You teach your children some fashion sense
And they fashion some of their own
- Gordon Downie

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Most Important Job

This week, I had a meeting with a colleague I admire greatly. I am giving up a sessional instructor position at our local college, a job I have really enjoyed for the past three years. Teaching education students in their final year of university has been extremely rewarding. It has been a wonderful way for my to clarify exactly what I think is important in teaching and learning. Unfortunately, it eats up a great deal of time and leaves me with less energy to devote to my other jobs. I was wearing too many hats and, as my colleague observed at the end of our meeting, "wearing too many hats can make you bald."

I have held a number of paying jobs in my life. Painter, bus boy, toy assembler, hockey school instructor, lawn maintenance technician, substitute teacher, teacher, team leader, vice principal, interim principal. Each of these jobs has been interesting, rewarding and fun in its own way. I honestly don't think of what I do right now as a job. There is a significant distinction between going to work and what I do, which is "going to school." I don't love everything about my job - in fact, writing this post is helping me put off writing report cards, a task that I really do not enjoy. I really believe that what I do is important. My job is meaningful and it helps make a difference. I'm profoundly proud of what I do for a living, but it is not my most important job.

Today is Father's Day, which is the inspiration for my post because being a dad is truly the most important job I have. I have learned this from a number of great role models, like my own father. Last night, mom and dad came to visit us. After supper, my boys, my dad and I went for a bike ride through the river valley in our community. It was fantastic to get three generations out on our mountain bikes and try to keep up with dad, who is easily the strongest cyclist of the group. Even though he is in his sixties, my dad continues to ride, race, teach and promote cycling of all kinds. He works in a bike shop and will be an ambassador for the Trans Rockies mountain bike race this summer. I have learned the importance of passion and dedication from my father. Many of my best memories of childhood involve him.

We used to travel to hockey games, practices and tournaments across Canada and the United States. When I graduated from university, we made a point of doing a major hike or trip each summer. Since I have had my own children, we try to get together for a canoe trip, bike ride or fishing trip on Father's Day. My absolute best memories of dad are the hours and hours we used to spend fishing. We had an old square stern Sportspal canoe. Dad would row and I would sit near the stern as we trolled around, fishing for trout, walleye, perch or pike. We faced one another for hours at a time and I would pepper him with questions when the fishing was slow. We would usually get out three times a day - early morning, early afternoon and later in the evening. I learned so much from my father on these fishing trips and they really are the things I treasure the most.

I have learned from other great role models. My grandfathers were two completely different men. From one, I learned the importance of duty, history and discipline. He was a hard man with a soft spot for animals and children, particularly his grandchildren. My maternal grandfather was a calm, meticulous and caring man. He taught me to shoot pool, play cribbage, mow a lawn, and persevere in the face of pain and suffering. My father-in-law, who passed away last fall, taught me about the sheer importance of having fun in spite of everything that happens to you. He lived his life to the fullest and the enormous crowd at his funeral said everything about the impact a simple man can have on people.

This morning, I woke up very early and had the house to myself. I enjoyed the quiet and the opportunity to get caught up on some things I had recorded on the PVR. My day got off to a perfect start, though, when my eight year old came downstairs, settled on my lap, gave me a big hug and said those words that mean so much to me and serve to remind me of my most important job...

"Happy Father's Day, Dad".

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