Occasionally, Renee will call me while I’m at work and ask for me to speak to one of our kids about particular behavioral issues.  For some reason, my voice over the phone carries a little extra magic that can have a positive influence on such situations.  It’s a Dad thing I guess.

I like those times, in some ways.  It makes me feel useful, I suppose, and it’s nice to think I can help my children and my wife navigate a tough day.

Sometimes I get a bit gruff, but mostly, being distant and caught up in a work day gives me an objectivity I lack when I’m home.  In those cases, I can offer a voice of reason and a bit of a fatherly threat perspective that changes the dynamics.

Sometimes, there are benefits to talking to my kids on the phone.  We have intimate moments as they explain to me the events that brought us together for a conversation.  Sometimes, they teach me things through and after those moments.

Like, for example, what happened with Ben on a recent Monday.  Ben is rarely the problem child, but on this particular day, he was having a hard time negotiating the troubled waters of a small house with a big family.  His attitude was in the toilet, let’s say.  Renee asked me to do a little plumbing.

Dad:  “What’s up, buddy?  You having a hard day?”

Ben:  [with tears] “Yes.”

Dad:  “Why?  What happened?”

Ben:  “Well . . . ”  [more tears, sniffling, and whining] ” . . . blah, blah, blah, they said, blah, he, blah, she, blah, blah, then . . .”

Dad:  “Okay, okay, okay!  Never mind.  I got it.  Here’s what I need you to do . . . you listening?”

Ben:  “Yes.”

[This is where I pull stuff out of a hat and see what happens.  When I said, “Here’s what I need . . . “, I had no idea what I was going to say next.  Don’t tell my kids about that part, okay?  I have to say, though, this moment of inspiration was original and produced a better result than most of my stuff.]

Dad:  “Okay . . . get on your bike . . . and ride down to the park at the end of our street.  Okay?”

Ben:  “Well . . . ”

Dad:  “Nope, I’m not finished yet.  Are you listening?”

Ben:  “Yes.”

Dad:  “Ride your bike to the park.  Stay there for 30 minutes.  Think about your day, and clear your head a bit, okay?”

Ben:  “Ohhhkay?”

Dad:  “While you’re there . . . and be careful crossing the streets . . . write me a note.  Take a piece of paper and a pen, and sit down at the park . . . be sure to tell Mom where you’re going . . . and write me a note while you’re down there.  Okay?”

Ben:  “Well . . . but . . . what should I write about?”

Dad:  “Whatever you want.  Tell me about your day.  Tell me about what’s going on.  Just write me a note.  It doesn’t have to be long.  Just a few sentences.  Just write me a note about whatever you want to say.”

Of course, I had to explain this story to Renee and convince her it would be fine in spite of the way I just messed up her schedule for the day.

But these are the moments when parents learn profound things, though seemingly simple, from their children.

Ben has an amazingly tender heart, a beautiful heart, a heart of worship and love.  I love him more than I can say.

Thanks, Ben, for teaching me, and all of us, a little about heaven before we have a chance to “mature” it out of you.  Thanks for giving me permission to publish your stuff and share this story.

Later that night, I found this note in my closet:

Note from Ben July 2009

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6 thoughts on “sometimes good sometimes bad

  1. Kids say the darnedest (sp?) things and have an amazing insight into life. I have to agree with Ben – sometimes good, sometimes bad. I’m having one of those bad days myself today and this story helped me put things into perspective. Yeah, those bad days can be really bad – but the good days make up for them and hopefully we have more good than bad. I am tired today and that may be the biggest cause of my bad mood. But I am going to pick myself up by the bootstraps, dry my face, lift my head, and let God’s light shine down on me on this dreary, rainy day. With his help, I will be able to plow my way through to the good days ahead.

    Ben, thanks for letting your dad share your thoughts and this story. It helped to pick your Aunt Alisa up out of the doldrums and make my way through the rest of the day. Tomorrow is looking brighter already! Love ya, buddy.

  2. Touching.
    Somehow, I could say the same thing, but it wouldn’t feel as honest as it does through Ben’s pen. It’s refreshing to feel honesty like that- it reminds me that we are all connected- that his words are my words. His groans are my groans. We are one body- in a fallen world.

  3. From someone who finds sleep, and even more so rest, elusive I found Ben’s words very profound. Life is bad when you’re tired, I’m tired, the other guy is tired. The thing about that is, so many people I know are tired! And I am not just talking about a little fatique at the end of the day, I mean TIRED.

    This morning I woke early but realized I had slept all night. It struck me immediately because it’s so rare! It felt great and I seemed to have a better perspective–for awhile, because I am tired again from the busyness, the stress and even the fun of life.

    If there rest for the weary? I sure don’t know. But nice job Dad! That was a great re-direct and really nice way to see deeper into your son’s heart!

  4. do you truly understand the pain and horror of messing up a busy moms schedule? I mean, we have to stick to the minutes or chaos. But okay I’ll give you this…nice re-direct. I may have to use it actually, so thanks for sharing it. And kids are the best, so much better then adults.

  5. Hi Dale and Renee,
    It was such a blessing to meet both of you and your daughter last Sunday when you visited Quest Church in Seattle. I can tell that this blog will be a special and meaningful keepsake (keepsake, namesake ;-)) to your children and future generations. And I hope Renee can hold your blog hostage more often ;-).

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