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Good Dads

It's really not fair, my friends and I have complained to each other. Why is it that I can say all the same things and give out all the same consequences, but the kids still behave better for Dad than for me? 

There's just something about Dads that makes kids pay attention.

Maybe that's why these days I think more about the unfairness of the kids who don't get good dads--or get dads at all. I think about the little guy who comes up to my window while I'm at a stoplight, begging for coins. I think about George, who told Gil, I want a Daddy too, when we went to bring home Johnny. I think about my grown up friends who never knew their dads.

I am one of the fortunate ones. I have a dad who tickled me until I couldn't breathe, who lay on the living room floor and flew me around on top of his feet. He hugged me every bedtime and spanked me when necessary. He cried every time I got an award or graduated from something or left home for longer than a week. He introduced me to Africa and welcomed the stranger into our home and taught me to pray.

He was strong and funny and made me feel safe. He still does. And now he loves my own kids the same way.

My dad cried when he gave me away to the man who is dad to my kids. And every single day, I thank God for my kids' dad. Because almost every single day, Gil plays with his kids. He plays football and basketball and xbox. The other day, he printed out pictures of tiny little heads of soccer players, and he and Josiah glued them to bottle caps so that they can simulate World Cup matches. He comes up with crafts for the girls. He coaches the kids' teams. He reads to them most nights. He creates amazing birthday parties and Spirit Week costumes. He helps with homework.

But he's also after their hearts, and the relationship he has formed with them is why they listen. He teaches them from the Bible and prays with them. He and I handle every behavior issue together. He doesn't shy away from discipline or consequences, but he's always looking for ways to make it positive. He is my kids' protector and defender. He makes us feel safe.

When I see my kids with their dad, it's even more poignant to think that they were once fatherless. They could have been that kid begging from cars. Or more likely, like George. Then they hit the Dad Jackpot.

My kids don't yet understand how fortunate they are, but one day they will. Just like I did, they take for granted that they have such an amazing dad. As they grow older, they will realize that their kind of dad is not so easy to find. Which is why I celebrate my dad and their dad today.

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