Inner City Diary
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Dad's Day Shouldn't Be a Day of Mourning
June 20, 2004
I heard the screaming as soon as I turned the corner. On Tuesday of this past week, I was walking back to the church following a community meeting. As I turned the corner from Ellice onto Maryland, I immediately noticed a noisy disturbance about half-way up the block.

I considered all kinds of horrific options as I sprinted up the block to the scene of the scrap. It might be a gang fight. It could be a mugging or perhaps just two drunks fighting. I even had the perverse thought that it might even be an impromptu sidewalk election debate between overzealous campaign workers. I thought I had considered all the options, but I wasnít prepared for what I saw.

An aboriginal woman had pinned an adolescent boy to the sidewalk. He was doing his best to get away, squirming and screaming as if the woman was trying to kill him. I looked closer and saw she wasnít hurting anything but his pride as she simultaneously restrained him and searched his pockets.

I asked the woman what was going on. She responded that this boy was her son. He hadnít been going to school, hadnít been coming home and was causing trouble in the neighbourhood. Having found him and caught him, she wasnít going to let him go. She wanted him to come home.

I looked at the boy and asked for his side of the story. He didnít dispute any of the school attendance or community trouble stuff. He said, ďI donít want to go home because she tortures me.Ē His mom responded, ďI guess he figures that grounding him and taking away his video game and friend privileges are torture.Ē

A few passersby glanced at the group of us on the sidewalk. Most of them had that urban ďI donít want to knowĒ look, while the faces of others hinted at mistaken assumptions about what was happening.

I looked at both again. The boy was calming down a bit, not trying quite as hard to kick or push his mom. It was obvious he wasnít hurt. The mom, on the other hand, had tears welling up in her eyes. She had skinned her knee on the sidewalk while retraining her son, but I knew the tears were not about her knee. In her eyes was a painful mixture of embarrassment for having to parent in public and sadness for the attitude of her son.

He still didnít want to go home, and I knew she wouldnít be able to haul him home on her own. I told the boy that if he didnít want to go home with his mom, I would have to call police to escort both of them home. The mom figured that would be the best option.

I admired the fact that, instead of covering for her sonís misbehavior or blaming others, it seemed this mom was trying to deal with it directly. I was sad for her, however, because itís tough parenting a kid that doesnít want parenting. And I felt bad for her boy, realizing that his wisdom and restraint are presently no match for his rebellion.

Itís not easy being a parent these days. Especially some parents. Especially some kids.

For the past few weeks, papers have been crammed with sale fliers reminding us that Fatherís Day is nearing. Today the day is upon us.

But Fatherís Day is not all it could be in many places in our city. Our streets abound with fatherless youth.

Any given year, any given place, you can be sure that thereís lots more people that celebrate Motherís Day than celebrate Fatherís Day. For some, the former is a celebration while the latter may as well be a day of mourning.

Donít get me wrong. This is no slam on moms raising kids alone. The mere presence of some men may be worse than their absence. It all depends on the guy.

Some guys seem fixated on getting into a womanís Fruit of the Loom, with little subsequent interest in the fruit of her womb. Others settle for maintaining a presence without ever providing an example for their kids.

As a dad who knows thereís still room for improvement, Iíve got a simple thought for my fellow dads this day.

Instead of waiting or wishing for gifts from your kids, do your best to make your life is a gift to your kids. A glance of love or pride from them will mean more than any gift.

Oh, and if you remember Ė say a little prayer for that 12 year old rebel on Maryland. It wonít be long before he can sire a child. I pray that he waits til heís ready to be a father.
Copyright 2004
Rev. Harry Lehotsky
Rev. Harry Lehotsky is Director of New Life Ministries, a community ministry in the inner-city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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New Life Ministries
514 Maryland Street
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(204) 775-4929

lehotsky@escape.ca