I have a photo in front of me, of our son, Peter, wearing a backpack filled with his happy little daughter at her first baseball game. They are in front of the Nationals Stadium in D.C., Peter wearing his Atlanta Braves hat. Lilly has on a Braves shirt, covered by a Nationals bib. (Her mom, Ann-Bailey, is a Nationals fan). We have other similar photos of the two of them, Peter with the special baby backpack with Lilly on a family hike in the Virginia mountains; Peter with Lilly in a smaller pack at the Woodruff Arts Center, viewing the art.
It is so heartwarming to watch our grown-up son interacting with his baby daughter. Lilly Bell is only nine months old, but she has already spent some amazing quality time with her dad (and mom).
This will be Peter’s first Father’s Day as a Dad. He comes from a long line of loving, caring, interactive fathers. He has had a great role model in his own father and fatherhood seems to come naturally to him. Each male must find his own style of parenting, but he is guided by the fathers who have been a part of his life.
What does it take to be a great father? Love certainly must be the first ingredient. Without that, there is no foundation for the role. Although I’m sure it must happens, I can’t imagine a father, who, upon meeting his child, does not feel a bond, a kinship, and a deep swelling of love. The other fatherly traits build on this instinctual love. Kindness, patience, nurture: all of these are important components of fatherhood. It’s also important to give discipline and instruction, offered with love. Conversations are also important; not one way monologues, but speaking and listening. Already Peter and Lilly Bell have conversations, although her vocabulary is somewhat limited at the moment. But he talks to her, reads to her, and listens proudly to her babbling, excited by sounds that are becoming actual words.
I have a lot of pictures in my mind from Peter’s youth: Allan helping him build a racer for the Scouts Pinewood Derby; the two of them cutting the grass, as Peter followed his dad with his toy mower; the two of them going on a Scout camping trip; and Allan watching Peter in a play or a soccer match. There has always been time set aside for interaction; time for being together, sometimes as a whole family, sometimes just father and son or daughter.
Just as Peter and his sister, Katie, were blessed with a wonderful dad Lilly is blessed to have Peter as her caring, loving dad.