It is funny how badly we sometimes worry over situations that are not there. Every once in a while, left alone to play out, the most uplifting events can happen without our meddling, or trying to fix it or explain.
For a while now my family has worried about how my nephew will deal with his daddy situation. He doesn’t have one. His has not been around for the memorable part of my nephew’s life. And in all honesty, what he does not realize is that it’s better off this way. My nephew’s biological father is not a good man. He probably wouldn’t be around on a consistent, responsible basis. If he were, there is a good chance he would expose his son to many of his bad habits.
Still, we worry how my nephew will emotionally fill in that blank, especially as he begins to realize that absence as he’s around other kids who talk about their dads.
We’ve danced around the issue. He’ll say silly things, like his grandpa is his daddy. Someone will usually correct him with a, “No silly. He’s your grandpa,” and move on. I feel a little guilty for avoiding the answer to the question my nephew is asking. Well, if my grandfather isn’t my father, and you call him father, then who is mine? What is a father?
I love my nephew. Our relationship is very strong, and a bit distinct from many other uncle-nephew relationships.
After my nephew’s “dad” left the picture, he and my sister lived with me during his first year of life. To this day, my nephew will spend one night a week with me. We watch cartoons, play with toys, and I will take him to school.
I’m not sure what my sister has told her son about dads. I think they are both still figuring that out. I’m not sure anyone really knows what to say.
I know I wasn’t sure what to say when he approached the topic of fatherhood alone with me one night over chocolate milk and cookies while sitting on my couch.
“Bubba (that’s me),” my nephew proclaimed, “you are a daddy.”
My first instinct was to say “no, I’m an uncle, silly.” Before I did though, I paused. He said it with such certainty. Instead, I asked him a simple question.
“What makes me a daddy?” I wondered.
Without missing a beat, his simple answer swelled my heart and forced me to swallow a few tears.
“You love me,” he said.
A daddy, in his 5-year-old world, was a man in his life who loved him. He confirmed this when he said his grandpa and the guy my sister is currently seeing are daddys too.
How do you “correct” that thinking?
I hugged my nephew and kissed him on the forehead and said nothing to contradict his belief. I don’t think any of us could have come up with a better answer to the daddy question asked and answered by a 5-year-old.