My wife and I finally got our act together enough to watch one of the Netflix movies that’s been sitting around the house this weekend. The movie, Love Actually, chronicles 10 love relationships leading up to the holiday season. The 10 different couples all are intertwined in each other’s lives in one way or another. The film stars Hugh Grant and Liam Neeson, among others and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The best of the 10 relationship stories that we follow, in my opinion, was that Sam. Sam is an 11 year old boy whose mother has recently passed away. He is now being raised by his step father (played by Liam Neeson) who grows concerned over his son’s reaction to his mother’s death. Sam spends much of his time in his room and when he comes out he’s visibly upset and has been crying. The stepfather finally talks to Sam about his obvious difficult time adjusting to his mother’s death where he finds out that Sam is not grieving over his mother. He’s agonizing over unrequited love. The object of his affection is a girl at his school who is the most popular girl and, sadly, does not even know Sam exists. Well, through the encouragement of his father, Sam develops a far-fetched plan to win over the girl’s heart. There is a very touching scene of Sam and father talking about love as they listen to a sappy love song. Ultimately, Sam’s brilliant plan does not work and the girl is leaving the country that night. The Stepfather, not wanting to see his son devastated, encourages him by racing him to the airport, helping him elude airport security so Sam can finally get the girl.
This got me thinking about the relationship I want to have with my son. I’m certain I want no part of the stereotypical father-son relationship where we talk about sports and nothing else. This movie hit home because I believe in the power of love. I believe in hugs and kisses and public displays of affection. I believe in never wasting an opportunity to say ‘I love you.’ I believe that love should be expressed, not hidden. So when it comes to raising my son and teaching him of the concept of love, I have lofty expectations of myself and of him.
To my son Jonathan, I pledge the following:
Jonathan, I want you to see the expression of love as a powerful gift that should not, indeed cannot, be bound by societal norms and male stereotypes. Love is bigger than all of us and well worth the risk. In fact, I want to show you that risking heartbreak is worth it when that love is finally returned and that the only thing worse than heartbreak is regret. I’ll be there to share in your joy of first loves and I’ll be there to support you when you experience your first heart break. I also want you to know that love doesn’t have to be serious. I want you to see that it’s okay to be silly in the name of love. Love loudly! Love goofily! Love like no one is watching! And as you grow and learn about this love thing, I’ll be there encouraging you… to ask the girl next door to the prom, to thank the girl who left home-made cookies on our doorstep, and to treat all women in your life, your mother, your sister and your lover with the utmost respect.
And last, but not least, if you ever need to race to the airport, I’m your man.
I love you son.
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