When I was growing up, my dad used to take me fishing often. We would go after trout when I was younger, and then as I got older, he would take me on deep-sea boats with him. I loved it. We would go, set up our poles, and then for lunch, we would grab a burger together. Nothing beats a nice juicy, greasy hamburger while waiting for the fish to strike. Whether on the boat or on the shore, somehow those burgers tasted even better than usual. Of course it had to do with the fact that fishing and eating burgers meant I was hanging with my dad.
I remember one time in particular when my dad took me to Puddingstone Lake in San Dimas for some trout fishing. I must have been all of 10 years old at the time. The fish were biting extremely well that whole day and my dad let me reel in all of them. He would patiently prepare the poles, stake out the spots, put all of our gear out on the lake shore, bait the hook, and help me cast the line out there. When the fish would bite, whether it was on my pole or his, my dad would hook it and then give the pole to me so I could bring them in. In total, we caught 10 fish that day! I was so proud that as soon as we got home, I yelled to my mom, “Guess what? I caught 10 fish and dad didn’t catch any!”
The truth was my dad had more to do with catching those fish than I did, but he never said a word. He just let me relish in my triumph. Looking back, I realize that I couldn’t have done it without him, but he never took any of the credit for himself, and in the end, that was one of the best lessons of all.
To be a good parent isn’t about accolades and awards. The only “Father of the Year” award that counts is how you nurture and grow your children. Being a good father means doing what’s needed to build a foundation of success for them. Our reward is in seeing them achieve that success, and seeing the smile on their faces when they do well. There’s not much more that a parent could ask for.
The selflessness my father showed me that day and on many others has been something I’ve long remembered and has proven to be a model for me as I’ve become a father myself. Time spent with our children is sometimes the most valuable gift we can offer. I hope that some day, my kids will look back on the times we’ve spent together and feel the same way I do when I think about my own dad.