I dropped little Mitch off at school. He had an electric scooter parked in his classroom so he could keep up with friends at recess or make a journey down the school’s halls, but he could still walk short distances. I was grateful for every step he took – for it could have been worse. Much worse.
I loved taking Mitch places, even to school. Maybe I loved it because of the conversations we had … or maybe it was just because of the way he held my hand. Though I was his father and wanted to bring him comfort, the truth was, he brought me comfort, too. Sometimes I think he did more for me than I ever did for him. No, I know that’s true.
Mitch began to walk toward the building with a backpack stuffed with homework, a peanut butter & jelly sandwich lovingly made by his mother, and a few treasures he liked to keep near him. At one point, he turned his head slightly to see if I was still there. I unrolled my window and yelled out, “Hi Mitch! You can do it! I love you!” I wanted him to know I was watching out for him; that I had his back, his front, and his sides. I wanted my child to know I believed in him. Natalie taught me how to do that, and I am forever grateful.
It didn’t take long before little Mitch began talking to a classmate before their teacher came to get them at the first bell. I stayed a while and wondered what my son was talking about. I always listened carefully to what children had to say, for their words were a window to their soul and I couldn’t help but try to look in. Perchance, I might get a glimpse of heaven. For of such, children are.
Little Mitch kept looking at me and smiling, each time my heart melted, and I thought myself the luckiest guy on earth. Without question, being a father has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for all the riches of earth.
No matter where Mitch went, I wanted him to know I was cheering him on. And when he didn’t know how to do a thing, I always tried to show him.
I think the most important gift we can give our children, and others, is belief-in-self. I don’t mean a grandiose, false bravado; I mean a quiet kind of confidence where they can stumble and get back up again and still believe they can go on. A self-confidence that isn’t attached to social acceptance, material things and looks … but rather a knowledge of who they are and what they have the potential to become.
“You can do it, Mitch.” I said those words often, and I think he started to believe me. I wish I had more of that when I was a kid. I could have used the boost. Now, I try to give my children what I wanted, but in greater abundance. I am not good at it, and I stumble often, but I believe if I keep trying, I’ll get better at it.
Today, when I face implacable odds and incredible challenges (and I have many), I hear my son’s voice in my mind, “Dad, you can do it.” Then, a quiet confidence stirs within me, not because of who I am today – for I am flawed; but because of what I have the potential to become. Though I stumble, I get back up, and I run.
You can do it; the same is true for all of us, each and every one. We have great potential. We are engineered to become.