Butt-kicking

(From a FB post from two years ago)

Being a great dad is about many things. And as much as we love the hugs and pats-on-the-back, often it’s the kicks-in-the-butt that teach us the most.

The year I spent in England between high school and college was the most transformative of my life. It taught me so much – confidence, self-reliance, how to travel, how to adapt to new and unfamiliar places and situations, not being afraid to try. And to accept when I failed.

Sometime during that year, there was an evening when I was on duty as the senior prefect. I was supposed to check in the young boys after study hall, but that conflicted with some TV show from America that I was dying to see – my once-a-week escape from my life amongst the mass of frequently-cruel English school-boys. The senior boy of my house called me out for it (as he should have done). That evening I told my parents about it in my nightly journal entry, which I sent home weekly, voicing my anger and indignation. How dare this boy keep me from my escape! I mailed the letter the next day and awaited a return letter from home.

When a letter from my dad arrived a week or so later, I eagerly opened it, barely being able to contain my anticipation of his inevitable sharing of my anger and indignation. Instead, what I got was a written butt-kicking. He flat-out agreed with the senior boy. In fact, he said that whatever calling-out the senior boy did was not enough. He reminded me of my obligation and responsibility. And that when you have that type of duty and responsibility, it comes first, before whatever thing you might otherwise want to do or feel entitled to do.

After the shock of reading this began to subside, I slowly understood what he meant and why he wrote it. I know that he and my mom were acutely aware of how home-sick I was, and how much I thought I needed a “hug” from home in that letter. But instead he gave what HE knew I REALLY needed – a kick in the butt.

That episode has stuck me with ever since, and I know that it has helped to make me who I am way more than some placating hug could have. That’s what makes an amazing dad – the ability to know when to back-pat and when to butt-kick. Thank you Dad, for being such an amazing dad! Happy Father’s Day!!

Published by Toes in the Sand

Travel-loving architect, self-proclaimed foodie and future retired beach-bum who is a spouse, brother and son of English teachers, hoping to share thoughts, memories and musings with anyone who is interested, curious or bored.

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