8/09/2009

The youthful joy of fatherhood

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called honah lee.
...
A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, jackie paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.
--Leonard Lipton & Peter Yarrow
One of the chief glories of fatherhood is that it re-awakens in your soul a joy that has long lain dormant. Young children make grown men behave in ways that they never would otherwise. They make ridiculous noises. They crawl around on all fours. They smile in a giddy way that hasn't been seen on their face since boyhood.

When a boy transitions to manhood, he leaves behind something special. Perhaps more importantly, though, he forgets what he loses.
My boys help me to remember the carefree attitude and wild imagination of youth. Without them I think I would let my infinite seriousness, my consuming drive to make a difference and to know, overwhelm me. But children don't take themselves very seriously. Nor do they take you very seriously. And that can be a great boon, especially if you are tempted to gravity like I am.

Just to be a father is my most serious and most lighthearted calling. That is hard to remember sometimes, but when I am looking with joy into the smiling faces of my children, it is all that I can think about.

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