Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

Miniature football helmets are everywhere. On any given day, my son’s room is littered with them, with most of the major conferences represented: ACC, Big10, Big12, Pac12, etc. Over the last year he has amassed an arsenal of these tiny replicas—one so impressive that when they’re all out of their respective containers, I feel compelled to intervene.

“Hey, I told you to pick these up!” I shout, gesturing wildly with my hands.

“Ok, Dad.”

“It’s time for bed, let’s go.”

“OK, OK. I will, Dad.”

If he starts cleaning immediately, my anger is placated. Any sloth-like attempt, though, results in further directives.

RELATED: How I Got a Grip on My Anger and Stopped Yelling at My Kids

When I think about the toys we’ve purchased over the years, or even those received as gifts, it’s maddening how infrequently some of them were used. Sure, they brought some joy, but it was fleeting. Interest fades with even the most popular of toys—not with these helmets, though. It’s hard to recall a day, at least in recent memory, when they haven’t made an appearance. At least he uses them, I guess. It makes the anxiety-inducing sight of helmets strewn across the floor slightly more palatable.

With over 40 miniatures to corral, it takes a little time for my son to put them away. The helmets come packaged in plastic cases with individual compartments. They fit snugly and are easy to store. The fact that my son puts them away is hardly impressive, but when I realized, one day, he had done so according to conference, I stopped. Leaning in closer, I examined the containers to inspect his work. All the Big10 schools were together.

Wow, I thought. He did it.

On another occasion, I entered his room to find he had arranged them by color—schools with orange in one area and those with green in another. What about the helmets with two colors, though? When that conundrum arose, it became a judgment call—a matter of which color featured more prominently. He even had a miscellaneous collection for those schools with multiple colors and/or elaborate designs. His fascination with mascots and the mystique surrounding each has long been his MO. From ferocious animals to mischievous outlaws, he loves those tiny helmets.

And then It changed for me. He wasn’t just playing. In his mind he was, sure. But he was counting, grouping by color, creating patterns, and arranging by division. He was thinking—thinking his way through a process.

How many times, I wondered, had I entered that room so eager to scold and missed something.

I can’t see them as I did before, as just toys. I realize there will come a time when he no longer lines the helmets up on game days. A time when Michigan and Ohio State are no longer facing each other at the foot of the bed in late November. A time when a Big12 showdown between the Sooners and the Cowboys will be on television, but not on the mantle nearby. A time when a bevy of orange helmets—from Clemson to Illinois—won’t be clustered at the base of his dresser.

And I’ll miss it.

RELATED: How to Stop Being an Angry Dad

And so now when I enter his room, my approach is softer. I still remind him to pick up his helmets, and he does. There are other times, though, when I don’t say anything. I just look at them.

My first thought is no longer to reprimand. I make suggestions instead.

Arranging them by animal might be fun—large cats, bears, birds.

He seems intrigued when I mention it. As a father, I never want to quell his enthusiasm or discourage his creativity. I missed it before. And so the next time his room isn’t quite up to Mom and Dad’s standards, I’ll be sure to take a closer look.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Patrick Danz

Patrick Danz is a follower of Christ, husband, father, educator, and sports enthusiast. He lives in Trenton, Michigan, with his wife, Nicole, and their three children: Keason, Carmella, and Alessandra. When he's not teaching, Patrick spends his time writing, golfing, grilling, and quoting lines from Groundhog Day. His work has appeared on and Fatherly.      

My Dad Showed Me the Greatest Lessons Are Taught Through Example

In: Fatherhood
grandpa holding donut box with grandson

Waiting at the window, I arranged the blue ruffles on my brand new dress and flipped my hair around to look just right. It was a night to be fancy. It was my first date. My face was flushed as I looked forward to the night ahead. I knew it was a big deal to be taken out and I would get special treatment. I would pick the restaurant and maybe we would have some ice cream and walk around downtown before the sun went down. After that, I was pretty sure we could go to the store and that...

Keep Reading

It Doesn’t Matter How Old I Am—I’ll Always Need My Daddy

In: Fatherhood, Grown Children, Living
Vintage photo of little girl on bike with her dad

I have always been a Daddy’s girl, much to my mom’s frustration.  She always said my dad and I were wired the same, and that’s why it’s always just “worked.” Sure, we have had our struggles and frustrations—when two people think almost the exact same way, certainly there will be battles. But my dad has always had my back, without fail.   Whether he had to question a school decision or staff my senior class retreat (yes, my dad is featured in my high school yearbook), I knew he would be there. He thought he would lose me someday, that having...

Keep Reading

I’m Just a Little Boy, but Daddy You’re Teaching Me How to Be a Man

In: Fatherhood, Marriage
Daddy on the floor playing with son, color photo

I’m only a little boy, still too young to tie my own shoes or make my own breakfast. My days are filled with playtime, snacks, lots of hugs from Mommy, and plenty of tickles from you, Daddy. Right now, my life revolves around me and you and Mommy. I don’t know much about the world outside our home yet. I haven’t learned about responsibility or self-discipline or sacrifice. I haven’t had to find my place in the world yet. But I guess I’m pretty lucky because even though you may not know it, you’ve already begun teaching me everything I...

Keep Reading

You’re the Father You Never Had and I’m So Proud of You

In: Fatherhood, Marriage
Dad and kids walking on beach

Can I tell you about my husband? He’s amazing. He’s kind and doting and loves Jesus, but perhaps his most endearing trait is the absolutely incredible father he is.  In our early days of dating, he was crippled by the fear of what type of father he would be. To him, fatherhood was burdensome, grumbling, abandonment, and fighting for the final dollar during tax season. His experience as a son crippled his anticipation as a father.  But I knew it all along—what an incredible dad he would be. Although I must admit, he has often far surpassed what I even...

Keep Reading

To the Stay At Home Mom From Your Husband: I See You

In: Fatherhood, Marriage

To the woman who sacrificed her comfort zone—leaving her family, friends, and everything she’d ever known—to follow her new husband across the country for his job: I see you. To the wife who pours herself into making a house her home, only to have to move again: I see you. To the wife who put her career, education, and personal pursuits on hold for the sake of her family: I see you. To the mom who went through pain and misery for nine months, only to have motherhood turn out to be nothing like she’d dreamed and longed for it...

Keep Reading

I Struggled With My Son’s Diagnosis, But Found Hope in the Special Needs Community

In: Fatherhood, Tough Times

When I found out I was going to be a father I was beyond excited. My wife and I had been trying to conceive for years before she got pregnant. So, when she told me I was going to be a father I wanted to shout it to the rooftops! I made sure to call my wife every day at work to make sure she ate lunch. I’m sure I annoyed the heck out of her. We later found out that we were having a boy, and started to plan everything. We started to paint the baby room with blues...

Keep Reading

My Son is Growing Up, But I’ll Hold On To the Pictures Forever

In: Fatherhood

A certain part of my heart longs for these moments to never change. I look back on pictures like this one, where my oldest son tastes the salty breeze on his lips for the first time, feeling the sand underneath his toes and laughing out loud at this wholly new experience. I look back and want to freeze it, but in something more than a single picture, more solid than a flimsy memory, more lifelike in substance than what a camera can fashion. RELATED: Stay With Me a Little Longer, Daddy Because that little person who could not stand without...

Keep Reading

I Want My Sons to See How Important It is to Cover Your Wife

In: Fatherhood, Marriage

Transparent moment—I did not always do the best job of covering my wife. Early in our marriage, I was often guilty of being selfish. Our first of four childbirths had contentious moments. From the whistle I jokingly wore on our first trip to the hospital while she was in labor, to me telling her in the midst of her frustration that if we didn’t have the baby that night, she could decide if she’d go into work the next day—I’m not proud of the way I handled some of the challenges. RELATED: 5 Ways To Love Your Wife After the...

Keep Reading

Dads: Your Kids Love Doing Things Because They Get to Do Them With You

In: Fatherhood

This piece was co-written with the author’s husband, Nathan Glenn. I remember my husband taking our daughter golfing for the first time and wondering if she’d enjoy it like he did. He’d dress our kids up in Pittsburgh gear, hoping they’d love the Steelers and Pirates and Penguins as much as he does. When we imagined our someday kids, he hoped he’d have someone that would want to play catch with him and go sit on the banks for hours fishing. Now here we are over a decade into this parenting three thing, and our oldest has her own clubs...

Keep Reading

This British Dad’s Parody of Orlando Bloom’s Daily Routine Has Us Cracking Up

In: Fatherhood

Two men on the same parenting journey see things a bit differently. Read to the end for this British dad’s hilarious take on what it’s like to be a father if you’re not a famous A-list celebrity. Ever since his cinematic debut as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings film series, celebrity actor Orlando Bloom has been capturing hearts around the world. Let’s be honest, we all know why our wives were so excited when Pirates of the Caribbean hit theatres. Outside of fantasy, there’s not much that makes Mr. Bloom relatable to the average Joe. However, parenthood tends...

Keep Reading