Dear Atticus, on being a boy part II

Mike has offered to write a few letters, too. Here’s his first offering.

Childhood 006

Dear Atticus,

I am a boy. Just like you. I’ve played Cowboys and Indians. I’ve played Cops and Robbers. I’ve had my shares of scrapes and bruises from doing boy things, which really just means I acted before thinking through my decisions. I’ve been in just one fist fight, but it is one that I won, and it was for the very noble reason of defending your uncle’s honor. One boy thing that I’ve not done yet is to have broken a bone; I wish the same for you.

So when I write what it means to be a boy, I have a little authority. Like your mother believes she was not good with being a girl and liking girl things, I have my own insecurities about whether I am good at being a boy. I am definitely not a boy boy. I have always been a quiet, observing, introspective, shy, and sensitive boy. I get intimidated easily around boy boys. It is hard for me when talking sports with these boy boys who can spout out stats and players’ names for every one of their teams for the last 20 years. I have a hard time just knowing my team’s win-loss record (and if you are a Panthers fan you don’t even bother to remember that).

Your mom mentioned that in order to be a boy, you must first learn what it means to be a human being; to be a decent person who is respectful, compassionate, and loving—just to name a few traits. But as we are teaching you these important virtues, I want to help you learn about the virtues of boyhood like adventure, chivalry, honor, and courage. There were way too many times when my timidity prevented me from taking those adventures I needed to embark upon.

Son, I want you to find those moments in your life where you feel truly alive, like you can conquer the world. I have felt those moments and they have come when I was courageous and I let my spirit of adventure carry me. Those moments did not come by not participating. I had to take risks.

Marrying your mom was a risk because I had to choose between what was right and what was easy. The day your mother and I married is one of those mountaintop moments. When I share with you the lovely story of how we met, I think you will know I made the right decision. Then there was my decision to go back to college after ten years off school that petrified me, but again, and you will notice a theme, it provided me the chance to challenge myself and grow into a more confident man. I also went on a most amazing sea turtle-saving trip that helped me face many of my fears head-on during my college years.

Now I am about to embark on the most difficult quest. I am about to take on the challenge of raising you. I took the courageous step of giving up what I know to be safe, and now I am allowing you to come into my life and into my heart. I know I will love you with a love that can only be described in the same vein as God’s love for me. I knew before I knew of you that you would cause me pain, yet I still needed you in my life and I wanted you in my life because I needed to give to you and receive from you this unconditional love.

You are my greatest adventure and I will encourage you to be the boy I know you can be. This does not mean you have to be fearless, but courageous, stepping out in spite of those fears.

Love,
Dad

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