A Clarion Call To All Fathers!


In 7th grade I had a gym teacher for about a month who was a substitute for a sick teacher. He was a middle-aged man who seemed nice.  One morning I was in the wrestling room with all the other boys, warming up, rolling around on the mats when he stuck his head into the door and asked to speak to me. I went out the door and followed him into the locker room towards the gym office. The gym office had glass doors all around but it was enclosed. He invited me into the office and closed the door. I was afraid I had done something wrong or that I was in trouble, because I had never been asked to meet with a teacher, alone, in an office. I hardly knew him and I felt a little uncomfortable. He told me that he substituted all around the area and was always looking for “fine young men”, who stood out among the boys he taught. He told me that I seemed like one of these, “fine young men.” He gave me several other compliments and then told me that he was a single man and didn’t have a wife or kids. He said that because he didn’t have a family that he took a trip, each Christmas, to Florida for a week. He said that he always took two boys along to keep him company and that they had all kinds of fun staying at the hotel, swimming, going out to eat etc.. He then told me that he had chosen me to be one of the boys he would like to take with him to Florida. Something inside me made me feel uncomfortable and I wanted to say “No thanks!” But, he was an adult and I didn’t have the courage to say anything. He pulled out some pamphlets and photos of the place we would stay. It did look exciting. A pool! A hotel! Flying in a plane! How cool was that! I had never been on a plane or been to Florida. It was very tempting. Inside, I felt like I wanted to say, “No,” but it was so enticing! Instead I heard myself say, “yes.” He smiled and asked if I thought my parents would approve. I said I didn’t know. He asked for my phone number and told me he would call them that night.

I went home and told my Mom about him.  She asked me a lot of questions and said she would need to talk it over with my father.  When my Dad came home from work,  my Mom talked to him about my ‘friendly’ gym teacher.  My Dad asked me some more questions. I repeated that I wanted to go. The truth of the matter was that even though I told my parents I wanted to go, I really didn’t feel good about it. Something kept nagging at my heart. A warning bell was going off in my mind, but the thought of going to Florida was just too much for a twelve-year-old boy to resist. I remember being in my parent’s room when my Dad told me that they were not going to let me go. I remember the relief of it all. It felt so right. I remember thinking how glad I was that my parents said “No”. When my teacher called  I stood by the phone as my Dad told him that I would not be going.

I look back on this experience with gratefulness that I had a mother and a father who looked after me and protected me.  I have no idea how my life would have changed had I not had them watching over me.   My whole life could have been altered had I gone with this man.  We are given mothers and fathers for a reason. They are here to guide and protect us until we reach a time when we can make “sound” decisions on our own. A few years ago I mentioned this experience to my Father who replied, “That was an easy call!” “Yes,” I thought to myself, “But what if I didn’t have a father who was there or cared? What then?”

Sadly today too many children come from homes where the father is absent and single mothers are forced into the workforce to support her children. Left unprotected, many innocent and pure children fall prey to predators who,  like buzzards, circle our communities looking for the weak and the unprotected. I am left with the haunting refrain of the sixties folk song; Where have all the fathers gone? Oh, when will they ever learn? (Peter, Paul and Mary)

A clarion call to the men of our country to take responsibility for their offspring needs to be sounded, not only by our religious leaders, but also by our civic leaders.  A failure by them, and us, to sound the warning will surely bring grave consequences to our culture that will be irreparable.

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