Posts Tagged ‘Children’

Reblog: You Were Meant For This (a reflection for parents)

Originally posted 7 years ago and written sometime before that…still a good reminder, to myself.  Although my children are much older now, I still need to be reminded of this greater reality…


File under:  Things you were not told about parenting.  Children and privacy.  I never thought and was never told that children would completely change notions of privacy.  Essentially it becomes non-existent, especially during waking hours.  It is not an unusual occurrence to have our whole family, including the cat, in our tiny bathroom.  I suppose I should be encouraged that my children want to be in my presence, but everywhere, all the time?  No one told me…there actually are quite a few things that I was not prepared for when it comes to being a parent  (e.g. infants and toddlers do not observe daylight savings time; they wake up regardless of what the clock says).   Of course nothing prepares you for being a parent like being a parent.  Experience is a strong and unrelenting teacher.

All of this can be overwhelming, but I think it leads to a larger question.  Are our difficulties with our children rooted in a misunderstanding of who is for whom?  That is, are we meant for our children, or are our children meant for us.  Often times our behavior and our attitude would point to us thinking that children are really meant for us.  This may take several forms of course:  children may exist to fill an emotional need, to entertain us, to allow us a second chance at life or sports or school or whatever we lacked or failed at, or even just to stay quiet and out of the way.  Even in Hollywood, babies seem to be the new celebrity status symbol.  It is not wrong to want children, it is wrong to want them for the wrong reasons.  And it is wrong to treat them as objects or possessions when they are present.

Read the words of Walter Wangerin, Jr. in the introduction of his book Little Lamb who made thee? : A book about Children and Parents on this point:

Children do not exist to please us.  They are not for us at all.  Rather, we exist for them – to protect them now and to prepare them for the future.  Who is given unto whom?  Are we a gift to their elders?  No – not till children are grown and their elders are older indeed.  Then they are a gift of the fourth commandment, honoring hoary head which have begun to feel past honor.  But until then, it is we who are given, by God’s parental mercy, to the children!  And it is we who must give to the children – by lovely laughter, by laughter utterly free, and by the sheer joy from which such laughter springs – the lasting memory:  You are, you are, you are, my child, a marvelous work of God!

I am both surprised at times at the depth of my love for my children, but at other times I am surprised at the depth of desire for my own comfort.  I really shouldn’t be surprised at either I suppose, as one reflects the Father’s work in my life and the other that remaining sin and idolatry within my own heart.  At times I have my priorities straight, at others I have them reversed.  The prayer then has to be, that the Lord would help us to understand those times when we act as if our children should be doing something for us or even when may resent their presence and that He would change our hearts to reflect Wangerin’s statement above.

It seems to me that the blessing of being a grandparent is the ability to know without reservation, who is for who?  Most grandparents know, intrinsically, that they exist for their grandchildren and therefore delight in the opportunities to observe, include, be barged in on, etc…by their grandchildren.  The negative of this may lie in the tendency of grandparents to spoil their children – this goes to far to another other extreme.  That said, you have to love the unabashed love that most grandparents are willing show towards their grandchildren.

Another thing that changes when you become a parent is the way that you react to the sufferings of children, especially those who are of the same age as our children.  Our heartstrings can really be pulled when we see an infant or toddler suffering from ill health or from sins perpetrated upon them.  A newspaper article from the Raleigh based News & Observer does this to me with an article on May 9th, 2004 (“Mom grows with Grant”, written by Vicki Cheng).  Jamie Howard was living the life she always wanted to live, but that changed with the birth of her second child.  A few months into Grant’s life, it became clear that something wasn’t right.  It was later discovered that Grant suffered a stroke in utero, which has had a profound affect on his mental and physical development.  What struck me the most in the article, more than hardship of little Grant, were the words of his parents, maybe because I relate to their position as parents.  Matt Howard said:  “The purpose of his life could be to change us.  God chose us to be his parents.”  And Jamie wrote in a letter to Grant:  “You remind me to live for the day, and stop worrying about the future.  I wish that my love could heal you…There has never been a moment in your short life when I doubted your were meant to be my son.  Thank you for being patient with me, as I learn to be your mother.”   Those words bring tears to my eyes every time I read them.  I pray for you and for me that it would not take a tragedy or health difficulty for us to get our priorities straight – for us to recognize that we were meant for our children.

This Moment is Real, but it is not the Only Reality

Like my dinner that ended up on the living room floor – a side effect of the constipation, which is a side effect of the nausea meds, that are used to control the nausea, which is a side effect of the chemotherapy, of course – I feel the need to work through some of my emotions and thoughts.  You have been warned.  It has not been pretty the past few days.

Days that end in Y are hard, much of the time.  The Monday after a chemotherapy are the hardest.   Here’s why:  I’m ready to feel better and return to some activity at home and in the office.  And Lydia is ready to be done with being a single parent (for all practical purposes).  And yet, the transition is stilted and fraught with landmines – physical and emotional.  In that way, that Monday can be very hard for all involved.

Tonight through tears, I cried out to God.  I told Him I was mad, but that I needed Him to meet me there.  It’s the first time that I have been able to express that emotion in prayer.  I don’t tend towards outward anger, in general.  I am much more prone to depression, which I remember somebody calling “anger toward inward.”  I suppose this is progress through the emotional side of this suffering.  I think I have a long ways to go.

I hate that my children have to come to me with their small, sweet voices to ask if I am okay, if they see me writhing in pain, or after I have lost the contents of my stomach.

I hate what this is doing to my wife, who has been a rock, but can only withstand so much.  Our marriage is as strong as ever, but this tests our endurance and patience, as we suffer together

Speaking of patience, I hate that I have so little when my children are just being children.  Never a strong suit before this, but a real test.

I hate that I can’t be the pastor I want to be, though my congregation and fellow elders make no demands on me, other than to focus on my health as needed.

I wonder what they will remember about this time in their childhood.  I hope and pray that it is moments of joy, punctuated with moments of pain.  But not pain without a purpose.  May it increase their faith and understanding of need for the Lord.  I’m not sure I could stand otherwise.

I wrenched my knee, which remains painful, but I think is getting better (I hope).  I hate that it’s an added physical impediment, but I have never regretted being a dad to my son, chasing and playing tag on a scooter.  I’d do it again for the moment of joy with him, in the midst of so many joyless days.

This last cycle I lost the mental battle.  I am learning how much of this is mental, even when the physical side is the most visible.  I went into the last chemo cycle already defeated.  I can’t be sure, but I am fairly certain that that had an impact on my experience this past weekend.  I am trying to figure out how I can keep a positive spirit and attitude, but not make it about my will and ego.  I need to be strengthened by God, not self.  And yet, I am entirely sure what that looks like.  I’ve lost my way a bit in this regard.

I don’t want your sympathy (and yet, I am thankful for it) and I wish I didn’t need your prayers.  Though I do want and need them.   I’m also bad at taking advice and being cared for.  I’m just not good at it.  Typical man, I suppose.

One of my biggest laments is that I cannot go (or should not, for fear of infection with a diminished immune system) to the hospital.  Last week, during chemo, someone connected to our church was in the hospital, and I couldn’t go.

I’m tired of vomiting.  I think my esophagus may agree.

Last night, one of our children had a meltdown.  The end of the school year is always hard.  The end of  the school year when you dad has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemo – well, that’s a different kind of hard.  One of the thing that I told this child, I realized I needed to hear too.  We talked about how our emotions (whether good or bad) in a moment  are real – very real.  But they are not the only true reality.  This moment is real, but it is not the only reality.  This – this is what I need to fight for emotionally and mentally.  There will be an end to this.  There will be a return to health, Lord willing.  And we are still a family that is clinging to God and Who, more importantly, will not let us go.  This moment is real, but it is not the only reality.

I Like: Shape Collage

I made the collage below in about 2 minutes, using the free Shape Collage program.  I like.


Fall + Veterans Day = Free Fun

Thanks to all who have and continue to keep us free!

Fall Fun

Beautiful fall day today…a little pumpkin carving – including E being disturbed by the inside of the pumpkin (thus, some of his facial contortions).  K did several faces for me (excited, frustrated, angry, confused).

Interesting Self-Portraits

In preparation for a Parent’s Open House, our children drew self-portraits of themselves.  Here are the results of this little art project.


E - left; K - right

I have to admit I was a little concerned about E’s self-image, until I heard that he was actually drawing himself as a particular Star Wars character (click here to see who).  With or without that knowledge, I suppose child-psychologists may have a field day with these.  One other note…the blue square in E’s mouth is his loose tooth.

Slice of Life: “don’t let him see this”

Context:  Last night.  My wife is out to dinner with some friends and E & K are having what we call “snuggle” time, but is really just a brief and hopefully quiet playtime for the kids before they are separated for bedtime.

This little episode starts with me hearing the sound of what might be a large bucket of legos being dumped out all over the floor in E’s room (we have hardwood floors).

Me:  Don’t make a mess (is there anything more ineffectual than yelling from another room not to make a mess, when you know good and well the mess has already happened?)

E & K:  No response

Twenty minutes later…E comes out to tell me that he needs to use the bathroom.  On his way to the bathroom he stops to give some instructions to K.  He, of course thinks he is being quiet and actually whispers:  Don’t let him see this!

Being the brilliant father that I am, I put the loud sound of legos together with E’s “whispered” instructions.  Now, you might think that I would go to investigate at that point, but no, I showed remarkable restraint and waited until E was back in his room.  I gently poked my head in the door to see my son surrounded by a thousand lego pieces scattered across the floor of his room (I don’t think this is hyperbole). 

E:  you weren’t suppose to see this.

Me: Ah, yes son, I know.  You’ll have to clean this up soon.

Later, I asked him what he was doing and he told me that he had been looking for particular pieces so that he could make a special helicopter gunship (he is a boy afterall).  And, to his credit, he cleaned up and talked his sister into helping – at least a little.  And yes, I helped some too.

New Definition of a Sports Car

This morning, while I was taking the kids to school, E (5 1/2 years old) suggested that the car in front of us was a sports car.  I found this curious as the car in question was a Volkswagen Bug (new style), but E was not thinking of the traditional definition of a sports car.  In fact, I was driving a sports car (a Hyundai Santa Fe)!  So here is the new definition of a sports car:  any car with a sticker for a sports team on it.   There are a lot of sports cars out on the road using this new criteria!

Bad Spidey! Bad!

You may remember our friendly outside spider from this post a week and half ago.  I’ve taken to calling him “Spidey” and though I don’t like spiders, I have enjoyed watching him build his webs day after day.  Because he builds a web over our screen door, we periodically break part of it and he has to start again.  Also, the kids have enjoyed looking for him in the morning or when we arrive home from somewhere.  You could say he was becoming a part of the family.

Until today when I discovered this…

This is unacceptable behavior in my mind.  I was okay with him being outside and doing his thing, but it is absolutely not okay to get in the shower with me!

Using one of my children’s bug catchers and a stick, I stuck him outside until I could decide what to do with him.  I made my decision:  he would live, but not near us.  The children were crestfallen when I told them of Spidey’s fate.  I said, “Spidey has been bad and he can’t live with us anymore.”  (This could also result in better behavior from the kids 😉  So this morning, I brought him to the church (where he can get some religion!) and let him out near a tree.  I will confess I considered letting him out at the corner of Va Beach Blvd & Kempsville, but I resisted the urge.

My friend who identified the spider as an orb spider also comforted me with the fact that Spidey very well could be a girl and has probably left some eggs…Noooo!  Thanks, thanks alot for that.

Lions & Tigers & Spiders, Oh My!

I couldn’t get a picture of the lions and tigers in our yard, but here are a few of an awfully large spider.  Spidey has been hanging out for a few weeks, but gave a little scare as we were on our way to church yesterday.  Next time he should stick to the terragon and stay off of the door!  E kept extreme distance, K wanted a closer look, and I put my finger close to him to give some perspective to his size.

Quick Hitter: Advertising & Children

There was a new segment on the nightly news tonight that grabbed my attention, even though it told me things I already knew.  The same information can be read here, but this tells you all you need to know (from the article):

Food and beverage companies spent $1.6 billion in 2006 on advertising aimed at children, a study released Tuesday by the Federal Trade Commission found, often combining ploys from TV to toys to the Internet to push kids to plead “Please Mom, buy me that! Please! Please!”

Here are the two things I already knew: 1)that advertisers spend that much targeting our children and 2)it works. How you ask? I have two children. We hear from them all the time about the things they see and want.  Of course, we should we remember that we are the parents and the “buck” should stop with us.

One more thing:  I got tired of hearing our children constantly saying “I want that” after seeing a commercial for a new toy or gadget geared towards kids (blendy pens, moon sand, etc…).  So, we made a rule…the kids cannot say “I want that”; they have to say “I like that”.  We still hear that a lot, but you wouldn’t believe how different it sounds.  It also means that we aren’t constantly saying “sorry, you can’t have that” or words to that effect.

What happens when…

you send your 5 1/2 year old out into the backyard with the digital camera?

Apparently quite a few shots of the appointed picture taker!

Excursus on Sycamore Trees

My previous post reminded of this article I wrote for our church newsletter three years back:

I have found at least two great reasons to have Sycamore trees in your yard – preferably one in the front yard and one in the back, as we do at our home.  First, these two wonderfully tall and full trees provide a generous amount of shade for our house and yard during the spring and summer.  There is a bit of shelter from the heat of the sun found under the large leaves clinging to branches jutting in every direction.  I must admit at the beginning of this fall that I was not enjoying our trees or appreciating them to the same degree as I noted above.  That is, until I experienced a wonderful fall day frolicking with E (2 years old) in the leaves that littered (actually covered) our backyard.  With a little help from the wind and a rake I created an enormous leaf pile – large enough to loose a small child in its midst.  It had all started innocently enough as E joined me in the back to pile up said leaves in preparation for their removal by my new toy – a leaf blower/vacuum.  Leaves have been raining down unfettered upon the yard for weeks now – and now was the time for them to receive their due!  This, of course, is where E comes in.  I had been loathing those Sycamore trees and their copious amount of leaves both already on the ground and those that are prepared to descend upon the yard once I have it looking just right.  In creating my piles to vacuum and mulch up, E saw an opportunity.  It’s hard to know, but it seemed to come naturally to him – leaf piles were created for joy.  His joy.

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