My little Samuel has a hero, and it thrills my heart that his hero is his daddy. He is truly a daddy’s boy through and through. When he wakes up, he yells for Mommy most of the time, but as soon as I go into his room, he says, “Where’s Daddy? I want my daddy, Mommy!” He is the first one of our children to continually ask for Daddy throughout the day. He has even gotten angry with me a few times when I told him Daddy was at work. “No, no, Mommy! Stop saying that! Daddy not at work, Daddy upstairs in da bed!” When Clay comes home, Samuel is the first one to yell, “Daddy’s home!” and run to greet him. The two of them can often be found sitting together in the recliner watching “the cowboy show” (Bonanza) or “baseball” (soccer, baseball, or any other sport), reading books, or just sitting together. Every time he gets his hands on a phone, he wants to call Daddy, and if I’m on the phone with Clay and let Samuel talk, he spends the next couple of hours saying randomly, “I talk a Daddy, Mommy!” If Clay opens the door for any reason, even just to call for Elliot or dump cat food in the dish right outside the door, Samuel is right there by his side saying, “I wanna go too, Daddy!” He is Daddy’s little buddy, little helper, little magnet.
A lot of moms might not like this. It seems that dads are usually softer on their girls and moms are usually softer on their boys. It might be tempting for moms to hold their boys close. We might say emphatically that we don’t want a mama’s boy, but really in our hearts, sometimes we do want our boy to prefer us, to want us like Samuel wants his daddy. But I absolutely love the fact that Samuel is a daddy’s boy to the core. I think this is how it should be. He needs to learn how to be a man, and I can’t really teach him that. I know lots and lots of boys are being raised without daddies, and in those cases, the mama has to do the best she can to teach her boy and bring other men into his life to teach him how to be a man. But in houses where Daddy is home, the boy should be a Daddy’s boy.
When Clay takes time to roll a ball back and forth with Samuel even before he has a chance to take his shoes off when he comes in the door, that sends a message to Samuel. When Clay lets Samuel stand outside with him while he waits for Elliot, that lets Samuel know he is loved and valued. When Clay sits in the floor describing which Hot Wheels VW’s are Bugs, which are Mini-Buses, and which are Things, he lets Samuel know that he wants to share his interests with him. And when Samuel spends all day wearing Daddy’s hat, or fiercely defends Daddy’s shoes as Mommy goes to take them upstairs (“Mommy, put those down. Those are Daddy’s!) or even wants to “…’pit [spit] in da potty” just like Daddy, he shows that he is totally secure in his daddy’s love for him, and he is absolutely confident that Daddy is exactly what he wants to be like. I have watched this relationship develop over the past few months, and my heart has almost broken for all the other little tiny boys who start off looking at their daddy as their hero in this same way, only to get rebuffed time and time again as their daddy doesn’t take the time to make their boy a priority. I am so thankful to have a husband who is actively raising his son, and is willing to be Samuel’s hero.
But the burden ends up being heavy on the hero. The pressure is on. As Clay grows in godliness and integrity and wisdom, Samuel will be watching. As Clay makes decisions and choices that affect our home and our family, Samuel will be watching. As Clay chooses his children over his personal recreation, as he honors his wife above his children, as he places his family above his work and other priorities, Samuel will be watching. If Clay fails in these areas, Samuel will be watching, and Clay will have an awesome chance to show Samuel a real-life picture of godly confession, repentance, and reconciliation. So the prayers that I have always prayed for my husband to be the man of God that he needs and longs to be have been stepped up considerably, knowing that each choice that Clay makes will have an impact on Samuel, which will then have an impact on Samuel’s future family. I’m not just praying for my own family now, but by praying for my husband I am praying for my children’s families.
I don’t mean, in this post, to elevate the importance of the father/son relationship above the other parent/child relationships. I know that everything I’ve said about a boy and his dad is also true of a girl and her mom, and there are also many lessons a girl will learn from watching her father and a boy from watching his mom. But it seems that maybe the father-son relationship might possibly be the most crucial, as the man is the leader of the home. In the God-ordained family structure, the man will lead and set the tone for the home–either actively and in a good way, or by leading wrongly, or sometimes by refusing to lead at all. Either way, it’s the man that shapes the family dynamic, so the relationship between a father and son is of utmost importance. As the son grows up, he will be watching the man closest to him to learn what manhood is supposed to look like, and that’s the primary factor that will shape the man that son becomes, and how that son leads his own family. And of course, in the same way, my girls are watching me and my choices and attitudes, especially as I respond to my husband, are shaping their future choices and attitudes as they respond to their future husbands. The pressure is on each parent–we each have our daughters and our sons watching us to learn different things. Parenthood is full of joy, obviously, but it is a heavy burden to have so many little eyes watching our lives, and I am so thankful for the grace of God working in and through my mistakes just as much as through the times I get it right.
But back to the initial subject: with Samuel being my first boy, this is the first time I’ve gotten to watch this Daddy-hero situation play out in such an up-close and personal way. And I love watching it. When I see Clay and Samuel lying in the floor pushing little tiny VW bugs around on an improvised road made out of a cardboard diaper box, it seems that no matter what else is going on in our lives, just for a moment, all is right in my world. Although I must confess the fierceness of Samuel’s devotion took me by surprise since none of the girls had been so strongly and exclusively attached to Clay like this, it still fills my heart with joy to see the bond that is developing between them. I pray the same will be true as Silas grows up. It truly is a beautiful thing to watch a boy and his dad.