A Father’s Day Hero

 One fall day, while I was in my late teens I stopped at a gas station to grab a snack before I headed back out to work in the Idaho Potato fields that I had grown up in. A small family followed right behind me, through the doors.

The only two from this family whom I remember is a daughter with her father. The dad, a big man with a salt and pepper colored beard, was wearing a sleeveless shirt and I would have thought he had pulled in with a biker gang, had I not seen the little girl at his side. His daughter seemed to be only four or five years old, her hair was messy, and there was old food all over her face. It appeared that it had been several days since she had been washed.

I didn’t take much thought of them as I was busy trying to find the right flavor of Gatorade. Then all of the sudden the father burst out in anger at his daughter because she had asked one too many times for some candy. He grabbed her and violently dragged her out of the store. Just as they were exiting the door her deep blue eyes met mine and my heart melted. I saw fear and confusion in the face of this little girl, she was so innocent and clearly did not understand the reason behind his outburst.

As I watched them drive away my blood boiled, I thought, “how could a man treat her that way? How could anyone be mean and harsh to someone so little and completely innocent.” It occurred to me that day just how lofty the duty of fatherhood will be.

This little girl was completely dependent on her father in every way. She couldn’t even get a piece of candy without him. How vulnerable a position to be in for this little girl and for every child. Yet this dependency and vulnerability is what puts such great responsibility on the shoulders of fathers. I wondered what this little girl might write in a Father’s Day card to her dad, it might go something like this:

“Dad, I don’t understand what I did to make you mad, I never wanted to make you mad. I just wanted the candy, it was wrapped in such nice colors and it always tastes so yummy.  Sometimes I am scared to ask you for things because I don’t want to upset you. I don’t like it when you are upset, it makes me feel like you don’t want me.

I don’t need a lot of things in life. I just need food, a bed, and a daddy who loves me. Like the other day when I tripped in the yard and scratched up my knee, I just wanted you to kiss it better and tell me it would be ok. Or when I hear the monsters under my bed, I want you there to protect me. Will you do that for me? I can’t do it myself…

It’s not very hard to be my dad. I promise I won’t ask much. You seem so busy with all your work, but if you would just play with me and talk with me every day that would be enough.

The world is dark and scary, but you are big and smart. Will you teach me all I need to know, so I can be like you one day? There are a lot of heroes on TV but none seem as brave as you are, and that’s how I know we are safe. If you promise to always be here when I need you, then I will remember you always as my hero.”

I am twenty-four years old and what I want from my father isn’t so different from what this little girl might want from hers. I am lucky enough to have a dad who is my hero. He is always there when I call. I know he will listen to me and not judge me harshly. He always tries to help, and he loves me no matter what.

I have always felt his compassion for me and it has meant more than anything to me. So much so, that in the fifth grade when we had “Dress like a Superhero Day,” I went dressed as my dad. I looked like a goof in his cloths but I didn’t care because he was my hero.

Do you want to be your child’s hero? It really doesn’t take a lot. Despite how current media often casts lazy and stupid fathers across the screen, making it seem that fathers are anything but helpful, fathers are needed. Fathers like mothers have a crucial role in nurturing their children. Research “suggests that fathers’ affection and increased family involvement help promote children’s social and emotional development.” It’s simple, your child just needs your love and your time. If you can give that then you will be your child’s Father’s Day Hero.

Author: Braxton Ard

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