KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — I’m a child of the 80s, through and through.
I still have an old Nintendo I used to play on, with games like Metroid and Super Mario Bros. sitting on my shelf. I have a Walkman cassette player and headphones, with an actual mix tape I painstakingly recorded. I still have a Trapper Keeper binder I lug around with me in my backpack, stuffed with various forms and papers instead of homework.
I have DVDs (no, not VHS tapes, unfortunately) of old G.I. Joe, He-Man and other cartoons I used to watch when I was young. Every so often I would show them to my kids to try and instill in them a love for all things 80s. They don’t quite have the same reaction to them that I did though, and I get that. When I look at these old shows, my vision is colored by the lenses of nostalgia, while theirs is usually accompanied by a raised eyebrow or two.
There are many characteristics I see myself in my children, however—some physical ones they inherited and some they simply absorbed from my personality and interests. My son does like Transformers and Star Wars (thankfully), while my daughter—I’ve been told—has my eyes and smile, as well as my sense of humor (although she’d probably look at me funny if I told her that).
While I may not be able to inspire in them the same love for the 80s that I have, I do hope to teach them about the types of values I’d like them to display, and hopefully pass on to their own children someday.
Since this is an Air Force commentary, it would be easy for me to say that I’d like to instill in my kids the same core values the Air Force teaches its Airmen: integrity, excellence and service before self. But, just because that’s an easy thing to say, it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s not true.
I do want my kids to be honest and to display the kind of integrity I’m sure every parent wants to see in their children. It’s the kind of integrity that—despite my many mistakes and imperfections —I hope they see me try to live out, and I hope they try to emulate both now and when they’re older.
It’s that same integrity that I hope will drive them towards excellence in all they do. I realize that’s not always an easy standard to maintain. Being human, we may not always feel like it’s something we want to shoot for in every task we do, big or small. But as the old saying goes, it is the little things that count. And if we can’t be counted on to strive for excellence in the little things, how can we be expected to do so for the big ones?
This drive for excellence extends to the service I hope they would want to provide for others. It’s the kind of service that should come before our own personal desires and, instead, stem from a desire to serve others more than ourselves.
As a father, that’s the kind of service I hope to provide for my children. It’s one of being a good role model and helping to teach them the kinds of values I would like to pass on—not simply out of a sense of duty, but out of love. Those are the values I would like my children to emulate, and that is the kind of love I hope to provide.
It should go without saying that the love I have for the 80s doesn’t come anywhere near the love I have for my children, by any means. Hopefully, one day though, when my children are grown, they’ll look at me not with a raised eyebrow or two, but with the same kind of love I have for them – a love that hopefully they would want to pass on to their children too.