Dear Starbucks Dad,
I hope you don’t feel shy or awkward about me writing to you in this way but this is just a small acknowledgement of your commitment to fatherhood. I don’t know what your personal circumstances are, so all I can comment on is what I see most Thursday evenings when my son goes beaver scouts. He’s there for one hour, not long enough to go home, but time enough to sit in the local Starbucks and read, write or just think.
Even though I’m usually deeply engrossed in whatever, I’m aware of you and your son enjoying some quality father/son time. Actually, and I hope you don’t think me rude, but you are rather difficult to ignore. A six-foot black guy, in a leafy suburb is always going to attract attention, let alone one with a raucous laugh, a cute son and – here’s the shocker – a dynamic and engaging relationship with his son! This crashes through the received wisdom of neglectful black fathers.
You both love computer games and you play animatedly and noisily against each other, with the grace and rivalry of old friends. Your attention is fully focused on your shared activity, no computer work or mobile ‘phone calls to distract you. When I get to Starbucks, either alone or with my daughter, you are already there, and we usually leave before you.
My daughter, whose own father has been brilliantly absent from her life, commented that however short or long the time is that you spend with your son, and whatever else may be going on in your lives, you have established a pattern of routine and consistency around your father and son time. And reflecting on the recent London riots as well as the depressing statistics of fatherless households, particularly in the black community, your commitment gives us hope. For that, we high five you!
Yours, with gratitude from all of the fatherless children and adults.
© Suzy Rigg