“Don’t talk to strangers” is something we tell all of our kids and something that was told to all of us as kids. Thus, I find it ironic that this very habit seems to be taking up some significant time in my life recently.
In just last week’s post I used the phrase, “…even your best intentions can have the complete opposite outcome of what you planned.” At the time I was talking about teaching my 4-year-old to use the remote control backfiring on me because of his resulting DVR obsession, but now I’m using that same phrase to describe one of my favorite side effects of blogging – strangers.
Specifically, dad strangers.
I’ll be honest, my foray into writing stemmed from two things – my obsession with reading and my propensity for the epic email. I’ve probably read a little bit before bed nearly every night since I was in 7th grade, and anyone who knows me can confirm what is universally known as a “Marmo email.” Matched by only a few others that I know, the Marmo email is a very effective weapon in the war against poor sports’ arguments put forth by friends, political debates with colleagues, and closing business deals with hard to reach executives.
So, with those two things as inspiration, I figured I would try my hand at blogging and see what happened. One thing that did happen, something that I never expected and was the complete opposite of what I intended, was meeting and appreciating other dads. I never doubted that they were out there, but until you engage with them your brain doesn’t really think beyond that simple fact. They are out there, done…now what’s for dinner?
But once you engage you realize that there are other dads in this world, those who are complete strangers to you, that tear up over the simple act of their kid jumping off the bed into their arms first thing in the morning, just like you do. That they think passionately about what they would really do if anyone ever intentionally hurt any of their children, just like you do.
I’ve always known that my day-to-day friends who are dads think this way, otherwise they wouldn’t be my friends, but to know that complete strangers are this way was a pleasant surprise. Sometimes you can slip and let yourself believe that the world is made up of the people you see on local news or read about online. Thankfully this is not the case at all.
Great parents exist all across this planet, and as a dad myself, I’m happy to realize that great dads exist as well. So far in my brief writing career I’ve met dads that play guitar with their kids, dressed up as Super Mario for their birthday, coach/attend their soccer games, stay at home while their wives bring home the bacon, recreate their family in Lego character videos, exercise and get back in shape in the name of their kids, and most importantly – love their kids as madly as I love mine.
While deep down I’m not surprised by their existence, I’m definitely supported by their actions.
Keep it up dads. You inspire me not only to continue writing and make an effort to meet and engage new people, but more importantly you inspire me to continue being the best dad that I can be.
This post was inspired by my friend Chris, otherwise known as Canadian Dad. I’ve never met him personally, but this open letter to his daughter on her 2nd birthday tells me all I need to know. Thanks for the inspiration Chris.
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 5/5/12.