It’s Father’s Day. I can tell by the plaintive cries as the wee ones walk in line, holding their rope so they don’t get separated from one another in their sorrow. Daddy has come to be honored and now has left the house. What can one do, but cry?
My office sits right outside the classroom of our toddler class. One of the things I get to observe from this place of privilege is the formation of fathers. It is the annual observance of Father’s Day in our Orientation class. For many men, this is their first rodeo of parenting. Others are now old hands. They come to school to be present with their toddler, entering their child’s daily turf and filling it with wonder.
Fathers are made in the practice of everyday. The quotidian rhythms of remembering the lunch box and holding hands mold fathers. By their daily engagement fathers punctuate the lives of their children with novelty.
Such practice leads to children who are capable of walking on their own, even as they cope with their feelings of sadness and separation–trusting that joy comes in the morning or after a walk to the fish pond. Fathers invite play and responsibility for yourself.
This week St. Stephen’s begins the process of expanding our ministry to the youngest of our children and by extension to their parents. We are renovating our nursery to accommodate more children on Sunday mornings and an additional class of ten 15 months to 3 year olds during the week. The materials in the room will be in keeping with the Montessori pedagogy we practice to empower children to discover their strength and capacities, even as infants.
The room will be doubled, as a wall comes down and one space flows into the next. Workers will renovate on one half of the room at a time, installing new toilets, kitchen areas, play space and storage. Our Sunday nursery will be moved next week to the back half of the room temporarily. Check it out as our community empowers the nurture of children and their parents.
Men don’t just fall into fatherhood. While it is easy enough to sow seed, any real gardener knows that cultivation is a daily affair. I give thanks for the men in our community who practice this daily art of parenting, whether of their own children or our villages.