As I worked, I explained what I was doing and asked him to help where he could. When I was mowing the lawn — a job he's a bit young to handle, but which I can't wait to turn over to my kids when they get older — he decided on his own to help me by making us a snack to share. When he heard the lawnmower turn off after I finished the front yard, he came bounding out of the house with apples and drinks for both of us.
While we munched away, he let me know that he had taken it upon himself to water the plants in our living room. This made me a bit worried (little boys plus water can equal a big, wet mess), but I resisted my urge to immediately check and see if anything bad happened. Instead, I congratulated him on taking the initiative. (When I went back inside later, it turned out he did a great job.)
I believe that most kids want to learn to work. I think many parents understand that and do a better job than I do at teaching those lessons. The key to success, I'm discovering, is to be a good example, give some instruction and then get out of the way.
That's what the fathers in my life have done for me. I'm sure they've sometimes (OK, often) been frustrated at how slowly I've learned to do what they're trying to teach. They've probably wondered whether I was ever going to get it right. But they've had the patience to let me work, answered questions when I had them and watched me incorporate lessons I learned into my daily life.
I'm grateful to all of these good men for their patience and their examples, which continue to this day. I only hope I can live up to the standard they have set — and, more importantly, that I can pass their lessons along to my own children.
If I can help to build a new generation of workers who will excel both in the workplace and in the home, that would be the best Father's Day gift I could ever receive. And it's truly the kind of gift that would keep on giving.
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