Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Not long ago, I sat in church and noticed a young visiting couple having difficulty with their little one. As I watched, the young mother got up once during the worship, once during the announcements, and once during the message—three times— to take her little troublemaker out. Meanwhile, the dad sat there and did nothing. He was passive.
It reminded me of Adam in the garden when Eve was being tempted by the serpent. Eve discussed, listened, and ate. Then she gave the fruit to Adam “who was with her.” He had been there the whole time and done nothing. He had been passive. His passivity did not benefit his offspring.
When I was a young tyke, too young to remember the incident directly, I acted up in church. (My mom has related this story to me out of her compassion.) Apparently, I made enough noise to disturb the people nearby. My dad swept me into his arms and marched out of the auditorium and down the stairs to the basement of the church. There, he “warmed my bottom.” Then he instructed me that it was time to “dry it up,” meaning it was time to stop crying. In the intensity of that one-on-one moment, I calmed myself.
Then Dad carried me back upstairs and into the auditorium. After about five steps in, I saw Mom and let out a wail. That was a big mistake! Dad immediately whirled around, took me back downstairs, and again warmed my bottom. Knowing my dad as I later came to know my dad, I imagine he said, “Now, I mean, dry it up!” I did my best, sniffling and snuffling, but far from crying and wailing.
When we re-entered the auditorium this time, I managed to keep my noise limited to those same sniffles and snuffles. There I sat, through the rest of that morning, beside my dad, muffling my snuffling as well as I could.
Whatever age I was, that was the day I learned to listen in church. That discipline has served me well through the years. Because of him, I listened, I learned, I responded.
“Shorty” Currie was an involved dad. He didn’t sit back and watch my mother carry the family. He stepped up. Today, we need more dads like Shorty Currie. I am sure that he probably made some minor mistakes along the way, just as we all have. But he got the main things right: Don’t be a passive dad, take responsibility, lead the discipline charge.
This week, if he were still alive, William Carnelious Currie would be turning ninety-one. My brother, my sister, and I have benefited from his fatherhood. He was an active and effective dad.