Niagara Gazette

September 16, 2013

HAMILTON: It pays when fathers take their kids to school

By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Tuesday is the day designated for fathers and other male role models to make an extra effort at being involved in young students’ education by taking them to their respective schools. And brothers, it will pay off in many ways.

Speaking from personal experiences, I was very, very active in my sons’ education, though one of my sons did not always welcome it — at first.

Young Kenneth, the younger of the two, would hang with dad for every minute that he could do so, but Christopher was a very different story. He is like his dad, content to spend most of the day alone. Kenneth’s Tiny Treasures’ day care center was a mile further down the road from his brother’s first grade classes at Hyde Park School and I would drop young Chris off first, and then take Kenneth to his day care.

But it broke my heart on the day that the 6-year-old Chris asked me to drop him off a block before his school, instead of right in front of it as I had always done. Sometimes I would, and at other times I would not. And though he wanted his appearance of independence, I stayed very involved in his education, helping them both with their homework and projects and attending nearly all of their parent-teacher conferences.

Both of my sons graduated from high school. Kenneth went on to the Pittsburgh School of the Arts, became a chef and is now the executive chef at the Talara Restaurant in downtown Baltimore.

Christopher, on the other hand, went into the hospitality business, working at both the Adams Mark and the Sheridan hotels in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and is now managing client satisfaction at the Marriott in downtown Baltimore.

However, notwithstanding that when I visit Baltimore that I can both eat and sleep finely and cheaply, the greatest reward came when the independent Christopher was home for a visit and I was taking him out to dinner. As I drove toward the restaurant, Christopher looked at me and in a quiet, sincere voice, he said to me, to wit, “Dad, I just want to thank you for always being in Kenneth’s and my life. Most of my friends don’t even know their fathers, and I appreciate all that you have done.”

Not that I do so anyway, but when our food was served, there was no need for me to sprinkle salt on it. I had ingested all of that salt that was necessary while we were still on my way to the restaurant; and I did so in the sweetness of all of the tears that I swallowed so that he would not see me cry.

What greater reward could one have that is better than that?

There’s more. I have been the father-figure to many children who were not biologically mine. And I am blessed when I see them all, and all of their children, too. I have long said that it takes but 15 minutes a day to be a dad, or a father-figure, to any child.

So if you want to make a difference to your community through someone’s child, especially your own, won’t you men please take 15 minutes on Tuesday to take a child to school. You’ll not only make a difference in their lives, but you will also discover how sweet the wine of your own tears taste.

Now man up! It pays.

Contact Ken Hamilton at kenhamilton930@aol.com.