I am very conscientious about raising Story to be an independent, compassionate, and self-confident woman — and modeling that for her. But as a single mom, I don’t often think much about the importance of having a good male role model for her. As usual, Story taught me another lesson, though not directly. She and a friend were talking about fishing. Neither knew how to do it, but Story said without hesitation, “Peepaw will teach me.”
Peepaw is my dad. He and my mom live a couple of hours from us, so we don’t see them all the time. In fact, Story hasn’t seen my dad in quite some time. Even so, Story had no doubts that her Peepaw would teach her whatever she wanted to know. My dad is a very outdoorsy guy and takes Story on walks through the woods, pointing out different secrets of nature. At one point, Peepaw told Story to look up into the trees and marvel at their beauty. Story promptly replied, “Are you trying to teach me how to be old?” I catch her looking up at the trees now and then.
Peepaw has been distressed about the fact that Story doesn’t know how to ride a bike. She’s eight years old and a master on a scooter and has absolutely no interest in riding a bike, but bike-riding is a rite of passage in our family. So, this weekend, we went down to my parents’ house, and Peepaw promised to take her fishing if she would learn how to ride a bike. He took Story to pick out a bike, and she came back excited. He and my sister Brooke worked with her until she kinda got the hang of it. Then she traded in the bike for a fishing pole. She and my dad were gone practically all afternoon.
It’s great that he buys her things and teaches her stuff, but the most important thing is that he is there for her, and Story is completely secure in that knowledge. She never doubted that Peepaw would teach her to fish, and he came through. In doing so, he modeled reliability, patience, and caring. In just that short amount of time, he strengthened their relationship by listening to her, respecting her, encouraging her, laughing with her, and simply spending time with her. She may not realize it, but she will come to expect those qualities from men. They may think they are just having some fun, but they are creating something far more powerful during their time together, and I couldn’t be more grateful.