Category Archives: parenting

Sometimes They Come Back

Stephen King once wrote a short story called “Sometimes They Come Back.” It’s about a man, a school teacher, haunted by the reincarnation of some childhood bullies, now out for revenge and blood.

My story is not so gruesome but still distressing.

Every evening Jen and I pray with the girls then send them upstairs around 8 o’clock. They get ready for bed then are allowed to read or draw or whatever they want to do until about 9 or 9:30 as long as they stay in bed. At that time I go upstairs, kiss them goodnight and tell them lights out.

After 8 o’clock is down time for Jen and me. Time when we can relax and talk or watch TV or read or knit (Jen knits). Time when there are no questions after questions after questions, no endless chatter, no bickering. Time for relaxation after an often long, busy day.

When we send the girls upstairs we expect them to stay up there. Only it rarely works out that way . . . sometimes they come back. One comes down having to tend to her rabbit. Another has a question about tomorrow. Another needs help with her ear rings. A book needs to be retrieved. Or a drink. Or a pencil. And the list goes on.

Sometimes they come back.

Now, lest I portray a false picture, we have great girls. I hardly ever have to discipline them which may be part of the problem. I’m out of practice. I usually wait until my patience is worn thin before taking a firm stand on the issue.

Nevertheless, every time I hear the pitter patter of footsteps on the stairs after we’ve sent them to bed for the night I think of that story by Mr. King.

Sometimes they come back.

And sometimes I get cranky.

Anyone else in this boat?

In My Daughter’s Eyes

A few years back Martina McBride sang the song “In My Daughter’s Eyes.” I love that tune and every time I hear it on the radio find myself getting teary-eyed. You can find a lot out about someone by looking into their eyes; many believe the eyes are the windows to the soul.

I have four daughters who I absolutely adore. Yes, I have my moments when I’m irritable, short on patience, and don’t give them the attention they need or deserve. But in my moments of sanity (which, thankfully, outnumber my moments of insanity) I look into their eyes and see who they are, who I am, and who I need to be.

In my 12-year-old’s eyes I see a girl becoming a woman, establishing her independence. I see passion and a love for life. There are world’s of ideas and adventures and things to do in those eyes. I see a daughter who loves her dad and more and more is wanting him to see her as more than just his little girl. She wants to be respected and trusted and given more freedoms. But most of all I still see innocence there, which I’m thankful for and want to keep that way as long as I can.

In my 11-year-old’s eyes I see questions, lots of them. Questions about the world around her and how justice works, how love works, how relationships work. I see questions about me: Am I the man I say I am? Will my health fail again? Will I continue to provide for her, for the family? I see a yearning to be accepted and loved for who she is, no strings attached. But most of all I see a tenderness and vulnerability and thoughtfulness there that is refreshing and in many ways inspiring.

In my 9-year-old’s eyes I see mischief and imagination. When she looks at me I see a desire to please her daddy, to make him proud. I see a drive to be somebody more than just the little sister, to make her own stand and be her own person. In her eyes I find genuine kindness and generosity, a heart that wants to serve. I see a childlike playfulness tempered by perseverance and toughness well beyond her years. But most of all I see joy, a heart that loves life despite it’s difficulties, that presses on and finds the ability to smile and brighten a room no matter how dim the lights get.

In my 9-month-old’s eyes I find a sense of wonder as she studies my face, every line, every whisker, every blemish. I find love that can only come from a heart of innocence, unscathed by life as we grown-ups know it. Hers are the eyes of discovery and exploration and awe, seeing the world for the first time, experiencing sensations never before felt or heard or tasted. But most of all I see trust and am humbled to tears by the awesome responsibility I’ve been given.

In my daughters’ eyes I see a challenge . . . to be the man, the father, the husband to their mother, I ought to be, the man they need and deserve. But mostly I find love. Unconditional. Unearned. Unbelievable.

And I’m so thankful for it.

Four of a Kind

I’ve never actually played poker but from what I understand Four of a Kind is a pretty good hand to be holding because the chances are against it.

In families, Four of a Kind is really playing against the odds as well. In a study done by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, 6,000 familes were studied. 463 of those families had four children. Of them, only 67 were all same gender. That’s only 15%.

Why am I telling you this? We had an ultrasound done of our baby yesterday and it looks like we’re holding four of a kind. Another girl! There was lots of kicking and wiggling and grabbing her feet but the doctor got a good look and said there were definately “girl parts.”

So we join the exclusive club of four girls and now I am officially out-numbered. And I love it!

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Our youngest daughter saw the dentist today and had a tooth pulled. Didn’t hurt a bit but now her tongue can’t stay away from the hole left behind. Apparently, this frustrated her because she said to me in all seriousness, “Dad, can you tell my tongue to stop thinking the tooth is still there?”

Oh, if only it were that easy. I’d have a few things to say. I’d tell it to stop speaking out of turn and to think before it goes to work. I’d tell it to stop using words that bite and sting and hurt. To never again tell a lie or use sarcasm. And for the love of Pete to stop inviting my foot to join it. I’d tell it to only speak words that edify and encourage and inspire.  To use itself to spread joy and love.

Boy, I’d have a few things to say to it if it would only listen.

But unfortunately . . . “the tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)

Controlling the tongue is not as easy as simply telling it what to do (don’t I wish). It needs to be tamed first then trained. And that takes practice, will-power, self-control, patience, and lots of prayer.

Anyone have any suggestions for taming and training the tongue? Something you’ve found that works?

The Value of Your Word

Raising children is a tough business to be in. For a lot of reasons.

One challenge we have is teaching our kids the value of their word. When they give their word, when they say they’re going to do something, they need to make good on that. And they constantly hold us accountable for our word.

Case in point. If you ever visit our home, one of the most common things you’ll hear is one of our daughters reminding us or each other, “You said . . .” In fact, it’s so prevalent that it’s become a joke.

The lesson learned here is that kids want to know that when mom or dad say something, they mean it and they’re gonna stick to it. If I say I’ll play a game with them “later” then I better make good on my word. If we say we’ll take them to the store to spend the gift certificate they got for Christmas then we better keep our promise and get them to the store. To our girls, our word is everything. So when we renege on that word or the circumstance changes and what we promised doesn’t happen, we hear about it (“You said . . .”).

Now, granted, sometimes circumstances do change and thus plans must change and thus it seems like mom and dad aren’t keeping their word and when that happens we try to educate our girls that we do our best to make good on our promises but sometimes it just can’t happen. A hard lesson to teach and even harder one for them to learn.

I don’t get into politics on this blog and that’s intentional but there’s something happening now that is relevant and tough on parenting. It seems this whole concept of “keeping your word” has been devalued from the very top of our societal structure. Politicians are notorious for making “campaign promises” and reneging on them but when the President makes a bunch of very clear promises and then fails to make good on his word what’s a parent to do? Whether our girls follow the news or not and whether they’re aware of this or not is a moot point. The point is that our culture makes nothing of the value of giving your word.

It used to be that your word and a handshake was money in the bank. Not so anymore, and it makes parenting an even tougher business to be in.

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