My father wanted me to be as well prepared for life as I could be. He was attentive and took time to correct misconduct when needed. He was home enough, and I was into mischief enough, that it seemed I was in “the doghouse” throughout my childhood. He was not austere but was simply unable to let any inappropriate behavior sink too deep into habit before being corrected. I was a sensitive young man, and I never took his correcting very well. He had a practice, however, which always repaired my hurt “little boy” feelings and brought us close even when I felt he was very demanding. On Sunday afternoons he would often say, “Let’s go for a walk around the track.”
I grew up on a small farm in northern California, and every spring Dad would disc and scrape a flat track around the perimeter. It was approximately one third of a mile around, and we used it for running, driving practice, and to bring loads of fruit home from the orchards in the pickup truck. Dad and I would walk around that track and talk. It was usually a one-sided conversation at first. Dad began by reinforcing the folly of my misbehavior but then spent the bulk of the time reminding me of who he knew I was piece by piece. I can still remember him telling me how handsome I was, what a good boy I was, and that I would turn out to be a great man. He made me feel like I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. This building time would usually open me up so that by the end, I was the one doing most of the talking. It was a deliberate expression of his love for me, an intentional strategy to create a confident young man. I would not be who I am today without his loving correction.
Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Edwin Wells’ story was first published in Seeing the Everyday no. 25. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com.