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Picture Day

School picture day was the worst. We would line up shortest to tallest. Every kid wanted to be first, except on this day. I would shuffle my way to the front among snickers. 

During one of those early Elementary school years, the Goliath in the class would trip over his feet going for the lay up. After the bone in my arm snapped, he lifted himself off me and apologized. 

I wasn’t just small, I felt small. I didn’t know who I was. How to speak to others. How to think of myself. My father was not at home. At the time, it was not obvious to me that this was a big problem. It was the world I lived in. It was gravity. 

As a father, I tell my son a few things about who he is. Strong. Brave. Smart. Capable. With both words and actions, I tell him that I absolutely adore him. That I received the freaking blessing of my life when he was born. 

I remind him he is my son. I am his father. Outside of Jesus, and his mother, I treasure him and his sister more than anything in the world. 

I set my words like rebar inside the curing concrete of his identity. 

Now, he is on the basketball court. On the sidelines I see him make a disapproving face at the much taller boy he was guarding. My son was, you guessed it, one of the shortest on the team. This disapproving look happened a couple more times during the game. On defense, my son stuck to him like glue. On offense, he was the Flash. 

On the car ride home, he gave us the details. 

“That boy I was guarding kept calling me short. He didn’t take me seriously.” 

“I was wondering what was going on,” I said. “How did you respond to him?” 

“I just decided to run circles around him.” 

“Yes you did.” 

“I was all over the place. He couldn’t keep up with me.” 

“No, he couldn’t. What does grandpa tell you?” 

“Dynamite comes in small packages.” 

As a young boy, I would lay in bed at night not understanding the nature of the absence that ached inside of me, despising my height, my lack of basketball skills, reliving those moments that made me feel…small.  

The night after my son’s game, I laid in bed next to him. We talked about his favorite Hot Wheels. He asked his usual barrage of random eight-year-old boy questions. His deep chested, full-bodied laughter coursing through the house when I landed a joke. 

Eventually he slept, no question in his mind of his father’s love for him. Ready to enter into the next day like dynamite. 

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