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A few good men

Jane CollinsThe world needs more good daddies. And so I convinced my husband to join me on a twoweek service vacation at a children’s orphanage in Peru this past March with the ulterior motive of providing the kids with the chance — maybe their only one — to have a positive experience with a wonderful male role model. Fully 70 percent of the 560 kids there were fatherless and the ratio of adult women to men caring for them was roughly the same ratio you’d find at a Nordstrom shoe sale.

I was told that kind-hearted men occasionally volunteered at the orphanage but many of them were older and had the intention, but not necessarily the stamina, to play with the children. Enter my husband Mike — a guy who has raised two wonderful sons, knows his way around any sports field and has the strength to toss kids into the air at will. His very presence inspired awe among the tweens (he’s 6-feet-8), and somewhere on my hard drive I have a great picture of him surrounded by cute little Peruvian kids wearing yellow shirts, all measuring themselves against his waistline.

Mike showed up in full Daddy mode and did all those wonderful things any good dad does. He showed 21 grade school boys how to make paper airplanes. They spent the next 45 minutes launching them from a soccer field, even after they dissolved into soggy lumps. He convinced Kathy, a shy 10- year-old, to grab his hands. Then using his best sign language (especially impressive since his hands were tied, literally), he convinced her to climb up his towering body. She tentatively put her feet on his feet … then on his knees … then on his waist … and when she finally climbed on to his chest he flipped her over backwards. Most of us can remember our daddies doing this with us but none of these kids had ever seen anything like it before, as far as I could tell. And so for 90 minutes each day for the next two weeks, Mike flipped, swung and tossed grade schools kids, only stopping when he collapsed exhausted in the grass and mumbled, muerte (dead).

You could argue that women can do the same thing, and rightfully so. I was the primo kid-swinger on prior service vacations in India and Brazil. But that’s not the point. The point is to say “thank you” to the good daddies everywhere — to those who are and have been and will be — and to encourage the daddy wannabes to find kids in your community or some far-off country who need you to flip them over backwards.

Keep up the good work, daddies.

Get out and give back.

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