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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Think with your heart

Dear Michael,

Well, it finally happened. When you were young, I made a prediction to everyone that would listen about the things your teachers would say to me. I said that the conversations would go something like this: "Mr. Wilson, we absolutely love your son: he's so bright and charming, and he has such a good heart. Now...if only we could get him to not talk so much and try to teach the class." I'm both proud, and a bit troubled, that my prediction has come to pass. Proud because of the man you are becoming, and troubled because the next prediction I made was that we were going to have to dig a moat around our house to keep all the girls away. As usual, I want to start my letter off by sharing a quote with you:

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart”   -  Helen Keller

It's a funny thing how life sometimes provides you with just what you need when you least expect it. Over the past couple of weeks, I was struggling a little bit coming up with something that I wanted to share with you in my next letter. I have a lot to say, as anyone who knows your dad - or you for that matter - can tell you, but sometimes I struggle with the words to make it meaningful to you as you read these sometime in the future.

Then...the universe provided.

Last Saturday, you and I went on one of our daddy/son day that you earn when you earn your stickers in school for good work and behavior. Because you earned all 5 this past week, I let you choose what we did. This particular week, you chose to go to a movie and, I have to say, I was really looking forward to it. As many things as we have done together, we hadn't yet gone to a movie...probably because I was worried that you'd just talk through the whole thing until you fell asleep. So, as excited as you were to go...I was probably a little more excited.

We got to the theater, bought our tickets, and headed over to the concession stand to get the hot dog and fruit punch that you had not stopped talking about since we left the house. As we walked in, you saw one of the video games in the lobby and decided that you had to immediately investigate. Unfortunately, your feet didn't get the message in time, and you ended up tripping and falling on your knee. As you did, another man was walking our way with his son on their way to watch the movie they had come to see. After you fell, I knelt down to make sure that you were okay, which you were, and try to calm you down. I looked at you, told you to look in my eyes, and said, "Mymy...you're okay", and  scooped you up and gave you a hug.

As I held you, the man walking past decided to offer me a parenting tip. He stopped and said, "You know, if you keep doing that, he's going to keep crying and not know how to take care of himself." For a split second, about 25 responses came to mind - none of which are appropriate to write down. Anyone who knows me and the type of father I try to be, knows that it completely irritates me when someone just assumes that I don't know what I am doing when it comes to raising you. I don't...but I don't like it when someone else points it out. So, as I'm standing there with you in my arms and this other father standing there, I said the only thing that I could think to say, "My son will always know his father's love," and then walked away to get your hot dog and fruit punch and go see our movie.

That encounter started me thinking about what it was that I was teaching you about emotions and how we relate with one another. Was he right? Was I somehow crippling you by being overly protective and teaching you that someone is always going to be there to take care of you?

No...of course not!

You're four years old, and it is so important for you, at this age, to know your father's love and to see what love looks like. So many young children today are growing up without a father in their lives, or knowing a father's love, and that is something that I will never let happen to you.

Son, part of what it means to be a man is knowing when to think with your head and when to think with your heart...and not letting the world tell you that thinking with your heart somehow makes you weak or less of a man. Being able to reach out, to connect with people, and to see the world in a way that can't be seen or touched like you do is a strength, and something that not everyone experiences in their lives. Cherish it...embrace it...be guided by it. Above all, do not ever be afraid to let other people see that side of you because you never know when someone you touch might change your life - or when you might make the difference in theirs.

Oh...before I end this, let me share with you one last thing. After the movie, as we were leaving the theater, you pulled my hand and said, "daddy, look. My new friend hurt his knee, too!" I turned to see what you were talking about, and saw the man from before. He was holding his son, who was crying, and hugging him and patting him on the back. When he looked up and saw us looking, he smiled and nodded at me, giving his son a squeeze. I smiled and nodded back, then took your hand to cross the street to head out on the next destination on our daddy/son day. Was it because of the words I spoke that that happened? I don't know, but if it was...what would have happened had I not spoken them?

More later!

Love,

Your dad.