This morning, I spent 90 minutes playing with blocks on the floor with my daughters. My mom is a big part of the reason I did it.
Last Friday, I looked over at the TV and saw the trailer for Jurassic World, and it brought back an unexpected, bittersweet memory. It was 1993; the original Jurassic Park was showing in theaters; I was in ninth grade; and my parents had just split up.
When I recently wrote an article on Boundless about healing from the trauma of sexual abuse, I expected a reaction on social media. What surprised me were the private messages from adults who, for years, had dark memories of sexual abuse locked inside.
My mother did not expect to miscarry her first child. She was young and healthy and four months pregnant. She was too far along to miscarry. Yet in the early hours of a December morning, she began experiencing severe pain in her abdomen. It was happening.
It’s official. I’m the father of two children under five who can ride their bikes without training wheels. It is wonderful – sort of.
One time my little girls were on a playground and the oldest decided to make an imaginary birthday cake. She was so serious about it, so thoughtful about each decoration. It was touching at first, but then things got painful when she took her prized “cake,” carried it to a ten-year-old boy, and said, “Here’s a birthday cake I made for you.”
She did it. She actually did it. My daughter rode a bike for the first time last weekend. I figured it would take a while before she figured it out; but it was more like three minutes, and then she was off. I kept my hand on her back as she peddled, but then she started saying, “Daddy let me go! Daddy let me go!” She had no idea how hard that was for me to do.
As my little kids get older, I’m reflecting more on what my mother did right in raising me. And you know something I appreciate about her parenting style? She did not corner me. There were times when I wasn’t being my best self, or I was hiding something, or I was struggling with something that I didn’t want to talk to her about – and I knew that she knew it.
The other morning, I decided to read the crucifixion story to my two little girls, hoping they would somehow understand how serious and heartbreaking it was. Although you’d think that would be hard for a three and a five-year-old, kids can surprise you.
I think one of the most valuable messages a kid can hear is “no,” followed by an explanation (if the parent has time). Plenty of kids grow up with yes-men as parents, and after the child grows up and enters the adult world, it’s a confusing existence. Their parents dropped the ball in refusing to set up boundaries, so the adult child has to be schooled by circumstances, consequences, and people.
When I was ten years old, my family and I did something that was rare for us: we went on vacation. During that weeklong trip, someone gave me a gift; and believe it or not, I’m still holding onto it today. I’ll never let it go.
The other day, my three-year-old daughter was holding her baby doll and shushing it, using the same little rhythm over and over again. I didn’t notice it at first, but then it hit me – it was the tune of “Jingle Bells.” No way, I thought.
A couple of Saturdays ago, my wife had some errands to run, so I ended up spending most of the day with my daughters, who are three and four. One thing that surprised me was how much I enjoyed myself, which may sound strange to those who know how much I love my kids.
This past weekend, my wife had to be away for two days, which meant I was in charge of managing Daddy Daycare for a three and four-year-old. I figured that two days might be a challenge, but I was up for it. I was not.
Today, my family and I were out in public when my youngest daughter suddenly said, “I need to go potty, I need to go potty, I need to go potty.” After a brief negotiation between my wife and me over who would take responsibility for hunting down a bathroom, I took my daughter by the hand and walked a couple of blocks until I found a potty – but it was too late.