The family and I just arrived in California for 2 weeks of business and reconnecting with family. Our trip on American Airlines took us through Dallas Forth Worth airport as usual (DFW). While walking with my family to our gate, my boy (three and a half years old) spotted a couple of soldiers chatting. I’ve been explaining to him how important soldiers are to our freedoms and what they do to protect that which we often take for granted. Sure, he doesn’t really get most of it, but what has stuck is that these men are to be honored and respected and thanked for their efforts. He walked up to them and said, "Hi soldier, what’s your name?" This officer was at least 6′ 6” so the imagery was powerful as he stood next to my small boy. Both of the military men introduced themselves and held a brief conversation with my boy. They were extremely gregarious and were smiling ear to ear at what my boy had done. Tears welled up in my eyes when my son stuck out his hand and said, "Thank you". (We’ve been working on the firm handshake and big smile introduction for everyone you meet for a couple of years already.) I choked it back and we sat down…later carrying on more in depth conversation with the tall soldier. He shared pictures from his assignment, told us of the Afghan culture, and showed us pictures of the grandkids that he was about to see in California. It was truly a pleasure.
I marveled at my son and what he’s becoming. He freely walks up to people or strikes up a conversation saying, "Hi what’s your name." I will never coach that out of him, rather I’ll continue to take cues from him. He has the reckless abandon of not caring what others will think. He’s a stranger to no one, friend to many, and cultivator of new relationships. That alone is a trait that will carry a man to big places, and he’s well on his way.
Stop and appreciate your kids. Everyone tells you that they "grow up so fast" and they’re right! Someday I’ll be pulling my hair out when he comes home late with the car some night (sorry dad). But if I do my job, my most important job, my only real job… of raising them properly, I’ve got nothing to worry about.