Chapter 2 – The importance of a Papa
My parents have been divorced since I was a small child. For a good portion of my life I was raised by a single mother and lived with my grandparents. That time with my grandparents is something that I will always hold close to my heart. My grandfather was my hero. He showed me how to work hard, fix things, and be the man of the house. He would take me to the local Italian American club where he would go to play boccia ball and play cards. He would let me roll the boccia balls with his friends and then order me a soda and some food. He was my example of what a man was like, how they acted, and how they treated their family. It was what I needed as a kid because every kid needs a dad. Now, my dad was around but I didn’t see him very often. He would come pick me up a weekend here a weekend there but when you’re a boy, that’s not enough.
I didn’t see my dad much but to me he was superman. I couldn’t wait for him to pick me up. I looked forward to the car ride together when we could just be together and talk. Sometimes we would go to my grandparent’s house and other times we would drive to Vermont to visit my uncle. It didn’t matter. I was with my dad.
Being a Papa is the most important job a man can have. That’s not my opinion, that is a fact. You have been given the task of molding and shaping a young mind. For the rest of their lives they will base their idea of how a man is supposed to act, communicate, treat a woman, treat others, smell, look like, all on you. Yes, I said smell. I can still remember what my grandfather smelled like. I can see him splashing Old Spice on in the mirror every morning as he was getting ready. Grandfather’s smell like Old Spice. You are their example and most times they only get one. You will forever be the definition of a “man”. Do not take that responsibility lightly. Whether you have a daughter or a son, that impression can determine future success, confidence, positive relationships, and even marriage. There is a lot at stake here.
Remember this when you choose Netflix over playing with your child. Remember this when you choose to swipe incessantly on your phone or google nonsensical subjects for hours on end. They are watching. They are taking mental notes that will never be erased. They assume that all fathers spend hours consuming technology and staring at a screen. They assume that this is normal behavior and when they ask for help or just want to hang out, the iPhone comes first. I see this all around me every day. I see technology raising children. Instead of having a conversation with their child, a phone is handed to them to keep them quite and busy. Instead of playing outside they are stuck in front of a movie to keep them occupied and to keep you from having to detach from whatever it is you are doing. They are watching your every move and will someday emulate it. Tread lightly.
Coming from a broken home I remember wanting to learn certain things that my mother just couldn’t teach me. She did her best but they were things that she just didn’t know how to do. I wanted to build things, and fix things, play rough, wrestle, and play baseball all the time. That’s what Dads are for (I know some moms do these things to). I envied the kids that were able to see their fathers all the time and I knew that I never wanted what I had, for my family when I became a man.