How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

In the Name of our Fathers

Posted by , under NOTEBOOK


It was a cold, windy day on the grassy plains overlooking a beach in San Francisco. The wind filled sails and people sat bundled up, pretending it was a summer afternoon. San Francisco had that effect on people. It was anything they wanted it to be.

My father jogged over to a payphone, pulled a quarter from his pocket and rang my mother. “It’s such a beautiful day. You should bring the boys down here. And we can fly some kites. It’s perfect.”

“Stephen, the boys are with you.”

That was the day my mother had a talk with us about what to do if we ever got lost, though it was more for my dad than for us. His chemically-sourced absentmindedness was an origin to many stories that started more or less in this way.

Mom’s directions were simple. Find a responsible adult. Learn your phone number. Learn your address. Learn to dial “911.” Times were much different. Technology wasn’t as suffocating and the news every-hour-on-the-hour coverage about scary abductions, though the “stranger danger” mantra was fast becoming a common phrase.

In hindsight, those instructions for our urban life as two young boys seem rather liberated. Loose. They were important enough to remember, which we did, but almost unsafe when compared to the guidelines most of us have now.

Today, I am confronted with something I could not anticipate before I became a father. Now that my son is one of those kittens that you cannot herd, at the tender age of four years-old, I have to teach him about being lost and finding his way.

However, this lesson isn’t what confuses me. It’s the response to a question I posed on our Facebook page and my personal profile:


“Who do you tell your kids to seek out if they get lost?” Simple enough, right? Not really. Some of the answers are just frustrating. Out of nearly 120 comments (ruling out the obviously humorous or ridiculous ones), more than half of commenters said some version of “FIND A MOM.”

Here are some of the responses:




Okay. Yeah. Those weren’t helpful. How about these:





Don’t get me wrong, I understand. A whopping 96% of assaults are committed by men. I’m not telling anyone to stop saying “find a mom” here. That works for me. In fact, it’s smart. Moms are parents. Parents with kids would intuitively be the right choice. But are we stigmatizing men and fathers in so doing? Even just a little bit?

I’m not saying men don’t commit these crimes. That’s not it. I’m saying our actions can be informed by statistics, but our attitudes must be guided by context. The location, the people in question and the specifics pertaining to the form of the moment are all crucial details that, if unobserved, keep us generally fearful of others. Especially, and unfortunately, based on their race or sex.

In the end, I’m asking you to look at this in a different light, from the point of view of a man who deeply and unabashedly loves his children, and, by proxy, any child who is in need. As my friend Whit said:

“I explained that the problem with teaching children that men are bad is that some of them might actually believe it — children that have fathers and brothers or those that will someday be men themselves. It was a terrible and ignorant weight to put on a child.”

I’ve had women ask me, sharply albeit inquisitively, which child was mine at the playground. I’ve had random, uninvited kids climb all over me and seen the eyes dart in my direction, watching my every move as I sheepishly try to stop them from making me a human jungle gym. It’s unacceptable that I couldn’t be a safe person to help a child in need, and that the odds aren’t perceived as in my favor.

This isn’t an edict but a simple request for an adjustment in how we look at keeping our children safe as told by a child who endured the very thing we’re talking about now.


44 Responses to “In the Name of our Fathers”

  1. Without question, the statistics are staggering regarding men committing assaults. Yet I wonder if those stats are being viewed in context. For example, are Dads as a whole included in those figures? What percentage of Dads would make up the total figure? If the percentage were 5%, 10% or even 20% doesn’t that equate to a high probability that seeking out Dads if a a child is lost would still be a relatively safe choice? Media (print, online, video, movies, games, etc.) drive the narrative of what should be considered true or at the very least, common knowledge. Casting a light on facts as well as uncovering the multiple layers behind those facts is key to providing the complete picture to an increasingly short attention spanned populace. Not easy. Baby steps. Thanks for asking the question Charlie. – Vincent

    • Charlie says:

      Not sure the panel would look so different, because like most people, I am skeptical and not an aloof parent. I don’t want to put my boys in harm’s way. I agree though that there multiple layers of human filth and sickness mucking up our ability to see straight on this.

  2. mom101 says:

    I admit it. I totally tell my children to look for a mom.

    However, I have girls. In general, they are more likely to take another woman’s hand–a friend’s mother, a teacher–than another man’s hand. Especially as they get older.

    I really hope they develop a positive impression overall of men and fathers based on the wonderful ones in their lives. But I think the challenge is that in light of a potentially dangerous situation, I’m going to go with the safety experts and statistics. We’re talking worst case scenarios here. And If I’m to be honest, I can handle the need to rectify an erroneous impression of men, but I don’t think I can handle the consequences of a kid approaching the wrong person in an emergency situation.

    It’s that age old dilemma of weighing your ideology with the best interest’s of your children, to oversimplify. Like putting your kid in a G+T private school even when you’ve always believed in public schools.

    For another thoughtful perspective, I still remember this post from Lisa Belkin’s NYT column a few years ago. Great comments.

    • Charlie says:

      I certainly don’t want to rank philosophy over practicality, and not having girls may or may not be coloring my opinion here, but there has to be some kind of discernment beyond a generalized “men are dangerous” or that we can’t be trusted. Context, for me, plays a large part in that decision-making. All I’m asking for is a little bit more credence be given to dads. Not giving over entirely, just a shift.

      That being said, I don’t want my boys to be in a position, nearly ever, where they are alone with an adult where something could happen.

      Ultimately, if I can help my sons be better men, and hopefully fathers, then maybe they can help improve this image from within.

      • Andi says:

        Charlie, I’d have my little girl come to YOU in a heart beat. But in worst case scenarios where I can’t guarantee a you-daddy, I think my best bet for her is a mom. Times are changing, for sure. There are more you daddies these days, but the scary person is still a concern. I don’t think I’m teaching her that all men are scary by asking her to look for a mom. I’d like to teach her how to tell the difference between a scary man and a you-daddy, but without that, mommies are statistically safer.

        My thoughts on teaching kids about the awesomeness of dads and of men is that daddys teach that by being awesomely involved like you. Moms teach how incredible men can be by having a loving relationship with their kids’ dad and sharing the load with their partner. Kids watch that stuff.

        Not every woman is good. Not every man is bad. Not every parent meets a standard I would be comfortable with for my kids. Having my kids grow up watching the right example of good moms and dads is the best thing I can do to protect them against the wrong thing when I’m not around to show them.

        Talking with my daughter about the difference when she can’t come to us is a bigger challenge. We teach little girls that they need to be ladies and need to be polite, but we haven’t been historically great about teaching them how to protect themselves when those rule no longer apply. Knowing that she knew the difference between what scares me and a you-daddy, and what to do to be safe in each case would make it easier to tell my kid to go find a you-daddy when she needs help. Because you’re right. She’d be safe with you.

      • mom101 says:

        I think all these points are great, and really making me think.

        But to be sure, I’m not saying “men are bad/men are dangerous.” I just say “look for a mom with kids because she’ll know what to do.”

        I really hope they don’t take away from that that men with kids don’t know what to do. Because that’s not the point.

        I guess it’s like how we’re no longer supposed to tell kids to look for cops, because men in uniforms (security guards, handymen, etc) can look like cops–or worse, be trying to look like cops. So I’m not breeding distrust in cops with my kids, I’m just providing an different solution.

        Thanks for a great post. I really will have to think about this one. And I agree with Andi, we need more you-daddies!

        • Charlie says:

          No, definitely wasn’t implying you were saying that. More the consensus of people I’ve talked to. And thank you for commenting. Twice. Amazing. You’re a smartypants.

  3. Jess says:

    I’m a bit of a shit head for being so buried in catch up work yesterday not to chime in when you posed the question. Ever since day one, we’ve told Dylan that if he gets lost, to find someone who looks like they’re a Daddy or Mommy. Always leading with “Daddy” because of precisely what you said about stigmatizing the impressionable.

    There was even an instance where we became separated in a very, very busy place, with plenty of “Mommies” to choose from and we ultimately found Dylan with a sweet, single man in his late 20s/early 30s (like his own Daddy). The man was crouched down beside him and as we approached, Dylan was finishing up telling the man our first and last names.

    As parents, it’s important to protect our children in the moment, yes, but it’s more important to protect them for the long haul. That, to me, includes making them feel safe around male adults.

  4. Mr Lady says:

    Never in a million years (or 16) has it crossed my mind to tell my kids to only look for women. Not once, really. I always just said “uniform”, and was really unspecific about that uniform. I think a gas station attendant would help them as much as a cop. Now, of course, I tell my daughter to look for a starbucks, because those people can handle the most anal coffee ordered, so they totally can handle a kid for a few minutes.

  5. Sheala says:

    In regards to the statistics, I’d rather keep my children safe than worry about a grown man’s feelings. If you’re a good person who’s doing nothing wrong then own it. Who cares what others think? I will continue to tell my children to seek out a mom with kids over anyone else.

    • Charlie says:

      You missed the point entirely. Kudos!

    • It’s not about men’s feelings… what a ridiculous statement. Your child is safer with an adult than without. Period. Unless you have managed to lose a child in a pedophile commune or near an Al Qaeda training camp then the regular everyday dangers such as traffic, exposure, injury without medical attention pose a much greater risk to them than the infinitesimally small chance they will somehow pick a guy out of the crowd who has a dungeon and a basket for lowering lotion into the hole.

      • JimMacQ says:

        “Your child is safer with an adult than without. Period.”

        Maybe not. As a child, I always felt safer by myself than with my dangerously unpredictable alcoholic parents.

        Too many parents don’t know what their job is. It’s not to make sure your children are safe and protected every minute of the day. You’re not raising children. You’re raising adults. Becoming an adult requires taking chances, shouldering responsibility, becoming self-reliant and learning how to look out for yourself. Your child can’t do that while being monitored and smothered and packed in bubble-wrap every second of the day. Kids, especially over about the age of 9, do not need constant supervision and a squadron of adults around them all the time. They need the freedom to explore and wander a bit. If you don’t give them that, you will find them living in your basement at the age of 40 arguing about Star Wars on the internet while mommy makes their lunch and does their laundry.

        With my kids, if we went to Disneyland or even the mall, we always just picked out the most prominent landmark, a flagpole or clock or Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and said “if we get separated, we’ll meet you right here.” It was always something you could see from anywhere in the area. We were pretty certain that even at 5 years old, they would be perfectly safe standing by themselves for a few minutes in a public place. And now they are all grown up and it turns out we were right.

        • mom101 says:

          Are you dissing arguing about Star Wars on the internet?

        • I’m not suggesting a lost child should be raised by any adult they see. I’m saying a young child is in more danger without an adult than with one in most situations. Even an alcoholic abusive, terrible parent is not likely to be looking for another kid at the playground to hit and can help a child find their parent, a police officer or another person more willing/capable to help.

          Not sure about the rest of your commentary on bubble wrap and smothering. We were discussing how to prepare a young child for being lost, not exactly helicopter parenting in my mind. There is a big difference between playing alone with a parent’s knowledge and looking up (as a young child) and realizing you have been left, got separated in a crowd or have inadvertently wandered away. As for the anecdote about a 5 y/o at Disney… I didn’t wear seatbelts and rode in the back of pickups as a child, just because I survived doesn’t make a great idea.

          As for my kids, they will not be allowed my spot in the basement and they know better than to argue Star Wars with me. Brb, gotta see if Mom can make me a sandwich.

    • John E. says:

      IS there a statistic that shows a father in public with his kids is likely to be a danger to other children? I don’t thinks so.

  6. Jason says:

    The more I read you guys on this site, the more convinced I am that you guys are inside my head, writing my thoughts on the screen (in a much more coherent manner, of course). Thanks for writing this article and for talking about slightly controversial topics. Keep up the good work.

  7. The problem with statistics is that without context they are meaningless, and to use them to justify compartmentalizing people as “safe for kids” and “not safe for kids” is really pointless and ultimately destructive when it comes to teaching our kids not to fear certain people. FBI statistics show that the majority (~65%) of crimes against children and families are committed by white people, with less than 1% committed by Asians, but you don’t see anyone using that to justify telling their kids “Look for an Asian person.”

    There was an “I tell my kids to look for a mom with kids” article a few years ago that got spread around, and I remember my disappointment that the vast majority of the comments agreed that it was better to specify “mom” and leave out dad, justified by out-of-context statistics. I remember feeling the same way as you do, Charlie. I will say that in the responses to your question on FB there were a LOT more “mom or dad” replies than I’ve seen previously, so that gives me some hope that there HAS been something of a small shift in the right direction. or maybe your readers are just ahead of the game. 🙂

  8. Lucas says:

    I have always taught my kids that they need to stay where they are and ask for help from an adult or worker wherever we are. Whenever we are going to be someplace with lots of people we write my cell phone number on thier hand in sharpie so we don’t have to rely on an upset child to remember our phone number.

    I know I have been in the situation before where a lost child has come to me. As a man, it’s a delicate dance though because there is a real fear among males that we will be cast as a molester simply for helping. I think its sad when you have to be so careful because just being accused of something like that can ruin you, even if the accusations are 100% false.

  9. Jason Greene says:

    Similar to your mom, I made my kids learn phone numbers. I also told them to look for safe places to go, such as hospitals (They’re everywhere in NYC), populated stores, and restaurants. They are not to go anywhere with a person though and that includes an office.

    I stay away from telling my kids of a type to look for. There’s no reason for them to seek out a mom or a dad for that matter when a store is close by and they can scream that they are lost.

    I don’t mind if people tell their kids to look for moms. My mom was a great woman and so is my wife.

  10. Tom B. says:

    I normally tell my daughter to look for people in certain roles.

    I tell her to look for parents with kids, because if they’re hanging out with kid, hopefully, they’ll have empathy towards another. I tell her to go into businesses because those people are rooted to a spot, they have responsibilities, they have ties to the community, and hopefully they’ll be quick to call the police or let her use the phone. (And, hopefully, not turn her into a gimp. We did have conversations about good businesses vs. bad businesses.) I tell her to look for people with a civic role – mail carriers, police officers, etc. Gender has just never come into yet. It’s much, much more important for me to tell my daughter to either find someone with kids (because how else is she supposed to identify a mommy or a daddy?) or find someone with ties to the community (business owner, officer, etc).

  11. Ayreka says:

    I am one of those that responded to seek out a mommy. I will admit that I use that strictly out of my own fear. As a kid that was abused myself I know just how easy it is to become a victim. I don’t tell my kids to seek out any uniform or just anyone. I tell them to find,specifically, a mom with kids or to call or find a police officer or fireman.
    I am conscious to be sure to allow my kids to respond nicely to men who speak to them in public when they are near us and I try not to paint men as fearful creatures. My family is filled with police officers, firemen, and soldiers and they are all played up as being great men who help people. The kids having been around law enforcement know that you can’t tell bad people from good people based on looks and that in an emergency situation it is best to go the safest way possible.
    I hope that with all of the positive male influences in their lives that they won’t view men as bad people, but rather the world in general as a place that they should not be fearful of as much as they should just be careful in.
    I hadn’t thought about this situation in the way that you presented it. Thanks for giving me some food for thought.

    • Tom B. says:

      This is a great comment. I had one quick follow-up question – you said you tell your kids to look for a mom with kids – what about a dad with kids?

      I totally understand where you’re coming from, in terms of being nervous around predatory men or at the very least the spectre of predatory men, but, if a man was surrounded by his own kids, is he just as potentially threatening? Would the prescence of kids help that anxiety?

      • Ayreka says:

        For me it doesn’t really help because my abuser was a family member. I know that what can look unassuming on the surface can be the devil in disguise. That said, I wouldn’t scold my children for speaking to another child’s father on the playground or for playing with one. I really would only be nervous if they were alone and very young. I have to bite my tongue often and try to conceal my anxiety from my kids because I really don’t want them to be fearful people.

        • Tom B. says:

          I know exactly what you mean about concealing your anxiety from your kids. I do that all the time. I know my daughter is going to have anxiety – we all do – but I want them to be her own anxieties, not borrowed ones that she picks up from me.

          Thanks for your response. 🙂

  12. Daddy Files says:

    The thought of a lost kid remaining lost simply because they were told not to trust men breaks my heart. And, frankly, pisses me off.

    I tell my son to look for someone in uniform, to memorize our phone numbers, to call 911, and to look for other kids with their parents and go to them for help. If you’re truly concerned with safety and playing the odds, it makes much more sense for your kid to go up to a dad instead of bypassing help and staying lost longer just to get to a mom who may or may not be able to help.

  13. I guess “find a payphone” was not the response you were looking for.

    I didn’t answer your question, but I am one of those assholes who is unlikely to ever consider having a male baby sitter in our house and who always asks if the dad or older brothers will be home when my children (the boy or the girls) have have a playdate at someone else’s house. Then again, I don’t (and won’t) have a swimming pool, either. I figure there are enough inherent risks in life without allowing extra ones that can be prevented.

    All that said, if you’re ever in a park with your boys in Atlanta, I don’t have a problem with my children climbing on you.

    • Charlie says:

      Nothing asshole-ish about protecting your kids. That’s the context I’m talking about. We can be informed.

      And thanks for letting me be a jungle gym. I need my face kicked in a bit more.

  14. Great piece, Charlie. I think the best thing parents can do is teach our children how to deal with situations, not how to make judgments about people based on appearance. You may talk to strangers, you may ask strangers for help, but adults do not need help from you. There is no reason for you to leave the area you were lost with an adult and no reason to enter a vehicle with an adult if you are lost. “Find my parents and bring them to me or call the police, now” should be your qualifying statement. If an adult wants you to go somewhere, find another adult and tell them what is going on too. Helpful people want to help you and will be patient with you. Bad people will not. Crowds are best, adults with other children are good, people in uniforms are usually helpful, but any adult if you are lost and scared is capable of helping you. Scream when in doubt. know your phone numbers, know how to operate a phone and how to call 911 from any cell phone (it can be done, but they need to be taught), know your address, stay put unless there is an obvious external threat.

    It is also about how we as parents react. If you lose your child, yell like a Viking without hesitation. Cover the exits, enlist others to canvass the area, call the police.

  15. Sylvia says:

    This never even occurred to me. My child is 2.5 and is hard to keep contained at the best of times. My husband and I have started talking about this with the kid and without thinking, we said “find a mommy or daddy with their kids or a police officer, paramedic or fire fighter” admittedly, a paramedic might seem hard to pick out in a crowd but Daddy is a paramedic so the tot knows what to look for.

  16. Caira says:

    I think I would still teach them to look for a momma with kids while they are little, because that is the easiest thing to identify. But at the same time, I don’t freak out when I see my son talking to a strange man at the park, I keep my eyes on him, I don’t want him to be afraid of everyone. If that man made a move to pick up my son for no reason or lead him away I would be there 100% in a flash. Teaching children to fear everyone isn’t a healthy way to raise a child. Teach them to be confident, trust how they feel about people. That is the child who when being led away by an adult they don’t know will run, shout and make a ruckus if the adult will not let them go. I want my children to be confident and responsible, not fearful and reactionary.

  17. Chryss says:

    I was at a major aquarium several years ago, and spotted a lost child of ~3 years old. I immediately scanned the area for her parents, and caught sight of at least two other women who had noticed the child and were looking around as well. The parents found the child in quick order, but it really stuck with me that here we were, 3 women seeing a lost child, and each of us hesitated to step forward and help the child directly. There is so much concern about stranger-danger that we, the caring adults, didn’t want to look like a danger to the lost child. It’s sad, really.

  18. lucy says:

    I think a lot of the “Search for a Mom with kids” as opposed to “search for a dad with kids” has to come from the experiences Mom’s have had with men in their lives. If they are a person who suffered a trauma like sexual abuse because of a man, they are more likely to tell their child to go to a mom, because they think it is safer. Yet we forget how many women have abducted and abused our children. I have not had this talk with our daughter and it is an important one to have with her soon.

  19. Chris says:

    I taught my kids to seek out an adult they can trust, maybe another family with kids. As a stay at home dad, my kids would probably not think twice about asking a dad for help. But, I emphasize with them that they are to never get in a vehicle with that person and go anywhere. When we head to an event where it is crowded, we pick a spot that would be a rally point if they were to get lost and make clear that they are not to come look for me, that I will find them. For this reason, I have taught my kids my cell phone over our home phone, though they know both. People in uniforms, like police officers is a good idea but only if kids can accurately identify them as such, something a younger child probably cannot do.

  20. Hillary says:

    I have an autistic son, who’s verbal but does have many problems. When out shopping we use something called tottoos. They are a temporary tatoo that says “If I’m Lost Call: ” then the phone number. We have specified officer because it’s easier for him to understand because to him all women are mommies and all men are daddies.
    My normal daughter has been told to stay put and I will find you. She did this great a few months back. She wouldn’t talk to anyone in Target but she held the employees hand and cried. Her crying led me to her 4 isles back.
    My husband gets those same looks Charlie. He is usually the dad playing with all the kids in the park. But because he’s 6’3″ people see him as a bad guy right when he would be the first to help and protect any child. I understand people’s fears, but I also see many mom’a who are physically abusive to children and the dad makes the better parent. Gender does not equal safe.

  21. Jacki says:

    I think who to ask for help is much different that your feelings of suspicion in child situations. I’m much more comfortable with the former than the latter. My BIL was a single dad to a daughter, and I was told that some of her friends weren’t allowed to stay at her house because of that. Even my MIL seemed to accept this necessity. But I believe with my entire being that we should not act with the assumption that all men are child molesters. There are other ways to mitigate that threat without vilifying and avoiding half the grownups. In any case, interesting discussion.

  22. Nicole T says:

    I’ve also been on the other end – 2.5 yr old wandered off with BOTH my husband and I watching, at a crowded playground while we were OUT OF STATE. How does that even HAPPEN? I LOST IT. And all the other parents were looking at me like I was crazy. No one offered to help, ask what’s wrong, etc. That ticked me off more than the kid wandering.

    I’ve been in that situation where I notice a kid wandering sans parent. Now my strategy is usually to “light-heartedly” engage them – “hello, where are you headed?”. Usually it’s enough to slow them down at least, and give the parents more time to catch up.

    I haven’t even had this convo with my son (now nearly 4). I guess I need to now. My strategy will probably be “stay put” AND “if you see a parent (daddy or mommy) with kids/a grandparent/person in a uniform/with a nametag ask for their help and tell them you are supposed to stay put!”. I guess the idea of staying put when lost resonates with me, since that is strategy when lost in the woods.

  23. Melissa says:

    I think telling my daughters to look for a mom or dad with kids is a great answer. I don’t see how a dad with kids is in anyway different than a mom with kids. I do think that a parent, of either sex, is a better choice than someone without kids, just because they have experience with kids. However, I would also tell my kids to also look for a police or fireman. Interesting fact, I saw something once where they put a crying child on a corner to see who would step up to help. Overwhelmingly, it was a woman who noticed the child and asked if they needed help. This goes for police officers too. It was not a scientific study, but I thought that was interesting. Still, I stand by my thought that a parent or a police officer of either sex would help them if they are lost.

  24. Kenny says:

    Oh, this is an especially personal issue for me.

    I always laugh when people blindly obsess over statistics and then tell kids to avoid men because if they’re going to fixate on stats then I gotta say they want their kids to seek out dads like me as numerous studies have shown open and out dudes are extremely safe.

    But, sadly, of all dads, I get viewed with the most suspicion and am part of a group that is routinely demonized. (Cue Boy Scouts. Cue Briggs Initiative from the 1970s. Cue laws aimed at preventing joint adoption.) And the most tragic part of this situation is that by wrongly casting suspicion and focus upon men like me, it diverts attention away from real predators and those who do pose a risk to kids.

  25. Leyla says:

    I will tell my children what I was told. Find another child, ask it to take you to teh person they’re there with, and ask that person for help, but do not leave the area and don’t go into any/another building or any car. If someone tries to remove you from the area, despite you telling them not to, yell, scream, bite, kick, hit, anything is allowed, as long as you stay there.
    If something has happened to your parent, stay until your other parent arrive, or your “trusted person” does. (the trusted person is a short list of people we’ve told them are trusted and safe.)
    If they’re there with another person but their parent and has lost them, they’re to do the same as if that person is a third parent, obviously.

  26. Brandon says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with this. When I was in college, I had a friend who actually managed to get me a job at a daycare, which isn’t easy, and is almost unheard of. I’ve had a soft-spot for children ever since I helped my sister take care of her first when I was 13 years old. However, despite me working with the children multiple days a week, and the kids loved having a male role-model/jungle gym, I was never asked to watch any of the kids after hours, even though everyone else I worked with, all females, did all the time. This implied to me that I was able to be trusted when I was being watched by other “responsible” adults, but that a male is not able to be trusted by himself.

    I agree that it is usually men who commit these crimes, but it isn’t always men, and it isn’t all men. I think that men are a very important part of a child’s life.

    Proud soon-to-be father 🙂

Leave a Reply