A few weeks ago TJ and I were at a regional conference for his work, and I found out that a guy I was talking to was from Mesquite, which is about sixty miles south of here. I said, “hey, my Dad works down there,” and explained that although Dad lives here in St. George, he commutes about an hour and a half every day so he can teach first grade down in Mesquite. This guy asked his name, and when I told him, I was surprised that he already knew him. He said, “Everyone—well, everyone with grade-school kids—knows Mr. Monnett. Everyone wants to get their kids in his class!”
It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to be away from home and to be recognized as the daughter of a celebrity school teacher. I couldn’t be prouder of him and his life’s work.
You have to understand, my Dad has been crowned king of teachers for good reason. He’s really the coolest teacher ever. He writes musicals for his kids to perform. He makes his classroom into a small petting zoo, complete with habitat-appropriate flora. He makes websites and newsletters to connect with parents and give the kids bragging rights. He designs, sews and wears period costumes to illustrate history lessons. He helps coworkers keep their computers running and he frequently puts on musical assemblies for the whole school. And this is just a little list I can rattle off without thinking too hard. He pours so much time and talent into his teaching that it really comes as no surprise when, years later, his students reach out to him with thankful hearts.
You might think that a guy like that was just born to his calling. But Dad was actually born to be a musician. He sticks at his work, year in and year out, not because he feels called to it—but in spite of the fact that he feels called away from it. And why?
He does it for us. Since I was born 35 years ago, Dad has faithfully and devotedly worked at jobs he did not love, even working through bouts of debilitating illness—to support our family. As the years went by, and our family grew, Dad worked harder. He set aside his own interests and dreams, he wore thrift store clothes and drove beaters, he got up early to read scriptures with us, and he stayed up late worrying about us. He taught us to sing. He taught us to play. He taught us to work. (Oy! did he teach us to work!)
Because Dad put us first, we all enjoyed the great luxury of a full-time mom. Because he put us first, we never went hungry. Because he put us first, we avoided about a million pitfalls that could have given us a great deal of pain. Because he put us first, we knew he loved us.
In a world that tells men they are not important or necessary to the family--in a world that encourages self-fulfillment at any cost--men like my dad are increasingly hard to find. He had to choose between two creative dreams, and instead of choosing to be known by many as a great musician, he chose to be know by a few as a great dad.
I'm so glad he chose me over himself. Happy Father's Day, Dad! I love you!