Not Alone –
He sat alone in the classroom today, save the examiner, and took his High School Equivalency exam. I sat alone watching him think, strain to recall what he had been taught over the past months. My class for incarcerated fathers was scheduled to begin but this lone test taker was holding us up. That was okay. What he was doing was as important as what we do in our class. We strive to make men good and into good fathers. He was taking a test that would better him and his family. He sat there with no one around him but I knew he wasn’t alone. Good thoughts, prayers, and best wishes were being sent his way by those who had tutored, encouraged and convinced him he could be more, do more and his life wasn’t a throwaway. I knew he was nervous by the way he checked and rechecked his answers, glancing up at the clock which ticked away his test time.
Finally, he finished and hesitantly handed in his exam. A few words to the examiner and he exited the classroom. “How’d it go?” I asked. “I hope good,” was his answer. We chatted a few moments and then he went back to his cell. As he exited the door I knew the hopes and dreams of not just him were wrapped up in that test. I also knew he wasn’t alone and sometimes that’s enough to give us the courage to do what we wouldn’t ever do otherwise.
The Next Step –
Someone asked me yesterday evening; “So how was your birthday? Do anything special?” “Yes,‘ I replied, ‘I started it in therapy and ended it in jail!” I explained that on Wednesday nights I teach an incarcerated father’s class at the local corrections facility.
The two classes I lead are often two highlights of my week. They aren’t always easy classes to teach but they are usually filled with; “Aha!” moments from at least one of the dads. Last night we talked about things we’ve done that we’re sorry for and how to begin writing the rest of our story; one in which we can be proud. Our motto; “Good choices make Good Men make Good Fathers” is not just a catchy phrase but the basis of all that we learn over the 3 month period we are together.
Most of the men in our class aren’t used to making good decisions on a regular basis. What we try to do is figure out how to live a life where good choices are the norm, not the exception. We understand that if we can do this we can build a good life, be a good man, a good dad, a good person, one choice, one step at a time.
I think these lessons are for us all, not just the men in my classes.