Thursday, January 10, 2013

"That Your Dad?"

Ever since I was an intern, I've had a photo of my dad and I sitting on my desk, sitting in between photos of Husband, file folders, colorful pencils, and other trinkets. First, it was a photo of Dad and I at my graduation from graduate school, then he and I at a minor league baseball game, then a Yankees game. Now, it's a photo of us at my wedding.

You may remember that my dad and I have a close relationship; I'm an only child and it was he and I for quite a while after my mom passed away when I was in high school. He's a great confidant and imparter of life wisdom, like how to perform basic maintenance on my car (pfft... I'm so not a handy person, but I can relate it to my job!). He's the best, we're lucky to have each other.

The photo of us on my desk has always drawn a lot of comments from kids. It's a great ice breaker/conversation starter, actually! When I was intern, a kiddo came over and asked me if he was my dad, and when I said "yes," she replied, "He looks nice" in the most kind, longing voice (adorbs). I got lots of conversations out of the Yankees photo because of Dad's Yankees hat and who doesn't know the Yanks (love 'em or hate 'em, their logo is like the golden arches). The Yankees photo always cracked me up because with his hat on, you couldn't see Dad's graying hair, so the kids always asked if he was my husband. He used to think that was hilarious, and probably complimentary, because he looks very youthful. Now, with the wedding photos, kiddos comment on how happy we look--true story, it was a great day! Yesterday, someone even told me that he looked familiar and wanted to know if he had been at school before.

Sometimes the kids' reactions to my dad's photo make me feel a little sad, too. The vast majority of my students come from homes with atypical families, meaning that they don't have a father or mother in their lives, they live in foster care or with another relative, etc. It's tough stuff. Many of them have good relationships with other mentors or parent-like figures, but there's something special about a relationship with a dad. So, Dad shall stay camped out on my desk, able to start conversations with kiddos about connections and good experiences they have to adults, looking on as a pseudo father-figure.

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