The Game Father

24 Sep

God Father and ToddlerWhen my 10-year-old nephew found out we were expecting Szaba, he was so excited. He wanted to be the godfather.

There was only one problem: We’re not religious. Wait! Don’t click away. I’m not trying to convert (or un-convert) anyone. I simply regard spirituality as a very personal undertaking. You do it your way, I do it mine, and we’re all happy. Good? Good. As I was saying …

I was raised in a Catholic household and thus understood the importance of such a request, especially in the eyes of a child. The godparent-godchild relationship is a special bond recognized by the whole family. Essentially, it’s a mentoring relationship, someone you can always count on beyond your immediate family.

It was something I wanted to support, for my nephew and my daughter, especially given my nephew’s proactive interest in Szaba’s life and his recent losses of both his doting Grandma Sue and sweet Great Grandma Shirley.

Ryan and I talked about it and conceptualized a solution: The Game Father.

Our nephew knew the importance of gaming in our personal and professional lives. Plus he and Ryan had spent many vacations and holidays playing games together. (Ryan first taught him to play chess … when Aaron was four.) So, this “The Game Father” title was no trivial thing. By asking this of our nephew, we were asking him to do godfather things like supporting, understanding, and listening plus he and Szaba would share the bond of learning (about games and one another) through play.

We wrote him a letter, telling him all this and proposing his new title. We sent it with a copy of Settlers of Catan.

HE WAS THRILLED. And he accepted.

Whenever we see him, he takes Szaba under his wing and takes his duties very seriously. On holidays and birthdays, he sends her special notes and packages. He personally picks out his gifts, choosing toys that will nurture a love of play, from a bathtub basketball hoop when she was a baby to special set of LEGOs for her second birthday.

Aaron Szaba Godfather

Grandmas Sue and Shirley went to special lengths like this for Aaron and the rest of their grandchildren when they were alive. Szaba is the only one of those grandchildren to grow up without their generous involvement. This game father concept has given my nephew a proactive way to keep their spirit alive for himself and for Szaba—in the process giving both of our families a happy reminder of their legacy.

Last month we went to visit The Game Father, and a couple of his friends came over to meet Szaba. My heart melted as he proudly explained his a one-of-kind title and its importance.

All because we listened, appreciated, and weren’t afraid to get creative.

Listen. Appreciate. Get creative.

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3 Responses to “The Game Father”

  1. Jennifer September 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    I love this story so much! It’s bringing tears to my eyes. I remember when you first told us about the Game Father. What a special gift to them both.

    • Angela Taylor Hylland September 25, 2012 at 8:29 am #

      Thanks, Jen! The thing I love best is that we’ve gifted them with not only a unique story and relationship, but also the example that you can be creative, think outside of the box, and march to the beat of your very own, very special drum.

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