Two years ago on 11/11/11 my wife and I brought home our two-week old baby boy. Our 2 year old daughter didn’t quite understand the adoption process, but that didn’t stop her from loving Tucker the moment she saw him. We quickly fell in love with our little guy, and as a father it is truly special to have a son. I remember staying up late nights hoping he’d stay asleep (he usually did). I remember laughing at the way he crushed bottles even at an early age. I remember his first smile, and smiling right back at him. I remember his one-arm crawl (that lasted forever), and the first time he took a step! I remember being so scared on his first trip to the emergency room, and hoping everything would be all right. I remember the first time he kicked a ball, said a real word, and sang his first song.
All of these memories are cherished forever, but what I’ve really learned in the past four years is that being a dad begins and ends everyday with caring. I care about everything him and my daughter do. I care when they are happy, when they get in trouble, and when they are sleeping. As I look at the definition of care, I see all of those variations in being a dad. To care is to look after, to act with serious consideration, to provide, and to protect. It’s also about time. Taking the time to be present and take notice of what others might miss.
I also see those traits in being a great teacher. It’s easy to care about someone when everything is going well, but real “care” comes during the tough times. When instead of throwing your hands up in the air and giving up, you take a deep breath and find any way possible to help. Being a great teacher, coach, administrator, or any other leadership position begins and ends with caring. I often find myself in an odd position as a staff developer. I work with students, plan with teachers, talk with administrators. I still coach two sports, and run a large school spirit club at my school. The best part about my job is working with people everyday.
My son taught me that I don’t need to have some long connection with someone to care for them. I cared for my son the moment I laid eyes on him. I’ll care for him that deeply the rest of my life. The teachers I remember from school showed that they cared for me in some way, shape or form. And it does not have to be a big show of affection, it can be a small act that shows the most care in the world.
Veterans Day will always be special for me because it is the day I met my son for the first time. But it is also a day when we can think about the people who cared for our lives without ever meeting us. Hopefully we can care for our students, our staff, and our colleagues that much. I know I’ll never forget that caring is really what matters in education, because it is those relationships that bring us the most joy, freedom, and growth.
Thanks to our Veterans who have served so bravely. Thanks to my son for opening my eyes everyday. Thanks to my wife and daughter for showing me how to care. And thanks to all the people who care, even when they don’t have to.