“Daddy, please don’t make us take our Lego houses apart,” pleaded my ten-year-old daughter. Her little sister joined in. “We worked so hard on them, Daddy.” Their pleas were understandable. These were no ordinary Lego houses. They were three-story, multi-room mansions — custom built homes made of hundreds of stray pieces from Lego sets they’d collected over the years. But we were moving and there was no way to pack the Lego houses without them being crushed. While the thought of making the girls tear down their mansions made sense to my head, my heart was torn. They had combed…
The story of two dads, two boys, and one Father
The other night I had a dream about my dad, who died over two years ago. I was in the fellowship hall of the church we attended when I was a boy, and I (as an adult) called his cell phone number. This was odd because I knew he was dead and wouldn’t answer the phone, but to my pleasant shock, he picked up. “Hey-lo!” Dad said in his twangy Arkansas accent. My heart leapt. I hadn’t talked with him in months — I thought I couldn’t talk to him anymore. “Hey, Dad!” I said, but then I looked up…
My mom played a board game with me, and she changed my life
I’ve spent a lot of time on the floor with my kids playing with all kinds of toys, including blocks, baby dolls and board games. The kids love being there with me and I love being with them too. One person they can thank for that is my mom. Mom never had a prestigious job; she didn’t feed me organic foods; and she didn’t enroll me in a Spanish immersion school. We didn’t have a lot of money, so she didn’t give me lots of toys either. But here’s what she did give me: her time, her attention, herself. And in doing so, she gave me a…
Dear Ramón: a letter to my imaginary son-in-law
One morning when my youngest daughter was 3, she got out of bed, met me at the stairs, and with quiet sincerity said, “Daddy, I have a husband.” “Oh really? What’s his name?” “Ramón,” she said, pronouncing the name “Wah-mone.”
I never wanted my daughter to be called this name — then she heard it in kindergarten
One night when my daughter was in kindergarten I was putting her down to sleep, and as I was leaving the room, she said, “Daddy, a girl at school called me a mean name.” “What was it?” I asked. She covered her face with her hands and said, “I don’t want to say.”
God bless the rude DMV clerk who taught me this wonderful lesson
I arrived at the DMV late on a Friday afternoon, hoping to get my driver’s license without suffering through a long wait. I never imagined the monumentally awful experience that was about to unfold.
Mom didn’t enjoy her last Christmas with all of her kids (and that’s OK)
It was Christmas of 1984, and my mother crammed my three older siblings and me into a compact car and took us to Arkansas to celebrate the holiday. I vaguely remember it — my mother, on the other hand, remembers it quite clearly. Apparently, it was pretty rough. No doubt, putting one adult, two older teenagers and two small boys into a small car for six hours was a recipe for disaster. One of us — I shall not say who — was behaving horribly and Mom couldn’t seem to get control of the situation. She was exasperated nearly the entire time.
My dad’s surprising response when I spoke my mind
A few weeks after my first child was born, I told my dad off. At the heart of my complaints was one central failure: Ever since I was a kid, he had failed to show up.
The last three words I said to my dad
Last summer, my dad was in crisis. He was in the hospital after another near miss with death, and based on his track record, it would kill him if he went back to his old apartment and tried to live independently. And while I couldn’t imagine sending him to a nursing facility, we didn’t have a lot of options.
My father’s final words to me
Last autumn, my brother Caleb and I knew our father didn’t have much time left. He had been in the hospital intensive care unit three times in one year and although his mind was clear, his heart was failing. But he refused to admit it – and that presented a minor problem.
The terrifying moment my daughter thought she was going to drown
I stood in the shallow end of the swimming pool waiting for my sobbing 5-year-old daughter to jump in. This had been going on for almost 15 minutes. “I’m scared,” she cried.
What happened when my daughter saw me kiss my wife
The day my oldest daughter was born, I held her in my arms in the hospital and made two promises: “First, I promise I will never leave your mother; and second, I’ll show up. I’ll do everything I can to be at your recitals and ball games and dinner around the table.”
One thing my son doesn’t need from me
I had a plan yesterday morning. When I got back from the gym at 5:30, I was going to write until 7:00 a.m. But it was not to be. A baby and his dirty diaper was going to ruin it all.
I Still Hear My Dad Saying These Words
When I was seven years old, my dad took my brother and me on a hike around our small town in south Mississippi. That hike would turn into one of the most terrifying moments of my life.
A Painful Apology to a Kid at Church
I did not enjoy going to church last Sunday. I took my three kids to the service by myself because my wife wasn’t feeling well. The journey started out well enough — we were in the car and only running 12 minutes behind when we pulled out of the driveway. But it was all downhill from there.