will teach, encourage and give you the very best foundation I am able to provide. I promise to be confident in your decisions and your direction, yet still never complacent and never quiet. I am and will always be your father and you expect more from me.

Finally, as your father I promise to offer you the greatest gift of all. That gift is the awareness and confidence to know that you can accomplish the impossible. In the face of every opposition and every challenge I want you to remain steadfast in your faith in yourself and what you can accomplish. I want you to never doubt yourself, your talents and your determination to succeed. And in the background, though I may not always be by your side, I want you to always hear me cheering for you because you are my greatest gift.

You are my daughter. You are my world. I love you.

Gracie’s Rules

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

“Clock tower beats toilet,” she says. “But what about a late man? He can turn back the clock and hit the toilet with a hammer,” her friend says. “One, two, three – SHOOT!”

The last time I played with Gracie I had the pleasure of being introduced to Gracie Rules. Unimaginable to the creators of Uno, she had formed her own unique structure of rules by which no one could win but her. I saw a red “+2”. She saw an opportunity. “Dad, that means you have to draw two and I get to get rid of two,” she said. “Then you have to press the Uno button twice.” Out shot another six cards to add to my stack. I tried to argue but she would have none of that. “Dad – I KNOW the rules. I played this with Grandma,” she said. That about makes sense, I thought. Grandma cheats too. I checked the rules only to suddenly remember that the game was called “uno.” Of course it could have also been called “un” because in checking the rules all I could find were the Spanish and French translations. And there was no way I remember either from high school language classes. We played on. She played a card with an arrow and the number two. “That means I get to discard all my cards except two,” she added. Clearly there was no chance I could win.

Tonight as we drive home Gracie’s playing rock, paper, scissors with her friend in the backseat. Only this time, I guess it is called “clock tower, toilet and late man.” Even the simplest games take on new meaning when you play against Gracie. Thankfully her friend is no different. He’s eight too and making up your own rules is a rite of passage. Probably comes with attitude.

Gracie wins again – that’s at least what she tells him. He’s getting visibly upset now. I know how he feels. “What about the bomb?” he asks while making an upside down explosion sign with his left hand. “That’s what this means and a bomb beats the clock tower.” “No, no, no,” Gracie replies, “that’s why I did the sign for a man eating bug. A bug lives through the bomb and wins.” I look back. Her hand motion looks mighty like a clock tower if you ask me. Her friend folds his arms in a huff. I agree with him here too. If I had a bomb, I’d be a bit upset by getting beat by a bug – or a red “+2” card.

Finally my wife is the voice of reason. “Yeah, but I had a toddler eating chalk,” she says while making a motion with her hand to her mouth. “And you know a toddler can mess up everything.” OK, maybe not the way I would approach it, but it had a chance. His hands unfold and they’re at it again, this time with a common enemy in mom and her toddler eating chalk. Suddenly the rules change again and the game plays on. Gracie’s way – Gracie’s rules.