By Jon Williams
When I was growing up, I always remember how sports played a big role in the family. My dad had grown up playing High School baseball and football and my brother, who is eight years older, kind of followed in his footsteps. My brother did it all. Football. Baseball. Track. Soccer. He was a pretty good all-around athlete.
Growing up, I always watched my dad attend my brother’s various sports competitions, and, if he got the chance, he would always end up being an assistant coach or head coach of the team my brother was playing on. Which was cool. Looking back, I see how that gave my brother and my dad some time to bond and something to talk about.
Now, having my brother as my hero, I tried following in his footsteps. My dad was pretty jazzed to have me go out for various sports teams and when I made them, it was an instant bonding moment. I’m not a complete klutz or anything. I was somewhat athletically gifted. We connected like he and my brother did. But, then something happened.
As much as I love sports, I found myself drifting toward another extracurricular activity in Middle and High School.
I loved it. I loved acting. I loved telling stories, and anybody who knew me then knew I loved to talk. So, theatre just became a place where I excelled.
But it was a place my dad knew very little about.
It wasn’t a competitive sport, it was . . . the arts.
But my father did something that, at the time, I probably didn’t realize the full impact of. Something that, now that I am a father myself, I hope I can be for my children.
See, once I stepped into the theatrical world, my dad didn’t stop being involved with me, my life or what I loved. Instead, he decided to do whatever it took to be involved in my life. He chose to connect with me and bond with me . . . through what I liked to do.
My dad and a couple of other dads got together and formed a group that helped build the sets for various productions I was in. They called themselves THE CREW. They had T-shirts and even stamped the bottom of every set piece they made with their logo. It was hysterical. And he never missed a performance. I could always hear him laugh in the audience, too. I would quietly beam in the wings when I heard him out there.
And now that I look back on that time, I think how lucky I am. I had a dad who, despite not having ever been involved with theatre in his life, took what skills he had and used them to stay connected with me, his son.
I hope to be like that with my kids. I hope my dreams for my children never trump my children’s dreams. I hope that I will have the insight my father had in choosing to help me become who God was shaping me to be instead of trying to make me into who my dad wanted me to be.
What role will you play in your child’s life? His story, her story, is one you still have a part to play. But it just may be that you have to write yourself into their story in a way that is different than you would expect. It may not be the way you planned, or a way that feels natural to you. But it may just be the way they need, and something they will never forget.
Jon Williams works for Orange and is a writer/actor/producer for 252 Basics Curriculum. He and his wife Sunny are proud parents of Dora and Bobby.