When I was in the market for a new messenger bag, I decided on the same one that’s used by Jack Bauer in the Fox series 24 – it was my choice in bag solely for that reason. It’s the same army combat tested bag that Jack uses… I’m so cool, right?!
The cargo however is a far cry from what Jack carries with him. Mine is filled with pull-ups and wipes, goldfish, hand sanitizer, a first aid kit, juice boxes, a copy of Siblings Without Rivalry to read in my spare moments, and anything else I might need to take on the world as a Mr. Mom.
I’m no tough guy like Jack.
So I was surprised at an interaction with my son this past weekend when our cat died. While he was part of our home for 12 years, I’m not the biggest fan of cats in general, and while he was pretty cool – as far as cats go – he was old and very sick, and I wasn’t devastated. But my son was.
When I sat him down to telll him that Quagmire (our cat) had died, he screamed and bawled his eyes out. I held him tight, and found a couple of tears running down my own cheeks as well. I was of course sad about the cat, but what really had touched me was how upset my son was.
When he finally calmed down and pulled away, his own cheeks completely soaked with the tears still flowing from his little blue eyes, he looked at me and said, “Daddy, why are your eyes leaking?”
I was caught off guard when I realized that in 5 years he had never seen me cry. Like I said, I’m not a “tough guy”, I don’t intentionally hide my emotions from my kids. But as emotionally open and enlightened as I think I am, I had never let him see that side of me, and didn’t even realize it. I’d venture to guess that many dads fall into this same category.
So I guess it was a double learning experience for him. It was his first real experience with death. While it wasn’t a person it was an adored pet that he loved dearly and it was still a profound loss for him. But he also learned that daddy can get super sad and shed a tear or two as well.
I’m not suggesting all the dads make it a point to go home and weep in front of their kids, but I don’t think it’s something that needs to consciously be kept a secret. Given the occasion and the reason, my little man seems no worse for the wear from it.Share