I hope that you recognized the quotes within the title. We live in the age of the air quotes. In our verbal communications, we often times resort to the use of our hands and fingers to indicate our facetiousness or basic lack of belief or agreement in the words we are saying. I am certainly “guilty” of the use of the air quotes in my conversations, but none more than when I’m talking about my “step” father.
You see, I actually despise having to refer to John Potts as my step father. I do so only in situations that I have to be clear that he is not my biological father. I might say to someone: “my dad is a mechanic”. In that I’m referring to John. Conversely, when explaining why our last names are different, I will refer to John as my step-father.
You might ask why I am so caught up on the use of the word step. It is after all quiet accurate of me to use the word. Under the English language and by definition, John is my step-father. So why not just be clear and concise when referring to John? The reason that I despise the use of the title step-father is because it gives the connotation that John is in some way less than a “real father” (air quotes because most folks use this phrase to refer to a biological father, I use it here to refer to a man that is truly engaged and active in his responsibilities in raising a child). The use of the title step-father gives many the mental image of one of two things: a dictatorial outsider that swoops into a child’s life to steal away his mother and serve as marine drill instructor for the child or a spineless wimp of a man that is afraid to rock the boat within the new family he has stepped into. These two characterizations do not describe my dad at all.
So, you might be asking at this point; what do you call your step-father. Well, unfortunately I simply call him by his name – John. Incidentally, I call my biological father by his name as well. The reason that I call John by his name is simply because that is the way it was communicated to me as just a toddler. I’m sure there were all sorts of angst and worry within my mother as to how to refer to John as he stepped into my life, but I believe she handled it very appropriately and safely. Throughout my entire life, it has been very clear to me that I have two dads and I believe that such transparency and honest is important within a mixed family.
THAT’S MY BOY
I mentioned earlier that I felt the fact that I refer to John by his name was unfortunate. I say this because now that I am a father also, I realize the joy that I’ve robbed John of for many years. Having three small children, I can honestly say that there is no greater joy than to be called daddy. Whether they are running to me with great joy after a long day at work or refusing to move as they stand in the middle of yard crying from a scraped knee, when they use the word daddy there is something that wells up inside of me that brings great pride and joy. It is a pride and joy that compels me to be a better man, a better husband, and certainly a better dad.
I feel like referring to John by his name has robbed him of the joys of being called daddy. It simply must have. Now I know that he would never say so or place any type of guilt on me, but I’m certain deep down inside he wishes that his little boy would have called him daddy.
Never the less, he was never hesitant to refer to me as son or his boy. As a child I played a few sports and he was as active in those activities as work would allow him to be. I can remember countless times at bat or on the court that I would hear the very familiar voice in the crowd shouting “that’s my boy”. I now know and even knew back then that he often times made such a ruckus in order to joke with me and attempt to embarrass me. Even so, I wasn’t at all ashamed or embarrassed because I knew without doubt that he really meant it. Yes, though I refer to him by name, I am certainly John’s boy – and proud to be so.
You might also enjoy this cool video I recently created for Memorial Day. I spent the morning playing with my son’s drone and iMovie. The video honors my dad and father-in-law.
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