I’ve spent the better part
of my adult life looking
for the approval of a man
who’s been dead for almost
— Kyle Bradford
Now it came to pass that Wolf went to the house of his friend John, a carpenter, and said unto him:
“Behold, my son Nick knows naught of tying shoelaces. Therefore make for me a block of wood, and set above it a one-inch dowel of wood, that my son might fasten his shoelace around it, and practice the tying of a bow.”
And John made the device and gave it unto Wolf, and Wolf presented it unto to his son Nick, and Nick said:
“Father, wherefore have you made this device for me? For why should I learn of shoelaces when I have thou to tie them for me?”
And Nick’s father Wolf said unto his son:
“Nick, surely thou shalt wear crocs forevermore, for I have done with the tying of thy shoelaces.”
Apocrypha, The Book of Wolf
Confession: I have complaints about my son. Well, I’m human. Prick me and I bleed. Who doesn’t have complaints about their kids?
In my defense, may I say that for the most part, I take pains to spare Nick my grumbles. Moreover, as an exemplary father, I
never hardly ever only occasionally talk about them to others. For example here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
At least I’m careful about how I air laundry in public. There are many reasons for care, among them that Nick may read it someday. Also, I usually end up embarrassed as source of the problem. All the which causes me to paint my life here if not with a rosy brush, than a somewhat laundered one.
But enough is enough. Let us be serious. There are larger issues at stake: the kid won’t learn to tie his shoes.
‘I can’t teach Nick to tie his shoelaces,” I complained to Jennifer, the mother of Nick’s friend Jay.
In town for work reasons after moving to Portland, she was spending a few days with us.
“It’s Tragic,” she said.
“You’re darn right it is. What do you think I should do?”
“Let Nora handle it.”
“But Nora doesn’t care,” I said.
“Maybe you shouldn’t care.”
It pains me that there are some things admirable people do not understand. One must be patient with them.
“What about Eduardo?” I said. Eduardo is Jay’s dad.
“What about him?”
“Can Eduardo teach things to Jay?”
“No. Jay won’t let him.”
“Why, do you think?”
“Because being good for his dad is too important for Jay to risk by making mistakes.”
The words of Kyle Bradford, Chopper Papa, now inform against me:
I spent the better part of my adult life . . .
The words knot themselves to what Jennifer has just said and tie a bow around me:
Being good for his dad is too important . . .
A relief, it is. It’s not my fault I have trouble teaching Nick. Nick has room only for blessing from his father. A father who doesn’t bless, curses.
I remember one summer in the woods with Bly talking about mentors.
“A father can’t be a mentor to his own boy,” he said flat out.
“Why,” I asked him.
“Too much weight there,” he said. “And for another thing, they’re both interested in the same woman.”
There it is. Bless what I can when I can. Leave the rest. I’ll be damned if I’ll have Nick spending the better part of his adult life looking for approval from me. Enough said.
Which leaves only one question.
How the hell will he learn to tie his shoes?
This is the first part of a two part post. Part 2 next time: Wrestling with Angels
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
The Power of a Father’s Approval. I’ve linked to Kyle Bradford’s post before. It’s worth looking at twice.
Got a teaching story? Just Add Father is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)
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