And so I stand back and regard him as a man and I have to say I'm proud of his empathy for others, his sharp intellect, his wicked sense of humour, his faith, his brilliant people skills (he didn't get them from me!). And in reflecting, it shows me that there are many things I don't regret doing over the last 18 years of my role as a Dad.
My non-regrets include:
- reading to and with him at bedtime several times a week until well into childhood
- putting work aside to watch him do something or tell me something
- putting work and self-interest aside to play with him
- initiating him into manhood over the year between his 13th and 14th birthdays, with the help of some incredibly generous and wise other men (see http://freakedoutfathers.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/sydney-trip-nov-2012.html)
- listening to him when he was trying to tell me that he was too old for things like bedtime stories
- praying with him whenever he faced a challenge...and often when he didn't
- teaching him to tithe part of his pocket money (which was given to charity) until he was 14
- having that birds-and-bees talk (that had me crapping my pants)
- teaching him to have faith, demonstrating that faith, but allowing him to question it and come at it his own way (Thank God for wise mentors for me in this regard)
- paying for sports he never stuck at, buying him musical instruments (which he did stick at), taking him to interesting places
- answering his questions after taking them seriously
- wrestling with him and giving him hugs
- tuning in to his sense of humour and opinions
My one main regret is the times I missed the opportunity to do any of the above. If I had my time over, I'd do more of that.
But it's interesting isn't it, that the things we focus on in the here-to-now (that report that needs
writing, that guy that wants to catch up for a coffee, that project we think will change the course of our destiny, that home improvement we think will make us look better to others) have so little eternal value?
Anything we do that is for and with and because of our children, is an investment. It stands the test of time. And it bears good fruit in the real world as they go on to perpetuate goodness on Planet Earth.
Live long and live large, son. It's been an awesome ride and I'm excited to see where you take your life from here.