lawnmowerI was putting away the laundry upstairs when I heard W talking to Lolly down in the dining room.

“This is my father’s map. He gave it to my mama when I was a baby and she gave it to me.” I could hear the surprise in my Mom’s voice but she joined in his conversation with a simple, “let’s look at the map.” (it was just a simple print out of directions to an event, by the way)

W’s been tossing out that word “father” into conversations a few times lately. I have to wonder if it is because he is working on figuring out what it means and more specifically what it means to him.

Every day after school we spend just over an hour at his school’s vibrant and wonderful playground. We have become really close to many of the families that come. One of those families also has a daughter a year older than W and a son two years younger than W. Their dad is the one that does school drop off, pick up, and playground. There are two girls in W’s class that also have a father that often does drop off, pick up, and playground.

So this is pretty much W’s most direct connection with the notion of father. It’s the name of a parent. At the playground parents have no names. You are [child’s name]’s mom/dad.

But I am paying attention. I am waiting for the moment when W realizes that he is missing something from his equation. There are plenty of other single parent families at W’s school but everyone has someone that they can claim as a father. Obviously throughout W’s life there will be many moments of have and have nots. W gets to live with his Grandmother. I think that is pretty special and lucky. Not every kid is that lucky.

The father element is a puzzle piece that isn’t simply missing with W, it never existed in the first place.

I am realizing as he gets older that it isn’t my job or my place to try and fill the gap. Instead I want to make sure I model what it is to be a good parent, a good person. I want to point out other girls and boys that make great choices. I want to surround him with adults that are positive and kind. Adults that can express themselves well, even their frustrations and sadness, are people that I want W to know. These will be the shapers. These will be the ones that will help complete who W will become.

At the end of the day W is holding the map. All I can do is help him read it, keep it from getting damaged, and help him plan for adventures to come.

(the photo is from earlier this week when all the kids sat down with one of the playground dads to watch the field get mowed)

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