Engage the Enemy
“Maintaining and Improving the Morale of the crew is the constant duty of every Captain. This factor alone is perhaps the most decisive in their fighting spirit and the one you are best able to exercise at any given moment.” A Ship Captains Guide to Dadhood.
Children’s bright light of potential can be intimidating and even, at times, a nuisance to engage. Their constant presence creates a dual dilemma in the periphery of awareness; simultaneously they seem to be all consuming voids that drain our every reserve and yet also the very reservoirs for countless someday-type wishes. This simple dichotomy creates a natural resistance in most Dads to voluntarily commit their limited present energy while also abandoning designs for a hypothetical future engagement on favorable terms that are always just a following day, a next weekend, an upcoming season away.
This same dilemma echoes the struggle that faced Britain when they had to manage the business of extended naval warfare against a continent in the grips of Napoleon. England was helplessly outnumbered by their enemy and its resources were stretched to the brink. Yet it was able prevail on the strength and sacrifice of its ship captains. Far from home and far from friends their duty was simple: to engage the enemy.
Though it may be tempting to identify our kids as some enemy to be overcome, the real enemy facing us is the march of time. The moments lost to our inattention and distraction are no less casualties of this battle than if they were ships sunk to the bottom of the deep.
Luckily, not every moment can be a victory of Dadhood for even successful engagements with time leave no survivors. It is lucky because true glory can only exist in masterfully playing a losing hand.
If your moments are to be sundered and torn in a broadside that ripped you from being present, it is your duty to have the cause be worth the sacrifice. Ensuring your crew have a roof, Insurance, a Christmas, are all sacrifices to be borne and borne with pride. Top scores in some video game, tracking scores in some contest on television, or scoring likes and retweets on devices do not fall in to this category and too often, the captains of today are tempted by the siren call of these types of distractions that line the pockets of others and starve your family of your presence, your ideas, your jokes and your rewards.
The England of today is a shadow of the country it once was and, so too, our sacrifices may one day be counted as futile efforts. Our duty lies not in guaranteeing a successful outcome for our kids but, more properly, in building them an opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merits and the merits we help instill in them. So dear Captain, engage the enemy whether outgunned, out-manned, or outmaneuvered for even a losing effort will instill an example in your crew. You can do no worse than not to try. And, when the cannonades fade and the haze of battle clears, may your name be written among the greats.
Your must humble of servants,
Captain A.D.P. of the Fighting Ship Phifer