“Do you want to play pool? Just you and me.”
“Sure”, replied Luca, trying to play it cool.
Two of her siblings usually tag along when we play, but not today. I wanted to listen to Luca tell me about orchestra and history and student council without distractions.
Of course there’s no guarantee she’ll share any details with me because she’s 13 years-old, and I’m her father who wears a hoodie just to embarass her.
I’ve heard from parents who regret how they raised their first child. They focus on the mistakes, wishing for a second chance to make things right. But nobody gets a second chance, and sharing this sentiment only telegraphs to your child that you don’t like how your son or daughter turned out as an adult.
I’ve made mistakes with Luca, but it’s foolish for that to be my focus when I look across the table and into the eyes of a kind, bright, and joyful teenage girl. That I happened to find a pool hall that serves fry sauce doesn’t hurt either.
As we finished the first game, I think about how my thoughts on fatherhood have changed over the years. I no longer think of our five children as “mine” or “ours”. They are not my possessions to control. For a few short years of their lives, I’m their teacher and provider of basic needs, along with their mother.
More than anything I want them to feel loved and accepted for whom they are. I don’t expect them to follow my path. If I’ve done my job, my children will think critically, blaze their own paths, and live a life of few regrets.
Luca took advantage of my mistakes and won game two.
Which means I’m wearing my hoodie when taking her to school tomorrow.