We've both been excited about seeing the movie Act of Valor and I had a feeling that it would be something appropriate for him to see and after researching why it was rated what it was, I made the decision that it would be nothing worse than what he saw every time he jumped on the Xbox and started shooting up his friends. If curious, here is my review of the movie.
But, what I wasn't ready for was how important of a moment this was going to turn out to be between us.
A cornerstone of the movie is something being written by one of the soldiers. In it, he describes several qualities for what makes a strong man and it was around those things that after the credits rolled my son and I talked about rather then the big gun fights and cool action scenes of the movie.
These are the moments that you can rarely plan for as a father, but that you always must be ready for.
I talked to Dylan about the importance of being a good man. About how his word is his bond and he must always remember that even if the promise may seem small or trivial.
We discussed why soldiers would do anything to save another soldier's life no matter how dangerous it might be and the bond that forms between close friends.
I wanted him to know that everything laid out on the screen did not only apply to the military, but applied to life in general. He needs to know that above all the bullshit, the peer pressure and the drive to have a happy and healthy life, that it boils down to being a good person.
We talked about how I didn't care what he did in this life, so much as I cared about him growing up to be a man with good manners and respect for those around him. Sure, I want him to be successful in whatever he chooses to do with his life, but it is more important to be a good person than it is to be a successful person.
I have no idea if this will stick with him or not. Fatherhood isn't something you can do once and forget. It is a constant and ongoing path that once you are on, you never get to leave.
He is a young man now and I believe the next five years are some of the toughest and trial filled years in any boy's life. I hope he navigates the waters well and that I help him through them appropriately.
Only time will tell.