Father Forgets

Life experiences.. the small ones. They are so dear… but how do we respond?

I have witnessed such joy yesterday. My daughter lost her first tooth. She has wanted this for the past 3 months. Funny. All her friends had been loosing their teeth. And as peer can influence, she had been waiting for the first tooth to wiggle.
Well, yesterday it came. She arrived home after a day of school with an electric buzz! “Dad, LOOK, LOOK. My tooth! It came out!!!” We celebrated. Then as tradition goes, we put the tooth in the “tooth box and tooth pillow”. The tooth fairy would arrive! Four shiny quarters for the first tooth was the bounty.
May-Sept 2008 242.jpg
Well I woke this morning, when to my office. Turned on my computers, configured my trading screens, and was listening to a few podcasts. In walks my daughter… a frown upon her face.
“Good morning Sweetie, did the ToothFairy come?”, I beamed.
“yeah…”, she said as she frowned.
I inquired, “What seems to be the trouble?”, “Did she leave you anything?”
“YEAH… but it wasn’t a toy…” She said in a pout, that only a 6 year old can make.
“Well, you can buy a toy! Any toy you like with your quarters.”
I laughed inside. It was pretty darn funny. Fortunately I have been reading or listening “Father Forgets” by W. Livingston Larned for the past 9 years. It has keeps me tempered in my responses (for the most part) with my children. I wanted to share this on my blog because it has influenced me to such a large degree. (AUDIO FILE)
Here is the script, I hope it influences your relationship with others… enjoy!

Father Forgets

Listen, son; I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.
There are things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road, I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before you boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive – and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterward that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – this was my reward to your for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!
It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!”
I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

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