I’m not going to lie about how I’m doing a bang up job raising my son. I’m not going to make it look like I should be the next in line for father of the year. I’m not even going to say I should be mentioned in the same sentence with other great dads out there doing their thing, because I know I have a long way to go in order to be considered a great dad.
What I am going to say is, my son is doing a great job of teaching me how to be a better dad. It’s the small things he does that helps me realize I don’t always have to be perfect to be a good dad. I don’t always have to make sure to spend every waking hour with him for him to know I love him because he’ll let me know when I’m needed and when I’m not. He’s teaching me that spending quality time with him is what he expects and what he enjoys.
Recently I started taking banjo lessons and with these lessons I also have to practice at home (my wife hates this by the way). I can’t practice after he goes to bed because I’ll wake him, so instead I practice for small bits of time, either before dinner or right after, while he does some playing with mom. He doesn’t always pay attention to me practicing, but sometimes he’ll come over while I’m tuning up and want to strum a few times just to hear the banjo before turning his attention back to his trains or soccer ball and letting me get back to practicing.
Well the other day, after I began and he ran off, he came back and pulled up his chair in front of me. I didn’t think anything of it and continued to practice. Then he came waddling back carrying his ukulele and tried to climb into his chair. I stopped, helped him into his seat, and went back to my banjo. After strumming a few chords I heard him plucking and singing. I looked up and he had a big smile on his face and plucked the strings again. He was wanting to play music with me and it made my heart full.
We played for close to ten minutes together. Him flailing his arms and hitting the strings anyway he could, and me struggling to learn an instrument I know nothing about. But it was in this moment when I realized being perfect isn’t what I need to be for him. It was on this day I realized what it takes to be a better dad and what I need to strive for. It is just being a good example of how to enjoy the small things and to cherish the times in our life when it’s nothing more than two boys playing their instruments and struggling to make music.