Thoughts from Dad by Richard BalloBy  Richard Ballo

Neapolitan Families, June 2002, page 26

Father’s Day is approaching, and I wonder what my kids are going to give me. Do I really care what they give me? No, what is important is that they think of me.

The reason what they give me is unimportant is because they have been giving me gifts all their lives.

The gifts I receive are the time to watch a human being physically grow and change and to see a mind and personality grows before me. Not all of it is easy or pleasant to deal with.

What is the value of watching my 7 pounds, twenty-one-inch baby boy, Victor, grow into a one hundred forty-pound, five-foot-eleven teenagers in just 14 years? What a gift to see him at 2 years of age sitting on a piano stool reaching for the keys, then become the teenager playing Chopin and Elton John. Then to argue with him over doing chores and listen to him complain that he does everything around the house.

Having a second child is not a clone of the first. On a vacation, the boys were jumping on the bed despite repeated demands to stop. Four-year-old Nick jumped up and off the bed, hitting his head against the glass sliding door and fell to the floor crying. As he cried, I held him in my arms looking for signs of injury. Then he started laughing. What was wrong? Then he said, “At least I had time to fly before I cried.”

What? Where did that come from? What is it worth to hear such an amazing insight from a child?

They have given me gifts of pride when I watched Nick tag a man out at home plate, or watched Victor tearing down the basketball court to score a lay-up.

Both boys are so different from each other and both bring the gifts of wonder, laughter, and challenge to my life. The gifts I received are hearing their first giggle, the first toot step, the sense of accomplishment and pride when they finish a tower of Legos, ponder a universe without an end or complete an athletic or academic accomplishment.

Some of the gifts are not as welcome as others such as learning patience, gaining insight into my relationship with my siblings, listening to the arguing and excuses they have, and the worry about their health and welfare.

Would I trade all of it in for a material gift? Never. The good and the bad are part of our lives. They have added to my life and make me wonder what is next.

They best gift they can give me on Father’s Day, or any day, is when they say, “Hi Dad.”