Listening to a Great Day
It was a great day. It was 6:30PM on Sunday. We had
returned from a graduation party about an hour away
and all three girls had fallen asleep in the van
and were continuing their nap in the living room.
My wife had to go into work to deliver a baby. It
was just me and my seven year-old son, Noah.
Noah asked me what I had planned for the rest of
the day. I had a huge list. The kitchen was a mess;
the garage needed to be organized; the van needed
to be cleaned inside and out; the main floor had to
be tidied and I still hadnt found the source
of that smell.
Ive got some cleaning to do, I
said. What do you have in mind?
I thought we could go outside and
tracking down the source of
an unpleasant odor in the basement or playing
outside with my son. Easy call.
Thats a great idea. But first, why
dont we look online and find a place to go
camping this summer, just you and me.
Okay! Can we go fishing, too?
Once we had found a great campground with
fishing and teepees to rent, I headed upstairs to
change out of my Sunday-Go-To-Meetin clothes
and into something designed to get dirty.
Thats when Noah started talking about his
friends and why he gets upset when one friend is
mean to another. Being the teacher and ever
diligent dad, I immediately saw this as a teaching
opportunity. I was prepared to show he could deal
with some of the conflicts he faced with his
friends. I asked him if he knew what it meant to be
He looked at me with a hello, duh
face and said, It means I get upset when my
friends get hurt.
From then on, I just shut up and listened. He
didnt need guidance from his wise father. He
needed to be listened to from his silent father. He
needed nothing more than to know that what he said
was important to me. Was it ever. He talked about
his favorite movies and how there are more sharks
killed by people than the other way around. He
talked about Godzilla and how his favorite monster
all of them. He talked about his faith in
God (which dwarfs mine) and about the gifts God has
given to him (jumping really high). He talked about
his friends who dont believe in God and how
he hoped that they would some day. He talked about
fishing and how cool it would be when we went
Before long, the sun went down and it was time
for bedtime. I was expecting some disappointment
when I told him that we would not be able to play
outside, but there was none. Apparently, he saw how
special our chat was, too.
Nothing Noah talked about was new or earth
shattering. I didnt learn anything new about
him. I hope he learned again that I think he is the
* * *
Women, it's true, make human beings, but
only men can make men. - Margaret Mead
Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance
writer. Along with raising his four children, he is
developing a franchise called The Vacuum IS a
Power Tool. It is designed to help SAHDs
maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy
Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in
Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching
certificates in English, public speaking, and
psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After
six years as a high school English teacher and
Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High
School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and
became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. www.TheVacuumIsAPowerTool.com
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