29 January 2011
I recently spoke to a young friend who was in the midst motherly anger and hurt. She and her children were visiting a relative (male) who informed her that her 10 year old wasn't "tough enough". The reasons? He has a soft heart, likes hugs, and will gladly occupy your lap for a season. This turned into a diatribe, in full hearing of the child, who was doing his best to hold back his tears. Of course she was angry. First of all, what mother doesn't want their children to love hugs, and cuddles. To launch into this attack in front of the child only made it that much worse. No kid deserves to be kicked in the gut that way. Especially by someone they should be able to look up to and admire. My husband generally likes the person who was complaining about the child. He was confused and disheartened by the other man's attitude. As far as the Mr is concerned there is nothing below par about this child. He enjoys his company and looks forward to him being around. All of this got me thinking and remembering. When this child was a toddler he enjoyed following my Dad around the house. Mom had passed away and Dad would spend the night with us from time to time. The little one would be with me when his parent's shifts overlapped. He thought it was his job to make sure Dad knew when dinner was ready. If Dad wasn't there, he wanted to know why. My father was accomplished at many types of things. Among other things Dad rebuilt one private plane, built another from the ground up and aquired an experimental license for it. From the first sign of fall his woodshop turned into a northpole annex. Just the type of guy you would expect to most admire "men's men". Someone who would think soft-spoken men were not up to par. Not so. One of the men my father most admired was all of 5' 3". Bart was soft spoken, kind and always ready with a smile and hug. Bart was not a pushover, as his children will attest. Certain things were expected, but a look or quiet word from him was usually sufficient to ensure behaviors were modified. When their youngest child was in high school Bart and Jean accepted the responsibility of fostering an infant and toddler for a time. Bathing the babies was one of his joys. A time to relax and wonder at the resilience and happiness of a child who is warm, safe and loved. It wasn't unusual to find Bart in posession of someone's infant at church. Walking to and fro softly crooning. A voice for the ages that only a few were priveleged to know because instead of pursuing music he became a physical therapist. My father told us on many occasions that there are things other than size and strength that make a "big man". Kindness, humor and love were more important. As far as Dad was concerned Bart was one of the "biggest" men he knew. For me there will always be another quality that makes a big man. That is the ability to recognize another.