The other day I told my kids that if they were able take a shower, get dressed, and brush their hair without killing each other (big ‘if’) or making me meet my home insurance deductible, I would make them ice cream sundaes as a treat. If I had told them to do all of those things without some sort of reward at the end, I run the risk of one child crying before the water is turned off. Twenty five minutes later (Lord only knows what they were doing, I’m bigger than the two of them put together and it take me three minutes to take a shower), I see the steam from the bathroom roll down the steps and hear the two of them.
“Here Emma, I’ll help you.”
Promise them ice cream they behave and are civil to one another (take note Democrats and Republicans).
My two, all of a sudden angels, floated down the steps anxious for their sundaes. I had them ready to go. I also told them, “Because of how well you two did, you can stay up an extra hour tonight too.” Had they the authority to do so, I believe they would have granted me Sainthood right there and then.
Emma, my 5 year old, emphatically told me, “Daddy, you are the greatest Daddy ever!”
Hannah, my 8 year old, agreed with this superlative ranking, “The greatest Daddy!”
That sort of sentiment from my kids always tugs at my heart. But then I started to think about what they had said (I’m unemployed. I have lots of time to think about these sorts of things). The world’s greatest? Could I be? Do I deserve such lofty praise? I am pretty good but it seems a bit arrogant to accept this honor? I’ve never been the greatest at anything I’ve ever done. I’ve been good. Sometimes even great, but the greatest? I guess I could be the ‘Greatest’? But what about all the other parents doing great things? Don’t they need to be put under consideration for this prestigious title? How would you even quantify being the ‘Greatest’?
Muhammad Ali is the ‘Greatest’. Ali won the heavyweight title three times. He defended his title constantly. He rumbled in the jungle. If he isn’t the greatest boxer of all time, he certainly is the most recognizable (and recognizable human) on the planet. Michael Jordan was a 5 time NBA MVP and 6 time NBA Finals MVP. He won 7 straight scoring titles and 6 Championships. If he isn’t the greatest basketball player of all time, he is certainly the most recognizable. Mia Hamm has 158 international goals in her career (a high for either USA men or women). She has won two World Cups. She may be one of the most recognizable women soccer players in the world.
They are the greatest. You can look at the statistics to see that.
My statistics? I fix lunches for school and dinners at night. I am part of a carpool for sports and activities. I make thunderstorms not so scary and fend off monsters in bedrooms. I help with homework, sleep on the floor when one of my kids is sick and sleeping in my bed, and hold their hands crossing the street. I don’t get caught up in trying to parent according to doctors, psychologists, or special guests on Dr Phil. No MVP awards or Naismith trophies for me. No 8th round knockouts in Zaire or Heavyweight Championships for me. No World Cups or international records.
And I don’t need those things. I’m not a Dad so I can hoist trophies in the air or score a 90th minute goal or go 15 rounds with someone (although I have my suspicions about going 15 round in their teenage years). I’m a Dad who only wants to do his best to take care of his kids. To be there for them when they need me and to go above and beyond their expectations when I have the means (and the energy) to do so. I’m not the ‘Greatest’ any more than any other parent doing those same things and more for their kids. Although it should be noted, if ice cream sundaes and a later bedtime were the bar, then just ask my kids who they think the ‘Greatest’ is. Well, as soon as they’re done with those sundaes.