Recently some close friends asked me to become Godfather to their daughter. Take-the-cannoli jokes aside, I was touched to be asked, and really quite honored, and so I agreed. Then, Readers Mine, I realized that I really didn’t know what a Godparent was supposed to do. I mean, none of us are Catholic, so the traditional role of someone who sponsors a child at baptism and oversees the kid’s growth in the Church doesn’t apply. Not to mention that Ramona (a pseudonym based upon an uncanny resemblance to the Beverly Cleary character) was baptized several years ago anyway. Then there is the fact that, while Ramona’s parents and Mockingbird are all at least semi-regular churchgoers, I only tend to show up on the highest holidays, and then only if and when Mock’ asks me to. So as a religious guide I’m less than ideal, though I have some experience with undertaking a spiritual journey. Still, it leaves me wondering: what’s the deal with being a Godparent in the modern age?
Well, after some quick and dirty internet research, I found an article on AskMen.com by Steven Shaw that defines the basic responsibilities of a good godfather as follows:
“It is absolutely essential that you be a positive role model to the child. This means ensuring that you display all the positive characteristics that the child should develop. This ranges from basic things such as having excellent manners and high standards of behavior to things such as good personal grooming, being health-conscious and fit. It also means that you should not smoke or swear in front of the child, nor should you drink to excess. Being a positive role model also means having great self-esteem -- if a child looks up to someone with good self-esteem, it is more likely that he will also grow up with good self-esteem and will benefit from all its advantages, both socially and professionally.”
Me. A role model.
Readers mine, I tell you true: a few years ago, the very idea of me as a role model would have been ludicrous. The idea that doing the hard work that it takes to be a good man is truly a worthwhile endeavor is a fairly new one in my life. That I might have something to teach or pass on to a kid strikes me as unlikely, but it’s flattering as hell. Maybe I’m looking at it more deeply that I need to, but I’m unlikely to have a child of my own and if I’m going to be a Godfather, I probably ought to take the responsibility seriously. Which means more soccer games (yay!) and dance recitals (ugh) in my future, and more work, and getting to watch a beautiful, intelligent little girl grow up, with, potentially anyway, a chance to help her out now and again. Not to mention the opportunity to spend lots more time thinking of Ramona rather than myself.
Which brings us back to that spiritual journey I was talking about, doesn’t it?
Good deal, this Godfather gig.