Getting Back Up After Getting Knocked Down: A Lesson From My Pre-School Son

My son has been to many of weddings for someone a little over four years of life under his belt. He is at the perfect age for running around the reception, dancing, getting hopped up on sugar and entertaining people of all ages.

He’s slow to warm up, but my four year-old eventually joined a group of various aged children throwing glow sticks and generally enjoying the camaraderie of the wedding reception.

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I looked over to admire him and his new found friends, when I saw a boy of twice his age push him down. I did a double take. On one had I wanted to run over there and threaten this boy.  I didn’t even know his parents, but I was going to wring his neck. The other hand told me to let my son navigate this on his own. The other hand won. I let go and let God.

I waited for the tears and for him to come running to me. I rejoined the conversation I was having with eye contact anyway. Mentally, I was still waiting for my son to come running.

He never came. There were no tears. There wasn’t even any pushing back or a fight that I could see from my vantage point across the room. By the time I looked back at the smattering of youth, they were continuing their game of God knows what.

He handled things and worked through them on his own without my interference.

I remember being in the sixth grade, when the roller-skating rink was the place to hang with friends, jam to various (late 80’s and early 90’s) rock, and flirt with girls. I also remember a particular incident where I was pushed down. Actually, I don’t remember being physically pushed. I remember being threatened to the point of being scared that I was going to be physically pushed and worse.

I called home. My dad answered and came to the rescue. He bailed my friend and I out, so we didn’t have to face the “bully” on our own.

There is a big difference between being four and being 11 years old, especially developmentally. But I feel habits develop early, especially habits in how we handle difficult relationships. My son jumped right back in and stood his ground, eventually he and this older kid were playing around in what looked like to be a respectful and enjoyable manner.

My hope is to raise a boy with the foundation that he can handle difficult problems with his own resources.

He didn’t run for his father to bail him out. (I hope he knows that I would have been there to bail him out.) But he was self-sufficient. I don’t know whether he was quick to forgive or if he had what was coming to him. My son never actually brought this incident up to me and doesn’t even realize I saw what happened, but he moved on. He let it go, and I feel like that’s a good set up for growth.

Road Trip ROI to Honor Mother and Father

Twelve hours on the road, approximately six hours packing, three blowout diapers, one overnight hotel and a car that needs fumigation was the price I paid to spend 26 hours with my parents and siblings. I’m not even taking into account tenting in 43 degree weather. Conventional marketing return on investment (ROI) analysis may say the return isn’t worth the effort for the amount of time spent (subtract sleeping and loading while there).

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But how do you value time spent with growing family and three new babies (one of my own)? I think it’s an example of the cheesy American Express ads:  Priceless.

I’m barely three months in to a new job. My wife is slammed with administering to a new school location for her grade 7-12 special education facility, and our rusty Honda CRV 2000, with 200k miles in sight, is packed when hauling camping gear for my infant daughter and four-year-old son.

We had declined the invitation previously because of the stated above, and then all of a sudden my sister and her family, with my 11 month old niece, were able to attend the cabin excursion.

I couldn’t say no. Maybe it’s because I don’t see my out-of-state siblings often, maybe it was getting the new cousins together with their grandparents, maybe God was at hand imploring me to change my mind. So we packed up and headed out.

The wind blew and it rained with temperatures in the low 60’s 75 percent of the time. There were several temper tantrums (one of these being executed by yours truly), and my sister and her feverish daughter were not feeling well.

And through all of those experiences fun was had by all. No regrets. Stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, campfires, brats and plenty of baby noises with pictures to prove it. 

I can feel what I think God is getting at in Ephesians 6:2 (NIV) when he says, “Honor your father and mother–which is the first commandment with a promise.”

If I had not forced myself to go, I would have held ill will every time I looked back on the memory. My mother said she understood why we couldn’t make it, but I could feel the joy in their eyes watching the chaos of their children raising their grandchildren.

The verse right after in Ephesians 6:3 (NIV), says the reason why. “that it may go well with you and that you may be long-lived on the earth.”

And you know what. I do feel well about the journey. Every up and down that came with it. As far as the long-lived part, that’s up to Him.

Maybe by modeling this for my kids, the ROI will be visits and time with their grandchildren when I’m old and gray. 

Forgotten Matchbox Cars and losing My Sanity with My Parking Ticket

I write about the the necessity of God in my life to be a good father. And I believe it, after all that’s what keeps me writing about it over and over.

However, there are times where I feel like an absolute fraud, wondering why anyone should even take my advice. There are times when complete irritation takes over, and I lose my connection with God.

Like when I found myself trying to exit the parking ramp and I scream out the window in frustration at 9 a.m. I felt I should have been at work. I shouldn’t have forgotten my son’s show-and-tell in my car. And upon exiting, I somehow find the parking-ramp ticket sliding between the windshield and dash, and I’m unable to retrieve it. (I still haven’t been able to retrieve it.)

Now, if I would have been in the moment with God, I wouldn’t have felt the need to holler out the window.

I find that there are certain things–often very little things–that God likes to continue working on with me. Now, in the past I may have gotten to work and chose not to drive the 20 minutes back for my son’s show-and-tell. But I love my son, and what better way to show him my love than to bring his tin of Matchbox cars to school. I know he was overjoyed to show his fellow friends.

Little things like being forgetful have been a notorious reason for me to validate negative self talk. Maybe this is His way of working that out, and showing me just how useless such behavior is.

My son is only four. He’s not going to remember me stepping in to save his pre-school show-and-tell. But if this at least touches the core of his being and verifies his trust and faith in my never-ending love for him, then maybe he will have faith in Our Father as he matures. Thankfully, he wasn’t present when I acted like a fool in the parking ramp.

The saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff,” is one of the hardest things for me as a dad. Walking on the floor with dirty shoes. Snagging two cookies right out of the box instead of one. Threatening with a tantrum over Star Wars Marshmallow Cereal (yuck). Screaming bloody murder when I know she’s tired and just needs to fall asleep. This stuff can be frustrating, but really, it’s all small stuff.

OnlySmallThings

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” –St. Mother Theresa.