Friday, September 23, 2011

Dear sons: I'm proud of you

I've been following a blog by one of my former editors in which she writes daily letters to her daughter, who I think is about 9-years-old. I really enjoy her explanations and advice. A lot of it isn't stuff that will make sense to her now, but when she gets older I'm sure she'll appreciate having these letters to look back at. It got me to thinking that it's been more than a decade now since I started writing about my kids. I write often about them, but I've never written to them. I thought it would be a nice thing to start doing, especially since I'm not very good at expressing things verbally. I can get my point across much better on paper. So, I figured I'd add these letters into my blog entries and hopefully some day my boys will get around to reading them.

Dear Sons:

Today I'm starting what I hope will be a regular project of writing letters to you. I'm always writing ABOUT you, but figured it might do some good to write something meant to be read by you. I don't think any of you have any interest in reading my columns about you. I often think before I write and wonder if I'm writing something that may embarrass you or upset you should you read it or hear about it from someone else. I try to be conscious of that as I share stories about each of you.

In this letter, I want to emphasize how proud I am of all of you boys. Why? Ok, I was inspired by an old guy on a late night talk show. It's a comedy/talk show hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. It's on way past your bedtime, so you probably don't know who he is. And some of his stuff isn't quite appropriate for you - which is why it's on so late at night. Anyway, Kimmel's show has been on for quite some time. I don't watch it regularly, but sometimes catch a little bit of it when I'm up late. And you know I am up late OFTEN. I'm quite a night owl, something I've been trying to reverse for years to no avail. One of the characters on his show was his Uncle Frank. Frank was a retired police officer who Kimmel brought on as a security guard and included in lots of his skits and monologues. He was a humorous guy who was funny without really trying. He had a cute demeanor - friendly and a bit nonchalant and apathetic about some things as men in their 70's sometimes become.

A couple weeks ago I tuned in and Kimmel was talking about Uncle Frank and laughing. After a couple minutes I realized that Uncle Frank had died and Kimmel was sharing his memories about him. He talked and talked. I looked at the clock and it had been nearly 15 minutes with nothing but talk about Uncle Frank and no commercials. Kimmel eventually went from laughter to tears and soon I was weeping along with him. He said one bit of advice that Uncle Frank gave everyone was "Your kids know you love them. Tell them you're proud of them." It's completely true. Kids know they are loved. I, like many parents, verbalize it pretty much daily. I'll give you guys a hug and a kiss (if you'll let me) and say "I love you." I often say it when I tuck you in or say goodnight to you. However, it's not very often that I say the phrase "I'm proud of you." And I really am. I just don't tell you.

So many of the things you do make me proud - when you share something with one of your brothers or look out for him, when you express sympathy for someone who is hurting, when you do a chore without me telling you to, when you offer up the money in your own piggy bank if you know money is tight, when you sit in bed and read at night not because you have to but because you want to, when you set a good example for your brothers, when you put a lot of work into something, when you exhibit responsibility, when you show respect, when you get a good grade, when you say something to make me smile exactly when I need it. I probably comment more on things I'm not happy about than what I'm proud of. I promise I'll say it more and show you more how proud you make me. And it's all thanks to Uncle Frank.

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