In early June, of 1991, three very memorable things happened in the same day. First. I sat and witnessed my little girl take her first steps, all by herself. It was amazing. It was a huge deal. I was so excited that I set the second memorable event in motion. I called my wife at work to tell her.
That’s about all she said. Then silence. Not good.
As soon as I got off the phone, my IQ went up about twenty points. I realized what had happened. I was off work that day. I was at home with the baby. She was working outside the house, helping pay bills. I was in the place she wanted to be, doing what she wanted to do. She wanted to be home with the baby. She wanted to see those first steps. She had been the one spending the most time teaching her to walk, anyway. Bad idea. Maybe I should have played dumb and just gotten her to do it again after she got home.
It was bad enough the little booger had managed to say “dada” before she said “mama.” That was rough, too. I know, it’s easier to say, but still rough. By the third kid, I finally got it right. My little boy spent a ridiculous amount of time in my lap, listening to me say “mamamamamamama.” He said “mama” first.
The third thing that happened that day, was something I heard in my head. Maybe God was speaking to me. Maybe I was just talking to myself. Either way, here’s what stuck with me as I watched her take those first steps.
“Everything you teach her, from now on, is enabling her to walk away from you one day.”
It was kinda hard to process. I wasn’t sure what to think about that. I understood it, just wasn’t sure how I felt about it. By teaching her to walk, I was reducing her dependence on me. I was giving her the ability to leave. It provoked some mixed emotions. At that moment, sitting on the floor, my baby suddenly looked like an adult to me. I understood that she wouldn’t be a baby long.
We never did the “baby talk” with our kids. We just talked to them. Nobody else in society was going to speak to them like that as they grew up. Why would we teach them a language that they had no use for? We understood that we only had limited time with them. These kids were going to grow up fast.
We understood the importance of self confidence. We made sure they understood how important they are to us. They know we love them. They hear it everyday. Whether they want to or not. I made a point of never passing by them without making contact. A word, a conversation, a pat on the back, a hug, an impromptu wrestling match. Something.
Anyway… That same kid blew me away again, two years later.
I had been asked to speak to a group of teens. Simple enough. Small group bible study. Something I wasn’t really qualified to do, but that never stopped me. While trying to explain to them that God loved them, in simple terms, something awesome happened.
One of the kids interrupted me. They couldn’t understand how a loving God even allows sin. Why does He tolerate it? Why can’t He stop us from doing bad things?
During my weak attempt to give a decent explanation, my toddler pushed her way through the group and walked up to me. She came right up and tried to climb up in my lap. I had to help her, a little. But, once she was up there, she reached as far around me as she could. She hugged me tight and then just stayed there.
I am big enough to chase this kid down and force her to sit with me. I am powerful enough to make her sit on my lap whenever I want. But there’s nothing like having her do it because she wants to. She made a choice. She decided to be here. She made the effort to be here. She has responded to my love for her. She knows I love her. She loves me. That is a free will decision, responding to love. We have the ability to make those choices.
My kid taught me that.
There’s not really an earth shattering revelation here. Just wanted to ramble.
The relationship with your kids is critical. They aren’t a nuisance. They aren’t in the way. They are a gift from God that you are responsible for. They will enrich your life and give it meaning. The are part of your purpose. They will test your faith and your character. Parenting is a challenge. No doubt.
I am learning the value and power in making their dreams come true. Finding the things that they love and enjoy, making those things happen for them. One loves surfing and hockey. We are doing all we can to get him out there. One is an absolutely amazing artist. We are building her an online art studio. We have a young writer, who is already published.
(Links coming soon)
That little toddler, who taught me so much…
Singer, dancer, artist, all of it. She is fascinated with tattoos. My little baby girl is working with a local studio, becoming a tattoo model. Not what I expected. (Probably not what most readers expected, either.) But, she is my girl. I love her and support her. Not without interjecting the standard dad concerns, but still supportive. Her dreams, her desires, her choices, her life. The best we can do is be available and make sure they know that they are loved.
And, no. I am not apologizing for my kid. She is grown. She can think for herself, and that alone, is amazing.
Don’t like it?
Get over it.
The guy who goes through life, entirely concerned with only himself, misses the good stuff. Selfish people miss out on human relationships and legitimate interaction. Everyone is seen as a resource. Friends are used up. Relationships are only maintained for the benefits. They only give to get. It’s really bad when a guy like that has a wife and kids. The damage can be unimaginable.
Take some time with your kids. Really get to know them. Don’t use the time to coach or judge. Just get to know your own kids. Every moment might not be a magical life lesson. But every moment creates an opportunity to be a stronger family. Every moment with those kids is good for both of you.
Don’t waste them.