I remember the first day I saw you in person. I was so excited to finally meet your mom, that I almost didn’t see you climbing out of your booster seat, blinking in the sunlight.
Your mom introduced you to me, and you were such a gentleman. You were four, but you had the shake of a much bigger, much stronger boy as I knelt in the parking lot so you could look me in the eye, and take my measure.
I’m not sure what you thought of me that day. I never asked your mom, and you probably would not remember if I asked you today.
I praise God that I get to have you today, that I get to be your dad. I might not have been part of making you, but I am part of helping you to be a man, to learn what that means. I can’t remember what my dad told me about that stuff, but I will promise you now that I will answer every question, no matter how many times you ask.
You didn’t get to choose your father, but like your mom and I told you the other night, I chose you, and your mom, and nothing better has ever happened to me.
I get to watch you become a man. I get to watch you do everything, and it blows my mind that I do.
You are so smart, and so strong, and have such a loving heart.
I will teach you how to guard that heart, but not too much, because one day you will want to risk it, and you need to know how to do that, too. Never be afraid to love.
I will teach you and your brother how to be husbands the best I can. I will do this by loving your amazing mother and my best friend.
I will teach you and your brother how to be fathers, by God’s grace. I will do this by loving you guys without limit or condition.
I will raise you both up to know who God is to me, and can be to you.
I will teach you to love people, even when they are pompous toolbags, and they most assuredly will be from time to time (that will not be easy, because I sometimes step on it in this regard).
I will teach you to take responsibility for your mistakes by taking responsibility for mine.
I will teach you to respect the authority that age and wisdom brings (most of the time).
I will discipline you when you need it, because that is how you will learn.
I will teach you that He who is in me is greater than He who is in the world.
I will teach you to be your own man, because God did not make you to walk in the shadows of anyone else.
And more than anything else, I will teach you that no matter who they draft or sign, the Yankees will always suck. Ok, I’m kidding about that—you can support whichever team you like. As long as it isn’t the Yankees…
What I want to say to you today is that I love you more than I have been able to relate to you in a way you can understand, and I am sorry for not getting that across better.
You are a good boy, and a wonderful son, and I will always be here for you and John both.