My father is always in motion. Whether it’s putting hardwood flooring in the living room, making lunch for one of my brothers or designing a “jig” or “fixture” that will improve the manufacturing process at his plant – he’s always doing something.
He’s an engineer and wrestler, which is why I suspect he feels most valuable when he’s doing something. Seeing my dad tackle a problem or project is like watching a master chess player– strategic, pragmatic, and with singular purpose. Movies aren’t his thing (unless it’s a documentary) and he doesn’t read books all that often. Primarily because once he finally stops moving, he almost immediately falls asleep.
When our family was young and my parents just had two sons – Sven and me – we had a bed-time routine. Mom would make sure we brushed our teeth, put on our PJs, washed our faces, and picked out a book. We had a collection of about 40 Berenstain Bears books. As brothers will, Sven and I would argue at any opportunity – except for picking out the book at night. We had a truce on that front because we wanted to get into their bedroom ASAP to “wait.” Mom would call, “Doug!! It’s time to read to the boys.” As she tracked him down in the middle of whatever project he was working on, Sven and I secretly took the opportunity to jump up and down on their bed.
Of course Dad would often come in and catch us in the act. He would pretend to be mad – warning that we might get our heads stuck in the ceiling fan if we jumped too high or sternly inform us that it’s “reading time” not “jumping time.” Then he’d pick up the book we chose and lie down with one of us on either side. In retrospect, I imagine he was more envious of the energy we still had at 8pm than anything.
The poor guy rarely ever got halfway through the book before falling asleep. As soon as he drifted off, Sven would poke him to make sure he was asleep and I would count to three with my fingers. When my 3rd finger popped up, we would both scream at the top of our lungs “READ!” And our startled father would bring his hands to his ears – many times snapping his glasses over the bridge of his nose. There are many years of photos where my father is pictured with glasses that are taped across the bridge.
I’m about the same age now that my father was then, and his dedication inspires me. Even though Sven and I are still in doubt as to how a number of those books ended, my brothers and I never had a doubt about who was the priority in both of our parents’ lives. Nor what the priorities should be in our little lives – brush your teeth, eat your veggies, read your books, apply yourself in school, and love your family.
A father, brother, uncle, and cousin can be a powerful example in a child’s life – even if he konks out doing the right thing. My father’s commitment to my brothers and me – one of his favorite projects – is why I believe PTA’s Million Hours of Power campaign is so important, and why as grant writer for PTA, I applied to get $250,000 from the Pepsi Refresh project for this important campaign. Vote for PTA’s Million Hours of Power in the Pepsi Refresh project, then encourage everyone you know to vote for PTA.
– Stefan Romberg is the Grant Writer for National PTA based in Alexandria VA. His parents, Doug and Thea, live in Maryville, TN where they raised him and his three younger brothers – Sven, Seve and Stian.