June 16, 2011

To My Children in 2031

Dear Mia and Owen,

Hi from the past. It's your dad here. I'm sitting here in the living room banging this out on a computer that, if I told you the specs, would seem pretty ridiculous now since you're probably reading this with your mind or on a hologram or it's being read to you by robot slaves. Anyway, you're in bed now and your mom and I are here glued to archaic computers so I thought I'd write you a letter. (By the way, I know you guys always want to stay up late and are curious about what your mom and I do but the truth is that we watch some TV, maybe play some cards - your mom always kicks my ass - and most of the time talk about you guys.)

Why am I writing from the past? Because I can. And because there are some things I just can't say to you now. You're too young. I give you a lot of credit for being smart but there are just some things you have to be older to understand. Did you know, for example, that your dad is a guy with flaws, imperfections and uncertainties? Dad's are supposed to be uncertain. They're supposed to be strong, stoic, and fun (if those things actually go together).

When I was a kid, I often wondered why I was an only child. At some much later point - I think I was 37 - I finally got around to asking. "It was just, you know, a lot of emotion. It was hard for your dad." That's what my mom said. And that's all she needed to say. My dad - Grandpa - is a lot like me. Or rather, I'm a lot like him. He's passionate and emotional and the most empathetic person I've ever met. He wanted me to grow up strong and smart and to take advantage of the advantages I had. You know, all those things you've heard me say about applying yourself, sitting up straight, realizing your full potential, not hitting each other in the head with stuff. Those are all things I got from my dad. I didn't just accept them as gospel and parrot them at you. Over time they made more and more sense. And seeing you little people they came to mean even more.

I'll admit here and now - the living room, twenty years in the past - that I have not always been nor will I be the best father this world has ever seen. I attribute that largely from the passion that I inherited from my dad. I'm not the most patient person as a result. After all, I taught you your first curse word (dammit) and was perhaps not a heck of a lot of fun to play board games with (especially Candyland because let's all finally admit that Candyland sucks), and I even introduced religion into the household with my frustrated cries of Jesus Christ!. I don't tolerate attitude or entitlement or laziness (unless its my own) and I expect politeness even to sibling who sit and fart on you for no obvious reason.

So I'm not the most patient person on the planet but I am one who loves you with the power of a million blazing suns. And no amount of farting on each other will ever change that. Though twenty years from now we're going to have to talk if that's still going on.

Your Dad

Posted by Chris at June 16, 2011 6:05 AM

Having come from a home with a really horrific Dad, let me just say: I think you are a great DAD!
Happy Father's Day!

Posted by: Maribeth at June 16, 2011 8:47 AM

you are an awesome dad. they are very lucky to have you as a father, especially since they can read how you were really feeling during their formative years. I wish my dad had blogged.

Posted by: kirida at June 16, 2011 8:50 AM

Thank you for doing this, and you should do more. Why? Because the future is never certain. I lost my father at age 7, and I can barely remember him. Had he been the sort to write things down to me - things he thought, felt, did with me... I might have a clearer picture of who he was. Even had he lived to a ripe old age, it still would have been wonderful to look back on and reflect when I missed him. I do miss him, every single day. Problem being, I don't know who I miss - if that amkes any sense. I don't know who he was. Happy Father's Day.

Posted by: Julee at June 16, 2011 9:07 AM

I have a vision of your kids sitting on a couch, à la "How I met your Mother".

Well written - as usual. :-)

Posted by: LeSombre at June 16, 2011 9:54 AM

You are such a great parent and it is a pleasure to read about your kids as a result. I definitely did not want kids of my own, so that is a big compliment. They will realize what a great job you've done and will love you for it someday.

Posted by: Heather at June 16, 2011 10:13 AM

Can you imagine your kids 20 years from now sitting down to read, not just this letter, but your whole blog?

My dad wrote a lot. I lost him in my early 20's and I'm so thankful for the things he wrote down. It gives me a perspective on him that I missed when I was a kid.

And yeah, candy land sucks.

Happy Father's Day. :-)

Posted by: Stephanie at June 16, 2011 10:31 AM

You are a wonderful father! Happy Father's Day!

My dad passed away last year and I have his journals and also I have been reading old emails lately. I am so glad to have something that my father wrote so I can always keep a part of him close.

Thanks for a great post!


Posted by: Julie Andel at June 16, 2011 10:38 AM

THANK YOU! Candyland DOES suck. I think it's one of the absolute worst aspects of being parents. Being forced to endure endless games of Candyland!

Posted by: Holly at June 16, 2011 11:52 AM

Aww, that was nice. It made me think I ought to do this for my boys. I wonder if they'll appreciate it some day down the road. I hope so.

Posted by: Claire at June 16, 2011 12:28 PM

you always say things so well :)

Posted by: kati at June 17, 2011 12:18 AM

Chris, it's beautiful!

Posted by: Nadia at June 18, 2011 10:25 AM

I wonder if they'll appreciate it some day down the road. I hope so.

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