“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.”
– General Douglas MacArthur
As a father, a dad, the quote above from General MacArthur means a great deal to me. Today is my son’s 11th birthday. There was a time in my life when I was in a bad place, and I cried like a baby. I didn’t cry for myself, I cried for him. I came upon the realization, that I very well could’ve let him down, and that made my heart ache. I love that little dude.
In the Bible, the firstborn son was given twice as much of the inheritance as the rest of the sons. I can understand why. But in today’s day and age, I can see how a firstborn son easily can get twice as much love. I remember the first time he looked at me, he didn’t cry, he didn’t even let off as much as a whimper. Ian just looked at me and said, “Baaaahhhh!”. I knew that he was going to be my dude. He LOOKED JUST LIKE ME!
That night I read the Wall Street Journal to him as he slept in my arms. I had a son.
I didn’t know how to be dad, but I guess no one really does, but man my head was in the wrong place, TO SAY THE LEAST!
When we first moved to Texas, and Tiffany found out she was pregnant (It takes her to tell how she revealed that information to me, but if you know Tiff, she has a… Way) I was fortunate enough to get a brand spanking new job, with a pretty healthy salary. Summer time, actually fall, but the living was looking to be pretty easy, had arrived. We were waiting for my insurance to kick in, and things would be a-ok. Little did I know, that 3 days after I was hired, the firm had a… ahem, an earnings call. It was less than stellar. And, with me being the last hired, I was of course out the door. I was blessed enough to get a FULL SEVERANCE PACKAGE! Even after three days working for the firm. I know right?? We took the severance package, and put money down on a house.
Fortunately, I was a pretty hot commodity. So I was able to get hired with another firm fairly quickly. My insurance at the job became effective immeditately, so we dodged a bullet, albeit temporary.
Shortly after starting at the new firm, my previous company gave me a call apparently they had an opening, and wanted me back with more money. So, I held my nose, I closed my eyes, and I leapt.
Ian was due in July. We were supposed to close on the house in June. And guess what, two days before we were supposed to close on the new house that same company, decided to lay EVERYONE off! Wow. Tiffany was adamant that she stay home with Ian his first year. Yeah, I freaked out. But we both knew that God was in control of the situation. Two weeks later, guess what? Yup, I got another job.
Do you know how you’re able to tell if your child is blessed? There a number of people that you know, show up to just HOLD them. It means that much more when your parents are 1,000 miles away. Rock solid couples like Uncle Terrance and Aunt Chaka; or wonderful women such as Auntie Tiff, Auntie Shella, Auntie Dei, Auntie Jacyntha and Auntie Nilce. Nilce is just sweet. I say Nilce is sweet because she really is just a SWEET person. Have you ever just met someone and you knew from the start that they are a good person? Nilce didn’t know us from Indy; we met through my job in Texas. Tiffany fell in love with her from the start. She would sing songs in Portuguese to him. Nilce just had a couple babies of her own, and those kids are lucky to have her as a mom.
A child is a blessing. And my son, Ian, has been infinitely more than that to me.
Ian is sensitive. I couldn’t presume to count the times when one of us in the house was feeling sad. That kid just walks up, and gives us a hug. Doesn’t say a word. Just a hug. From Ian. And we know everything is going to be alright.
Ian is strong. Ian is brave. Trust me, when you’re the firstborn, things can be tough. Especially when the big, loud guy your mom let’s take care of you, REALLY isn’t all that proficient in what he’s doing.
Although, firstborns are typically aggressive, firstborns have been known to be kids that need have a strong need for approval from anyone in charge. (Tiff and I are both firstborns. Ahhh woooosahhhh.)
He’s a textbook firstborn; Ian wants to make people happy. Why does that make Ian strong AND brave? When, Ian was 6 I recall when he said, “Daddy is it ok if I tell you something that you might not like? I don’t want to hurt your feelings, and this has been bothering me for a while.”
As a 6 year old, he was brave enough, and yet strong enough to keep his temper in check, then he told me how he felt, and furthermore, did it with an even tone, and not a tear in his eye.
In business, I think that every father has in the back of his mind the thought of his son following in his footsteps. Actually this dad wants his son to have a footprint larger than his. I tell Ian, all of the time that I expect him to be better than me. I think the guys on Orange County Chopper fell out because Paul Sr. forgot about larger footsteps. Relatively speaking, I’m a noob, but I’d like to keep that example of what can happen in business if a father forgets ultimately what it’s all about. I mean, even though we all knew that Lamont’s second name was “Big Dummy”, it was understood that however misguided Fred was, and boy was he misguided, that it all was about building the “Sanford Empire”. Fred wanted Lamont to have a larger footprint than his. (Yeah, I know it was a sitcom, but still… Cut me some slack!)
From the very first day of Darrin’s Coffee, Ian has been there. At the second Farmers Market, Ian came with me, and Tiff stayed home. I told him that his job was to make sure that everything was stocked at all times, make change for the customers, and I would be the “personality”. I promised him that if he performed well, and at the end of the market, he would “receive his pay”. That day, Ian not only made his money, baby, that little dude made a bonus.
From that day on, during Farmers Market Saturday, you can be sure that little dude is there with war hat on and ready. Yeah, some mornings we have our struggles. But like anyone with a growing son, that’s been at 6 o’clock on a Saturday, I’d attribute that to teen-in-training!
Ian is a natural in business. If you could’ve taken a picture of how I felt inside when he told me that in his mini-economy at school, his group was the only one that sold out. Funny, when he told us that he was going to open up a “store”, he had already conducted market research and developed a pricing strategy and model. I had to give it to him. I asked him to explain why this happened and how could he achieve more. He told me quickly and succinctly about the steps he needed to take to have an even better performance. Yup. He executed.
I’m blessed. I didn’t have to pray for what General MacArthur prayed. God just sent him that way to me.
I love hip hop. Common’s “One Day it will all make sense”, easily a classic, ends with a poem by his Pop’s Lonnie Lynn. I always thought that one day it would all make sense, but that was my favorite part of the album.
“And one morning you looked across the table at me, it was like what?
Whatchu’ gon’ be? Whatchu’ gon’ do?
You got the responsibility to teach me the right things
You got the responsibility to teach me truth and respect and love, and safety
You know? And my knees started gettin’ a little stronger, you know?
I said, cause I can’t get past these eyes man, it’s just the eyes of a babe looking at me
And I couldn’t look it off, I couldn’t even play it off, you know?
And immediately I started gettin’ the road maps seein’ like how am I gon’ do this?
I had to thank The Almighty for the strength, that he sent to me through you
So, I’m here to say, you know, thank you son
I’m here to say I’m so proud and numerous other things
Cause you’ve been a teacher to me, just like, I have supposed to be a teacher to you
Cause a lot of people think that parenting and raising a child is a one way street
But, you taught me continuous numerous lessons
And I love you my son”
Yup. Now it all makes sense.