Baird Naus and the Bird Nose Fellows

(to my son)

“Be kind to everyone you meet, for every person is fighting a great battle.”
-St. Ephraim

Daddy has a bird nose.

You know, the one you smack, grab, and honk when we’re wrestling?

I discovered this cold, hard truth while walking home from the bus stop in 4th grade–thanks to two outstanding scholars from another institution of learning. Wise 6th or 7th graders.

These two chaps brilliantly used the Socratic method to educate me. (I’ll explain the Socratic method in more detail when you’re older, but it basically means asking someone else questions to spark their learning and discovery.)

One fellow asked, “What are you looking at, Bird Nose?”

Or maybe it was, “What are you looking at? Bird nose?”

The other fellow remained silent. (Also part of the Socratic method.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Surely, they mistook me for their friend Baird Naus–a local boy of Gaelic-Dutch ancestry–or they were curious if I was looking at bird noses.

No, no. It was clear. They were helping me realize what I had been unaware of all nine years of my life: I had a bird nose.

Despite spending the remainder of the afternoon studying my bird nose in the bathroom mirror, contemplating that evening how it was possible I hadn’t seen it before, and wondering during each afternoon bus ride for the next 134 days until the school year ended if I’d encounter my two new mentors again, I’m now grateful.

You see, if it wasn’t for their assistance, I would’t be the man I am today.

I wouldn’t have earned my grades, awards, and scholarships.

I wouldn’t have attended a fine university, competed in collegiate athletics, and developed my skills with world renowned organizations.

No, it had nothing to do with hard work and sacrifice. It had everything to do with what kind of nose I had.

And that’s why I owe those fellows a lifetime of gratitude.

Son, so far it doesn’t appear you have a bird nose. I’m sure there’s something about you, however, that someone will help you realize one day. You’ll have your Bird Nose Fellows in your life soon enough.

I hope you’ll do one thing when you meet them: Be kind.

Be kind because you don’t know the battles they face in their lives.

And thank them for inspiring a fantastically creative name for your future mega-popular band: Baird Naus and the Bird Nose Fellows.

Daddy expects back-stage passes when you make it big.