Watch where you sit on the first day of school. You might be sitting next to your new best friend or your maid of honor. It happened to me it can happen to you.
As the school year begins for me and my new charges, I am reminded of that fateful day that I met my first best friend, Jackie. I was new to Brooklyn, New York and it was unlike any place that I had ever been before. Everyone looked like me. What a novelty. No one looked like me in Toronto, Canada at the time. Unfortunately, no one sounded like me in Brooklyn that day in 1971.
I had shown up that day in my prettiest dress and my white hair ribbons. My fellow classmates gazed back at me in jeans, t-shirts, and Chuck Taylors. When the teachers introduced me to the class, everyone gaped at me. Not a good start by any means. But, to add insult to injury I opened my mouth and believe me Brooklyn did not come out. It could have been a miserable time except for the kindness of friends. I met one of my dearest lifelong friends on that day, and it has made all the difference in my world. Love you, Jackie. Always will.
As time goes by, I am amazed of the effect that a good role model can have in a child’s life. Children, adolescents, and grown people are the product of two guardians committing to there well being. I recently heard a quote from a father lamenting his absence from his children’s lives during WWII. He went on to say that half the job of being a father was just providing warm houses, placing shoes on feet, providing hot dinners, and just showing up. This idea of just being present resonated with me. I realized that what I treasured most about my father was the time he gave to me. I remember the early homework sessions, the shared stories, and the day I thought my heart would burst with happiness. My best friend Tracey and I were jumping rope in the driveway with a bunch of neighborhood kids. My parents arrived home and parked on the street so that we could continue jumping. My dad set down his bag of groceries and jumped into our turning rope. I was stunned and delighted. That day has been etched in my mind as one of the happiest times of my life. I wondered why this memory still seems so clear. While it is wrapped in a color washed patina, it is still filled with all of the scents, light, and joy of that day. I think I understand now. Time is a precious commodity. It is the most valuable thing we have to sell in this life. When men shower their attention and love on a child, the child is enriched and made important in their world. They are validated by the unspoken approval given when a parent deems them worthy of time and consideration. Men so often are absent. We expect them to be men and provide in acceptable venues. We question their manliness if they do not bring home considerable “bacon”. I believe that men bring a more valuable currency to the family. They bring their time and energy. That is what will change lives, our planet, and our children. Time spent versus money spent is what we should measure a successful man by. Any boy can have a paper route…it takes a man to raise a family.