“I’m holding my son! I’m really a dad.” These tearful sounding words are ones I will never forget. He really didn’t understand the magnitude of being a parent until that very moment when he first held our baby in his arms. This poignant moment is one that repeated itself upon the birth of our other two children. He became a dad, again. And then, again. Each time it was as though no one else had ever encountered this experience.
The births of ours three children changed him forever. He was now a dad. He became softer, missional, and learned to play again. He did things different than I did. He forged a special role and a special relationship with them. Our children have grown up to make wise choices. They were loved, prayed for and coached. As Cam assumed the role of “dad”, he created his own handbook. These are a few principles on how he became the best dad a kid could ever have:
1. Let kids do things moms would NEVER dream of: One cold winter day Cam and my brother were headed out ice fishing. Cam doesn’t ice fish, so it was an adventure that he felt he should share with his sons. He asked to take both our boys. They were 2 and 5 years old. I was concerned. I knew that Brett, the 2 year old, only wanted to go one place…”away”. He would walk away towards an adventure and never look back. I knew Cam would not worry the way I would. So, they went on their adventure. Yes, I was anxious and, for good reason! They returned, AFTER stopping at the store to print the pictures. There was a photo of Brett as a small dot about a kil0meter away. He was a tiny dot on the lake. Cam and my brother had decided to see how far he really would walk. At 1 km, they realized the kid had no intention of returning. This story is often told. The photo is laughed at! You see, Cam knew Brett was safe and he allowed him to experience stepping way out. My children are adults now. They survived all those times when I was convinced their lives were in danger… AND they have great stories to tell. Memories are built when you step out of what is ordinary!
2. Play and tell stories: I really don’t know how many seasons the telling of “Sheriff Schenk and Black Bart” stories went on. The suspense was always great and the kids never tired of it. I’m sure they would listen eagerly today if another story was told. Cam loved to play with the kids and take them on special dates. It was a little frightening as I watched my children, laughing with glee, as they were tossed into the air. I always breathed a sigh of relief when they were safely caught in his loving arms. Cam had a way of turning simple errands into adventures. He always found the perfect 80’s song for every single situation the kids ever found themselves in! Relationships were being forged, and in later years, his wisdom and coaching would be wisely considered.
3. Provide protection: It’s adorable to hear kids declare, “My daddy is bigger than your daddy.” This changes a bit as they get older, but my kids have always known that their dad would take care of them. Even now, during a difficult time, they call, they come home and ask for insight. As a mom, I can tell my child of all the things that might go wrong and sometimes, I wonder if it is heard. Then, Cam alludes to the danger and it is heard. I don’t get it… but, I receive it as a gift that my kids know their dad knows things that will protect them.
4. Love deeply: On the day our daughter, Kaylin, was born, a part of Cam simply melted. He was raised with only brothers and we had only had sons. This girl thing was so new. He began to sing “You’ll be wrapped around my finger” by the Police. He was right. He’s first to order front row tickets to her shows and always helping her know she is loved. He beams with pride as he talks about Luke and his wife, Hazelle. When asked what she should call him, he immediately responded, “my darling father-in-law”. Well, that stuck. He calls them, encourages them and enjoys quality time with them. His relationship with Brett involves a love for sports. They enjoy hanging out together and sometimes speaking in a sports language, the rest of us more creative people don’t understand. Cam deeply loves and is so proud of his children. They feel it, know it and embrace.
5. Be a coach: The process of coaching our kids has changed drastically as they got older. In the early years, he helped them learn many things that were simple how-tos. They included sports, cleaning, riding a bicycle and basic life skills. Then as they got older, the coaching became more about relationships and planning for the future. Today, his coaching looks different. He presents ideas and concepts and encourages them in providing insight in the decisions they are making. Above all, he prays for them and shares what God is teaching Him. This, in turn, teaches and coaches our kids to be godly men and women.
I had no idea what kind of a dad Cam would be, nor what kind of a mother I would become. We learned together. We found rhythm. Cam was continually buying parenting books that he would share with me. We prayed for our kids. I learned that being a dad is different than being a mom. I chose to embrace the differences and to not be afraid of the adventurous spirit God had given Him.
He didn’t have a handbook. He simply created one by allowing God to help him be the best that he could be. God made him to be the MOST AMAZING DAD for our kids, Luke, Brett, Kaylin and now, Hazelle, could ever have!
Happy Father’s Day to the love of my life!