He gave me a high five and his mother smiled.
"I'm so glad you're here. He doesn't have a lot of good male role models in his life."
None of them do. At least the six little boys that I, along with the other child advocate, took care of while their mothers sought domestic violence counseling in group.
The boys ages range from nine months old to five years old. And there are others as well who I don't see because they come on different days.
I don't know anything about their home life because we don't talk about it; I'm not a counselor and don't pretend to be one. Some of the mothers who come to the women's center were initially hesitant about my volunteering, even scared (I'm only the second of two men who have volunteered to date).
But they've warmed up to me. Again, I have no idea what their lives are like. I can only imagine based on my childhood and what my mother went through.
What's amazing to me is that, for all things considered, all of them seem pretty well adjusted. The two youngest ones sat on my lap while we watched the older boys bust a gut shouting and playing with plastic dinosaurs and superheroes.
And the fact that someday "they'll" grow up and befriend, even date my daughters, motivates me to be a positive influence.
I plan to continue the child advocacy and eventually get into the center's mentor program (like a Big Brothers program).
But this post isn't self-congratulatory; it's a call to action for other fathers and men to get involved. There are women's centers in almost every city, Big Brothers Big Sisters programs and many other programs where guys (and gals) can get involved for the betterment of children's lives.
You really can change the world in only one hour per week.