You’re Wight Dere

(***Note: Now that the weather is getting colder, I expect I’ll be posting with more frequency. Between the weather and our daughters just handing me posts, it is difficult to not share some of these little moments. Of joy and otherwise…hehe.)

Listening to my 3-year-old discover the English language is one of the joys I have in life. The letters “r”, “l”, and the “th” sound are three difficulties at this point. Just listening to her attempt to say “parallel lava lamps” causes me to giggle.

A few weekends ago we took the girls to Chicago. One afternoon we took them right downtown. It may have been the last good afternoon of the season. We were very blessed to enjoy great weather. I couldn’t wait to get our 3-year-old to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as “the bean”. This great reflective work of art is an attraction. And on a nearly cloudless day it is even more impressive.
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I didn’t realize getting from the parking ramp to “the bean” was to become a feat of endurance. For the first time we were going to have our 3-year-old walk instead of ride. That meant, in a time of poor judgement on my part, she would be walking the 8 block walk from the ramp to the park. Then walk through the park with us and walk back to the parking ramp. She started whining at the half block mark and I knew my patience would be tested on this trip. Seriously, a half block and she was already complaining about being (insert complaint here: I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m sweating) that’s right sweating one half block into the walk. After a rest at block 4 things did get better.

If you haven’t walked on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago on a nice afternoon you may not realize it can get rather crowded. My wife is not a fan of crowds. Because of this I watched our 3-year-old even closer than I expected. Not only because of the crowd of strangers, but also just to make sure she wasn’t going to show signs of claustrophobia or problems handling crowds. The good news is she did great in a large group.

When we got to “the bean” I took the 3-year-old around it and underneath it. Those pics are fun to take as well.

While underneath I asked her how she was doing? I also asked if she was frightened. (Lately she has said, “I’m scared” a lot so I just wanted to be sure she was fine. I was just making sure.) Her answer, “Nope.” When I asked why she wasn’t afraid she pointed right at the reflection on “the bean”, “Because you’re wight dere.”
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To translate, “Because you’re right there.” It does a heart good to know she felt safe because I’m near.

My mind went right to our faith. What if we could always see God, “wight dere”? How much better would we feel? How different would we act?

It amazes me how sometimes a small sentence from a 3-year-old can get a mind going.

“Do not fear: I am with you;
do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Or, to quote the chorus of the David Haas song “You Are Mine” I had stuck in my head the rest of the afternoon:

“Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine”

Things The Bad Catholic Dad Does

At work I’m surrounded by a great group of Catholics. I love listening to the techniques employed by many of them in raising their children over the years. Plus, working with Father Rocky gives me an opportunity to listen to him speak. He has a particular talk where he encourages praying the rosary with your family. Even saying it is a great event to do with even the youngest of children. Although, recalling his words, it can be a “full contact” rosary with young children. The first time I heard him say those words. I thought, “That seems a little exaggerated. I’m sure if my time to be a dad ever happens it won’t be like that.”

Boy was he right and I wrong on that one. I have to admit being around an active 3 year old will keep me young well beyond my years. And going to Sunday mass has often become, to borrow Fr. Rocky’s words, a “full contact” sport.

I’m not complaining. I’m just realizing that the perfect dad isn’t the one that is comparable to Ward Cleaver. He is more like…well…a gifted verbal juggler. And sometimes a full on juggler. For my 3-year old daughter and myself, the verbal exchanges just keep coming. Plus, I keep getting reminders how even the most quiet of actions are always being recorded by a 3-year old mind.

We haven’t started praying rosaries with her yet. But we started from almost day one doing smaller prayers like the bedtime prayer, the prayer before meals, and the Guardian Angel prayer.

A 1 or 2-year old is easily distracted and that has caused me to occasionally reword a prayer. For instance if our 3-year old starts eating prior to everyone else sitting down I may reword the phrase, “which we are about to recieve” to, “which she is already eating/scarfing/inhailing”.

But the nighttime is sometimes “accidentally misworded” by me in order to distract her, get her to giggle, and refocus so we can say it correctly. The correct one we pray goes like this:

“Now I lay me,
Down to sleep,
I pray the Lord,
My soul to keep.
Guide me safely,
through the night.
Wake me with,
the morning light.
Amen.”

Well, when she is distracted, or not really ready to pray yet I may start her off with:

“Now I lay me,
Down to sleep.
A bag of peanuts/big ol’ pizza,
At my feet.”

The giggling usually starts followed by her saying, “That’s NOT how you pray it. Do it like this….”

Then she prays it the way we know.

A few nights ago I got up after going through out nighttime routine and a dresser drawer was left open just a little bit and I banged by foot against it. I only grumbled a little bit to myself and walked out of the room. (For those of you who really know me, you would be proud. No loud yell. No foul words. Literally just a grumble to myself and that was it.) I didn’t even think our 3-year old heard me. I was wrong.

The other night, my influence was heard by my wife. She went in to do nighttime prayer with our daughter. Our 3-year old improvidsed the following prayer. I think you will see my influences clearly.

“Now I lay me down to sleep.
A big ol’ pizza at my feet.
Guide me safely through the night.
Because a drawer is in my way. Amen.”

I wasn’t in the room to hear this lovely prayer. But I’m pretty certain the neighbors could hear my wife and daughter roaring with laughter followed by the real prayer.

I’m not sure my word substitutions would be given a Fr. Rocky stamp of approval, but I think my daughter watching out for our feet sure gets my approval.

And it is really important that I remember I’m being watched and listened too much more than I realize.

Just learning and living the #dadlife everyday.

Three Years Ago Today A Life Changing Event…

About five years ago I heard a great comment. I have to paraphrase it, but it went like this, “If you spend time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future you will most likely miss what is happening right in front of you now.” Those words stuck with me. They are the words that make me pause and take in what is happening all around me. Sometimes it is stopping to watch a sunset. Sometimes it is just enjoying a hug from my wife on a Sunday night when, in the past, I would normally have been feeling bad the weekend is coming to a close. Most of the time these are small moments that become larger moments because now I slow down and take those moments in.

So often I read about how single moments change someone’s life. Often that single moment has incredible circumstances. Circumstances like walking away from a car accident, or a powerful conversion of heart due to prayer.

I haven’t had one of those moments in my life. Not a powerful one. The closest I have happened three years ago today. It is the anniversary of my life changing event. The moment that stopped me in my tracks was holding my little daughter in my hands for the first time.

It took a little time before the real moment came to me.

First, believe it or not, I actually looked past this little girl and at her mom. A short time earlier I watched this women give birth. Watching the process of birth proved to me that all I can do is act “tough”. Giving birth, well that is the true sign of being tough.

Then my mind drifted towards the situation life just handed me. I’m in my 40th year on this earth. Forty years of looking out for pretty much myself and, for the last 20 years, my wife. Now, I’m looking at this little newborn. She is going to not only rely on me for food and shelter, but oh so much more. I didn’t know if I was up to that task. It was at this point the emotions began to swirl. I was completely overwhelmed.

As the emotions swirled the words at the start of this post rang in my head. Stop looking back. Stop worrying about what is to come. Just look down at this little girl in your lap. Those little eyes, that little nose, that bundle of life sleeping in my hands. Then came the moment, she woke up. She looked up at me and that tiny hand wrapped around my finger. Who knew a chilly little hand wrapped around my finger could melt a heart?

It was then the world not only stopped, but time didn’t matter, nothing mattered. There were only three things I was capable of doing; prayers of thankgiving, crying, and just being in the moment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”

Three years ago today a moment went from uncut to the most shining diamond I’ve ever placed my eyes upon.

Five Minute Friday–Join

This weeks topic is “Join”. Here goes:

To join means to become part of something. We join all sorts of groups, gatherings, what have you. Just thinking about the word makes me think of the groups/gatherings/people I have joined with for one reason or another.

Daily I join the workforce. (And I do mean daily)

I am a member of a few organizations that reflect what I do for a living. (various broadcaster associations, Society of Broadcast Engineers, etc.)

From there I think closer to my heart.

I have been a member by birth of my immediate family. (As a stunning son and brother….hehe)

The I moved on to become as a single “entity” until I met my wife. When she “joined” we started a family of two. And lovingly stayed that way for a long time.

Now another has joined our ranks. (Little Margaret)

Which gets me to thinking about the fact that from an early age I joined a faith. A faith I continue to practice and love.

And if you love something you have joined, you wish for it to grow. For it to grow you must share about it. WHich is also why I like Five Minute Fridays! I have joined it and continue to help it grow because it is a great writing exercise and it is great to read the various ways others look at the topic.

Ask me anytime and I will share about my faith. As we all should. (For those who read this saying, “I haven’t a faith. That is silly.” To you I say no-faith is a faith and you probably share that. So my statement remains true. Gotcha.)

Finally, as a memeber of the human race, I know there are groups I didn’t “join” but just “became a part of”. But even those are groups I wish to see grow.

(Ramble ended. And this felt like a ramble…hehe.)

Sometimes An Awkward Moment is Worth It

In life we need to smile more. Today gave me one of those opportunities. But in a rather humiliating way. Let’s lay the cards right on the table to start. My age is 41. I am not a young kid. But I am certainly not in the geriatric set. Some of my friends are 50 and are getting AARP cards in the mail. I’m still, at least, nine years from that.

Yet today, I was reminded of the fact that I am not as young as I think. Sometimes when we use last last sentence it is followed by a sentence like, “My body aches after working so hard yesterday.” Or, “I just can’t party like that anymore”. Today it was neither of those. We were at a rummage sale. I don’t go often to rummage sales, but I see the benefit in getting an entire wardrobe of clothing for a 14 month old for 25 dollars. Especially when she will be outgrowing those close within the next 6 months and need to update the lot.

So we hit a few today. There are certain recommendations I could make now, but most of it would be snarky, and come off as arrogant. But let me just offer this example as a what-not-to-do.

Allow me to set the stage, the garage we are in has clothes all around the sides. But the center of the garage is empty. Since I don’t have the patience to sort through those clothes, I push Margaret in the stroller and chat and giggle with her while Sue searches for bargains. It’s a good deal. As we do that the 4 or 5 adults running this sale continue to talk to each other. Not even bothering us. Then one of them, one of the guys, catches Margaret’s eyes and she smiles at him.

He then asks my little girl, “So are grandma and grandpa babysitting their grandson today? That’s very nice of them.”

I look around to see if any other people are in the rummage sale. No one else is. He then states, “It’s great that grandma and grandpa are taking good care of you.”

I’m pretty sure I snorted as I started laughing at the statement. But when I looked at Sue, my wife and the MOTHER of Margaret, the look on her face is indescribable. It seems to be a combination of shock, laughter, ready-to-kick-this-guys-behind, and kindness all wrapped up in one.

She kindly corrects him. I would have helped, but I could hardly squeeze words out of my mouth due to the laughter. “Um. That is our DAUGHTER.”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Kill ’em with kindness”? Well, my wife was very kind with her words. But her tone, although pleasant, made her words sound more like a phrase that wasn’t as clear and kind.

Suffice it to say, we didn’t buy anything there. And by the end of their driveway were laughing so hard that the awkward event was so worth it.