I watched Derek and his son washing my car, as I stood at the sink, molding patties for our bar-b-que that night. They were having an animated discussion about something, lots of back and forth over the top of my car. The son is really tall at 15, just like his dad.
Derek does all kinds of work on cars, and on the weekends he and his son keep my car and those of lots of my neighbors in tip-top shape. He’s a really interesting guy. We talk basketball, healthcare reform, the state of LA city schools. You name it, we have chewed on it.
This is an amazing scene, I thought as I was transfixed on this father and son team. Every single Saturday and Sunday they spend at least 16 hours together, washing, waxing, detailing cars. I wondered if they knew how lucky they both are, if they appreciate the significance of their hours together every single weekend. I left my kitchen perch. “Hey guys. I have been watching you two yakking it up, and I just wanted to tell you how cool I think it is to see a father and son working together, chatting it up, chewing the fat, schmoozing. Do you know how great that is?” They both just smiled, nodded, and were silent. And then the son said, “My dad and I are really close. We talk about everything.”
How many dads would, seriously, trade places with Derek?
Derek added, “Last week I was doing this guy’s car and he came out to show me his new Rolex and to tell about the car he was thinking about buying. I have it so much better than he does,” Derek said with total conviction. I punctuated his comment with my two cents, “No one ever lies on his death bed wishing he had worked harder at the office or earned more money.” Derek knew just what I was talking about.
Derek has been bringing his son with him to work on cars on the weekends since he was five years old. As his son grew up, Derek discovered that he really valued his son’s help. They were a team in getting the work done. Soon another brother is going to be joining them on the job. Ten years ago when this father-son team first got going, Derek didn’t know the gift he was giving his son and himself.
We know how important fathers are in the lives of children. Their involved, active participation in their kids’ daily lives influences all aspects of their development, from social skills to cognitive development. There’s lots of research to support this reality. But influence isn’t just occasional. Derek is impacting his sons’ lives every single day and most especially on the weekends.
Can you imagine what kind of fathers Derek’s sons will be? Can you imagine how they will describe their own relationships with their dad as they were growing up? Now would you trade places with Derek?