Today, I wrote another letter. I have wanted to write this one since I wrote A Letter to My Future Daughter, and I finally did it. I wrote a letter that I will give to my son when I think he’s ready for it.
And today, I learned again some of what it feels like to be a father. But this time, I learned how it felt to be a dad to a boy.
This was really amazing, as it helped me to see some of the things that my own father thinks when he looks at me.
I can’t wait to give this to my son.
This is really cool. I’m so thankful to be able to write this letter. All my life, I’ve dreamed of having a son. A boy that was a part of me. A boy that I could help to grow up. And, since you’re reading this, you’re here. My dream has come true.You may be wondering about those last two sentences, like, “What do you mean, Dad, ‘I’m here’? I was here. You’ve raised me until this point. I don’t understand.” And you would be right in saying that you don’t understand.
Because what you don’t understand is that this is a letter from the past.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my dorm room at college, with only about three weeks left of the first semester of my freshman year. I’m eighteen years old, still wide-eyed at the world, and am not as different from you as you might think. You’ll reach this point, where you don’t know if you want to grow up or stay a kid forever. It’s exhilarating and frightening all at the same time. Every choice you will have made will lead up to your college years, and there is where you will decide what direction that you want your life to turn to.
Even now, at eighteen, with not even a girlfriend – let alone a wife! – I think of you. What you’ll look like. How you’ll act. What funny sayings will come out of your mouth that I will remember forever. I think of how I’ll feel when I hold you for the first time, knowing that life is tough and will get you down, but that I’ll always be there when you need me.
And I think of your mother. About how incredible she will be. How amazing she will be. How loving she will be. You will have the best mother in the world. Why? Because I wouldn’t choose a wife that wouldn’t be the best mother ever to my kids.
You won’t understand us sometimes, son. The way parents work will sometimes seem backwards to you, but all you have to remember is that everything we will do will be for your good. Because we love you. Sometimes you’ll get punished and it will seem so unfair – but years later you will be able to look back and thank your parents for that situation, because it would have saved you from doing something rash or becoming someone that you didn’t want to be.
I know, by this time, I will have told you that I love you a lot of times. A whole lot of times. And you may just think of the words I love you as just something I say because I have to, because I’m your Dad. The thing is, though, is that that is not the reason why I say it. Because, even now, I say it. I love you. And, even now, though I don’t have you yet, I know it to be true.
And because I love you, I will give you some tips about life that I have learned so far in my eighteen years. Some things will be like ‘duh, Dad, I know that’ but each of these things are key points that I have had to learn in my life. And I want you to know them before you have to learn them the hard way.
First, girls. You were really hoping we were gonna get to this one. Well, here it is. Girls are strange, dude. Seriously. Like, they work nothing like we guys do. They talk a lot, act weird, and there’s a lot of them that are really cute. Girls are weird to us. But, girls have value. God made them that way.
By now, I will have taught you about the story of Genesis and how humans were created, but let’s think about this for a minute. God made everything. And, as you look around you, it’s beautiful. There’s trees and hills and mountains and caves and clouds and stars and galaxies and all the craziest things that you could think of. God made ‘em. And then He made man to take care of it. That’s a huge responsibility, but God made us in a way that we could do it. And then, God created woman.
This is where the story gets cool.
Think of how incredible the universe is. Think of how you, as a guy, are awed by how gorgeous girls can be. Now think of this: God made women to outdo the beauty of all the rest of His creation. He created women to irrationally capture the eye of men so that men would seek them with everything that they had. Do you see it? Now think of this: how valuable are women, now, that God created them to surpass the beauty of every single other aspect of His creation? I know you know the answer. Priceless.
And so, we as men should treat them as such. We as men should treat women as what they are: the most beautiful and valuable thing in God’s creation. What does this mean? This means we will do things for her not because we think she can’t do them herself, but because we think she’s worth doing things for.
We will never put a girl down, especially for how she looks. If she is the most beautiful thing ever, we should never say that she isn’t. That’s like saying that not only are they worthless, but that God didn’t do a good job – which is wrong. We will never make a spectacle of a girl in front of anyone. She is precious. Don’t ever make her feel like she isn’t. We will open doors for a girl. We will push her chair in for her when we take her out. We will never go farther than she is comfortable with.
We will never take from her what is rightfully her husband’s – even if she wants us to. She’s worth so much more than that. If you think she’s worth spending the rest of your life with, then she’s worth waiting for.
We will love the things about her that she may not like. When you find a girl, she will feel like she is not beautiful because of certain things – but you will know that it isthese things that make her the most beautiful. Because, one: they do; and two: God doesn’t make mistakes. We will know that the things she views as ‘faults’ make her all the more gorgeous. We will know that, makeup or no makeup, she is still the most beautiful thing to walk the Earth.
We will compliment women – even if we don’t “like” them – because we know how valuable a woman’s self-image is, and we will compliment her genuinely. We will never brag about ourselves, and will never elevate ourselves above others. There are few things less attractive to a woman than a man who is prideful. We are to be humble.
Humility is strength.
We will stick up for women, even if it comes at our own expense. If you stick up for a girl and you get hurt for it, you did the right thing. You saved her. And, hopefully, she won’t even know that it ever happened. You’ll understand why her not knowing that you saved her would be a good thing once you have been in that position.
We will value others above ourselves. If someone needs us or needs our help, and it could cost us, we will do it anyway. Why? Because that’s what men do.
But what about understanding girls?
Here, I can help you a little bit. In recent weeks, I spent about an hour talking to two girl friends (notice the space) of mine about what they would want a guy to know about girls. Some things that they said I already knew, but some were genuine surprises!
The first thing that you need to know about females is that they don’t know what they want, but they want it right now. It’s okay, I don’t get it either.
Also, girls really like it when you remember the small details about them, or compliment them on little things – like new shoes or how they did their hair that day. Girls remember everything (yes, be scared – EVERYTHING), so when you remember or compliment them on the little things, they feel like they’re being listened to and paid attention to.
If you want to go out with a girl, don’t be ashamed of it. Go ahead and ask.
Some things that I’m still trying to wrap my head around are these: “If you feel like you’ve been friendzoned, that’s not necessarily the case” and “If a girl rejects you, let it be for a little while then try again – girls don’t know what they want”. MIND. BLOWN.Basically, some girls that you may like may not know what they want – and you just gotta help them figure it out subtly.
If you’re out in public with a girl, show her off. Hold her hand. Brag about her to your friends. I’m told there are few things a girl loves more than being the loved so much that she is the one that all the other girls are jealous of.
A girl constantly needs to be reminded of how beautiful and important that she is. This is essential to the way she views herself.
Be a gentleman. Don’t ever say something to her that you wouldn’t say in front of your mother and me or her parents. And don’t ever make her choose between you and her family. Also, make her feel safe.
And finally, I was told this with a lot of emphasis: “Don’t EVER touch a girl’s hair – unless you have been given permission!” Yeah, basically, girls do a lot with their hair to look good. No touchy.
Next, you will never know what someone else is going through. You’ll be surrounded by other people every day at school. It’s possible to never truly know any of them. It is your duty as a man to protect them and to be there for them. Why? Because a simple act of kindness can change everything. Don’t get walked on, don’t get used, just make sure you’re there in case someone needs you or you protect someone else when they’re in danger. You will learn the signs of getting walked on or used – but there’s no set criteria that say ‘hey bro, you’re bein used now’. No, it mainly comes with experience. Every day still, I learn things that I never knew about people that I thought I knew – pain and struggles that they went through.
I hope I never hear that you bully another kid. By now, you probably would have heard what happened to me a couple times, but I’ll say it again. I was bullied in middle school – bad. And nobody stood up for me. Nobody protected me. And nobody was there for me. At school, I was alone. At home, I cried. At church, that was where my only real friends were, but I just felt disconnected. And my parents (your grandparents now – gosh, that’s weird to think about) intervened as much as they could, but I ended up asking them to stay out of it because it only made it worse. Son, it sucked. And it’s all because a few kids just decided to pick on me, and they got away with it for years. And the main bully never was punished. Not once. For all the times I reported it.
Never be a bully. Never pick on someone else. It almost completely ruined me. Don’t ruin someone else. The words said to you, even if that person didn’t totally mean it, will stick with you for the rest of your life. Here I am, more than four years after middle school, and I still cringe at the thought of the things that were said to me. It hurts forever. Don’t be the one to say the hurtful things that someone will remember for the rest of their lives. Be the one that will say the things that someone will look back on and think, ‘There, right there in my life, is where I felt like I was truly loved for the first time.’ Be the one that will hear the words, “You changed my life,” from the people that you help. Be Jesus to the people you know.
Also, do what you love. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Truly, you can do anything that you want to do if you really want it. You wanna walk on the moon? You wanna be a professional card thrower? Get a Ph.D. in Astrophysics? Whatever it is, work for it. You’ll get there, I promise. Since I’ve been a kid, I always wanted to do three things: the first is to work with computers, the second is to work with people, and the third is to step foot on the Moon. I’m only 18 now, we’ll see what I’m doing by the time you read this. Whatever I’m doing, make sure that I love what it is – if I don’t, my life will be so disappointing to me (and I may not show it).
Love what you do. Do what you love. There is no greater lie than to work at something you don’t love in the hope that someday you’ll be able to do what you do love. Do what you love now, no matter the pay or the job market. You love it? Do it. I’ll be behind you every step of the way.
Lastly: love. I know I could hit every topic under the sun on this letter, but I’m picking the most important ones that stick out to me right now. Love.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
-1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Quite simply, this is what love is. If what you see as love doesn’t look just like this, then it is not love. And if what you’re doing doesn’t look like this, it’s not love either.
My son, you are awesome. I can’t wait to wrestle with you and talk with you and live life with you and be your father. I can’t even think about having to see you get hurt. But I know that you will be hurt, and it will take everything in my being not to go and absolutely annihilate the thing or person or group of people that hurt you. I cannot bear to see you hurting. As your father, I will do everything in my power to keep you safe, but you will make mistakes that will cost you. I will always love you. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, I will always love you. And I will always be there for you to come back to.
I love you, son.
Love, Chris Darius
Your Dad November 13, 2013