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Father's Nightly Ritual Shows Love to Sons

When my sons were little, we used to join hands and have prayer at the end of the day. Then I'd give them a kiss good night. When my son Phil was about 9 years of age, he got in bed one night and said, "Mom, I can't remember whether Dad kissed me good night or not." So, Judy told me. I tiptoed up the steps, bolted through his door like I was a monster, and dove in his bed and wrestled with him and tickled him. We laughed, and I kissed him. Then we just laid there in the darkness for about fifteen minutes and talked—one of those rare special times with your child.

The next night he got in bed and said, "Mom, I can't remember whether Dad kissed me good night or not." So again I bounded through his door and jumped in his bed and wrestled and tickled and laughed.

Every night for weeks after that, as soon as we said "Amen," he would run away from me and get in bed and say, "Dad, you didn't kiss me good night." I would then have to come and jump in his bed and wrestle and carry on. It was a great ritual. …

One night I was in his room. We were wrestling and carrying on. I finally said good night and walked out and walked by his older brother's room. "Good night, Russ," I said. He said, "Good night, Dad." I got to thinking, Every night Russ hears us laughing and carrying on in the next room. Then I go by and just say good night. Maybe he'd want me to do that to him. So I bolted through his room, jumped in his bed, and started wrestling with him—nearly got whipped, if I remember! It settled down, and I decided it was time for me to express how I felt. I have to be honest: I sometimes have a hard time saying to a person what I want to say. I said, "Rusty, I want you to know how proud I am of you and how special I think you are. I want you to know I love you." He said, "Okay, Dad." No big thing! But I felt better because I had expressed it.

The next morning, as I was walking by his door, Russ said, "Dad, could you come in here a minute?" I went in. He hemmed and hawed a bit and pawed the floor, and said, "Dad, thank you for coming in last night. I never get too old for that."

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