I watched a movie tonight that I have seen a few times before. The movie was “The Blind Side”. You know, the one with Sandra Bullock and that big ol’ football player that made it to the NFL. Yeah, that one, the one that makes you just want to adopt some poor kid off the street and set him up for a career with a pro sports team. It’s a great movie, with a great message, but tonight it started my gravy-train a thinkin’ ’bout something else.
Even my wife commented on it. I am a lot like Sandra Bullock’s character. I would take absolutely every kid in that ever needed me. Maybe it’s my years as a youth pastor, but I have laid in bed at night thinking about how I could remodel the downstairs of my house to allow for two more bedrooms. Then, if I swapped out the kids’ twin beds for bunk beds, I could sleep 6 kids upstairs, 4 downstairs. That’s a whole lotta youngins. I’d do it in a heartbeat, and my wife knows it. We talk about it constantly. Someday it will happen, but not right now. Right now we have law school, Gav’s development, and the focus on my career. So we will wait to take that giant leap.
I didn’t exactly have the normal father-son relationship that most kids have. My parents were married for most of my childhood, and got divorcced when I was 15. We moved just a few miles away from my father. While we were only miles apart geographically, we were thousands of miles apart emotionally. He was a no-nonsense type of guy, and I have always been a goofball. I have always been independent, and he felt the need to control everyting around him. Needless to say, we were never close, at all. Don’t get me wrong, people say that he is a great guy and would do anything for anyone, I’m just not one of those people.
I don’t necessarily remember looking for that “fatherly” relationship, but I remember when I found it.
Growing up, my family was very involved in church, and we had gone to the same church for as long as I could remember. Like most churches, we were very close with most of the people that attended. When I was a teenager, a young preacher joined our congregation, and started teaching a class. I got to know Robb very well, and became very close to him. He was only a few years older than me, so I soon started seeing him as a big brother. He lived next door to me, as well, so we spent a lot of time together outside of church. I came to see Robb as an authority figure, as he always seemws to be able to give great advice on anything that I was facing. I trusted him, felt comfortable with him, and soon started seeking his approval on different things in my life.
I looked up to Robb like I imagine most kids do to their father. I sought his advice on so many decisions in my life, and felt that I could confide absolutely anything in the world to him. I felt safer when he was around, wanted to absorb anything that he said, and felt so very disappointed in myself when I let him down. He was always there when I needed him, no matter what time of day or night it was. I remember sitting on his front porch (which was only a few feet away from mine), watching a lightning storm, feeling like I was miles away from anything that bothered me.
Robb wasn’t my father. He wasn’t my step-father, and he didn’t adopt me. I didn’t even live in his house, although I was there nearly as much as I was in my own. We didn’t share a last name. We didn’t share anything other than a bond. Robb didn’t have kids, and I doubt that he saw me as one of his kids. I think that he just saw me as a kid who needed someone to just listen, give a litte advice, and pat me on the back every now and then. He kicked my butt when I needed it, picked m up when I fell, and made me smile when I needed to. He was a father-figure to me, without ever being a father to me.
When I watched that movie tonight, I thought about how I want to help every needy child that I come across. I thought about how full my house would quickly become, and how happy that would make me. Eventually, though, the square footage will run out. I won’t be able to fit anymore beds into my house, even after an Extreme Home Makeover. There are going to be some kids that I just can’t provide for.
Then I realized that they don’t necessarily have to live under my roof. There are so many children, just like I was, that aren’t looking for someone to move into their homes, but they are looking for someone to take an interest in what they are doing. They are looking for someone who cares about what they are going through, who will listen when they need to vent, and who will be there for them when something goes bad or good. Someone to share the joy and the frustration.
So, throughout these next few months, as we finish law school, and OT and ABA therapy and work on opening new restaurants, I know that I won’t have the option to adopt, take in foster children, or even just have some random kid in need stay in my house. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be a dad to someone who needs it. That doesn’t mean that I won’t positively impact some child’s life, just by being there, by being involved. It doesn’t take sharing a roof to be a dad.