We All Need a Pat on the Back Sometimes

I’d like to share a little story from when I was a new father. My first son was just over a year old when my daughter was born. It was hard having two young babies so close to each other. Little did I know that a third baby would be coming just a year and a half later.

Having those first two children helped to inspire me to start this website. In fact, I started it just two months after my daughter was born. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you suddenly have almost no free time and you can’t even get a good night’s sleep anymore.

Special Experience with My Daughter

Anyway, the point is that I had a lot to get used to as a new father. And it was hard. I often felt overwhelmed and like a failure for not being able to do things right the first time. It didn’t help that I was under a lot of stress between working and paying hospital bills for the baby delivery.

When I held my babies, I had a habit of patting them on the back, partly as a means of burping them and partly as an outlet for nervous energy. One late night, before my daughter could even talk, I was holding her in my arms and rocking her. As I was patting her on the back, the most amazing thing happened. I felt a little hand patting my back in return.

My little girl, who could only communicate in the most rudimentary ways up to that point, had managed to communicate something so special to me. She was acknowledging my pats on her back with a pat of her own, as though she was saying that she recognized me and cared. It felt like the ultimate statement of appreciation for all my hard work in taking care of her.

What I’m saying is that we all need a pat on the back from time to time. Life is hard, even if we’re doing our best to be patient and good. My daughter gave me a literal pat on the back that felt like a figurative one. It was as if she was saying, “I love you, Dad.” I have loved her right back all through the years as I’ve watched her mature into an almost-teenager today.

Pat on the Back

This reminds me of a scene near the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. After officiating at his friend Spock’s funeral, Admiral James T. Kirk is sitting in his quarters. His glasses, a birthday present from Dr. McCoy, are broken and he’s struggling to read his birthday gift from Spock, an old copy of A Tale of Two Cities.

In this moment, Kirk is at his lowest. He’s just suffered the most devastating loss in his life, and he has no one to talk to about it. No way to relieve his suffering. He sits there broken, not knowing how to keep going.

And then the most amazing thing happens. His estranged adult son David walks in on him and politely asks to talk. David’s whole demeanor has changed. He’s been arrogant and rude towards Kirk the whole movie, but now he suddenly is being kind and thoughtful. He helps Kirk admit that he’s never confronted death before and that he knows nothing. But then he reminds Kirk of his wise words from the start of the film, “How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.”

Having said that, he apologizes for misjudging Kirk. And then, as he rises and begins to walk away, he turns and says, “I’m proud… very proud to be your son.” The acknowledgement of Kirk as his father and the tone of vulnerability in his voice stir something deep in Kirk. He approaches David and embraces him in a fatherly hug.

And guess what. Kirk pats his son on the back, just like I used to do with my babies. I don’t know if David patted his father in return, but whenever I watch that scene, I think of that moment with my daughter.

What We Need

As I said earlier, we all need a pat on the back – someone to tell us we’re doing a good job. It doesn’t necessarily change anything materially. But it’s good for the soul to know that someone else cares about us and is assuring us that we’re on the right path.

Some people need a good kick in the pants to change their ways. But when we are trying to stay on the strait and narrow, it’s easy to feel like we’re not making any progress. We still hit low points, which can seem unfair when we’re doing our best to be good. If you’re struggling right now with something, or feel like you’re not doing as well as you think you could, I’d like to give you a pat on the back.

You’re doing great. Keep going. I was able to make it through the challenging phase of raising lots of babies at the same time, and things have gotten much better. I’ve hopefully grown quite a bit in my role as a father. My kids all know I love them, and they can finally respond beyond returning my pats on their backs.

Just in case I needed another reason to love Star Trek II, I’ve got it. After all, “It’s a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before” to raise my children in a loving home.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and four children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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