My oldest doesn’t call me daddy very often anymore. Since he’s now a big boy, it’s usually just dad. Last night, however, I got a surprise daddy while we were saying good night. For his entire life, I’ve sung songs to him at bedtime. Obviously for the last three years, it’s mostly been over the phone, but it has remained our tradition as often as we get to talk, usually three to four nights a week. Over the last couple of years, he has been singing songs back to me, sometimes accompanying me, sometimes by himself. Recently, he has begun making up his own songs, usually about his favorite video game or a new episode of Spongebob that he’s seen, and there simply aren’t words for how much I enjoy listening to him. My only complaint is that I don’t get to share this with my youngest as well, but at four, he’s going through a phase of not wanting to talk on the phone.
At first last night, Collin said he didn’t want to sing himself because he was tired and wanted to finish watching House of Inubis, but when I started to say good night, he acted disappointed that we were hanging up, so I asked him again. Once more, he said no at first but then said, “Okay, I’ll sing three songs.” Whenever he finishes one of his original compositions, he always asks what I thought of it, and I always offer him praise. While his voice isn’t yet melodic, he has innate musical talent, and I very much want to encourage and nurture that. He’s also a very sensitive child who needs positive reinforcement much more than criticism, so whenever possible, I tell him good things about himself.
When he finished his second song, he asked, “Did you like that song, Daddy?” There was something in the tone of how he asked the question that overcame me. In his little six year old voice, I heard how vulnerable and sensitive he really is. I also heard just how much my opinion means to him. Every instinct and every cell of my being wanted to hug him and reassure him that he is a good kid who is smart and talented and special. I wanted him to see the love in my eyes and feel the security of my embrace the same as I felt when my father comforted me. The only thing I had to offer was my voice, so I said, “I loved it, son. You’re awesome.”
I’m not certain that he felt all that I wanted him to feel, but I did my best. He’s such an amazing guy with so much possibility, but I see his self-doubts and uncertainties, and I know those feelings all too well. I would give anything and everything to take those feelings from him and replace them with strength and self-confidence. The man he can be has more potential than I ever had. He has so much charisma and magnetism, so much creativity and imagination, so much physical and inner beauty. His possibilities are boundless. My hope is that I can help to instill in him the self-esteem and confidence to see those possibilities. My hope is that he can have what I never did–a positive sense of self-worth that allows him to face the world with courage and determination.