Daddy’s worried about you.
Actually . . . Daddy worries about you everyday.
We get up at 5:30 every morning. We rush to get your clothes on, check for homework in your backpacks, quick kisses on foreheads, and pats on the butt for good measure. We loudly exchange “Love Yous” as you “walk quickly, don’t run” to the bus stop, narrowly averting it’s departure. If we’re lucky, no one has a meltdown (including Daddy). I kiss Mommy on the forehead as she and your baby sister catch up on sleep that was eluded through their previous nightly routine. I use the drive to work to catch my breath. It’s only 15 minutes, but I make it to work. I drop your little brother off at daycare, and start my day.
Throughout my busy day, I catch myself thinking about your day.
“Did everyone eat breakfast at school?”
“I hope Bubby remembers his spelling words.”
“Were kids mean on the bus?”
“I hope Mommy and sister are having a good day.”
“Did I forget to sign progress reports again? . . . I hope teachers don’t blame you for that.”
Mostly though . . . I’m worried I’ve not done enough for you. You are all great kids. Your teachers and other adults in your life tell me that. So I’m not worried about how you’re acting; Not really.
I’m concerned that when I told you I’m sorry for getting upset at you for not moving quick enough this morning, that you didn’t know I meant it; I’m afraid when I told you ‘I love you’ after getting on to you for bickering back and forth, that I didn’t say it loud enough to cover my frustrated reaction to the situation; I’m worried that, when you get older, the kisses and hugs will not have outweigh my need to let you just be kids, and mess up, and learn from your mistakes with love and grace.
And I’m worried that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and you’re graduating High School, or College, or getting married . . . and I’ve missed enjoying you grow up.
More than anything, I’m worried that in teaching you love and forgiveness are what life's about, I’ve missed tangible opportunities to show both of those to you.
I’m taking time to write this to you so you know how I feel about you: Your Daddy is crazy about you; he’s so proud of each and every one of you; and you can never do anything to make him stop loving you! I know you didn’t mean to spill that, and I know you didn’t mean to break that. I’m not mad at you, even if I get upset. You bring light and joy to my day. You add a beat to my heart.
If there’s anything I want you to learn from me, it’s this -- and I hope you hear the tears in my voice when you read this: You can never love too much. Forgiveness makes your heart lighter. Let grace be what you’re known for. Never be afraid to say you’re sorry.
And always know that I’m here cheering for you. Even when it feels like no one is in your corner, I am. I always will be.
Love Your Biggest Fan,
Chris Moss, with his wife Tiffany, keep company with five lively children. He currently resides on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. Chris is the Missional Co-Founder of the grass-roots community organization The Serve Movement. He's a writer, a dreamer, and a voice for the underdog. He can be reached for comment or question at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thechrismoss).
Fall evokes a myriad of emotions and memories for most people. By the looks of the grocery store aisles, it certainly must evoke all things pumpkin spice. But for many dads, it often brings thoughts of campfires, S’mores, and football . . . fantasy or otherwise. There is something about Fall that makes many of us feel like a kid, again. Maybe it’s the cooler temps, or the back-to-school rush, or hearing our own kids talk about what they’re going to “be” for Halloween. Whatever it is, it’s a great time to take advantage of those sentiments and celebrate, or perhaps even initiate fun, family, fall traditions.
The first thing most dads groan when they hear a statement above is, “Great. I’m already burning it at both ends, and now I have to be the Fall Fun Festivities Director?”
But, there are some simple activities dads can do with kids that don’t take a Herculean effort.
First, take advantage of events and happenings in your schools, churches, or communities that have already been planned out for you. Seriously, we don’t need to reinvent the Fall Harvest Wheel; we just need to hop on the wagon it’s supporting. Look at local calendars. What’s going on? Does your kids’ school already boast a Fall Carnival of some sort? Local churches host a variety of parties and events for the whole family. Have you checked out any of those? In addition, many city parks and recreation commissions offer family fall classes in everything from pumpkin painting to pre-holiday craft making.
We haven’t even touched Friday Night Lights. Maybe you have a Little Leaguer or two who would be incredibly inspired to bring their best at a Saturday morning game, after rooting for a local high school team the night before. Take blankets, hot chocolate, and get your painted faces to the stadium for a night of rowdy excitement. When you think about it, you’ve got a pretty economical evening to boot.
In addition to seizing opportunities already available to you and yours, there are some tailored traditions you can start, on your own. When my boys were younger, I was your typical, 60+ hours a week, over-worked dad. I loved my boys, but I didn’t have it in me to come up with one-of-a-kind Disney-worthy events. I brainstormed with my wife, and we decided on committing to two traditions each fall. Not that we didn’t do memorable things on a daily basis, or experience other amazing autumn happenings, but these were the two we wanted the boys to associate with fall in our home. One of those things was loading up the old Suburban on a Saturday morning, or as they got older – on Saturday night – and heading to a local pumpkin patch or corn maze. The patch/maze activities certainly changed over the years. Our toddlers petted animals, carefully picked pumpkins, and gleefully went on wagon rides. Our teenagers ran through complicated and dimly-lit corn mazes, then did some pumpkin’ chuckin’.
The second thing we did, was simply make sure that one evening, in early fall, we took a couple of hours to sit around our newspaper-protected dining table and carve pumpkins. Nothing extremely artistic, but something extremely satisfying . . . so satisfying that we often let the Jack-O-Lanterns inhabit our porch until they became very geriatric in appearance.
Whatever traditions you establish in the fall with your family, embrace it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive or one-of-a-kind. It just has to be together and heartfelt. Your family is one-of-a-kind enough.
Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at email@example.com
It would be wonderful if every time I plan an event for my family that it goes perfectly and everyone has a great time. However, if I can be honest, there are a lot of times when something my wife and I think will be a great experience for our kids and us as a family is met with “ho hum.”
Maybe it’s the nature of kids “these days.” If it’s not online or electronic, it’s not of interest for more than a few minutes.
Maybe it’s that we as parents look back to our childhood with nostalgia and choose activities that are more interesting to us than they are to our kids.
Maybe it’s that the kids do actually have an okay time, but in the footsteps of Clark Grizwold (Chevy Chase) we set up expectations that no family outing can live up to.
Whatever the reason, sometimes camping trips, days at the theme park, athletic competitions, or trips to the symphony do not generate the same level of excitement and enthusiasm for all. We may even have to fall back on that time-tested parental standby phrase, “This is a character building experience.” My parents used that one on me several times, especially when attending classical music concerts.
And yet, time spent together never seems a waste, at least not to me.
My wife and I took our kids on a 3-hour trip up to Kansas City this past weekend for the annual Fall Renaissance Festival. I enjoyed this event very much as a freshman in high school, in particular because I was interested in medieval history, swords, armor, dragons, and cute girls who roam around plentifully at such events. I figured my boys and little girl would also find amusement in the music, food, costumes, human-powered rides like the dragon boat and a merry-go-round. For a time, they did. But I could tell as the day went on and the crowds got thicker and the sun grew hotter, the kids’ interest was wearing thin. By the time the 3 o’clock afternoon joust rolled around, they were ready to leave. We managed some cheering for our heroic knight as he galloped across the field to bust a lance on his opponent’s shield, but I think most of the cheering was because kids simply enjoy yelling at the top of their lungs without being shushed by their parents.
So it wasn’t a bad trip, but it wasn’t a great trip either. It was decidedly “average.” We spent six hours in the car and some pretty decent money and left with the feeling they’d just as soon have stayed home and played Nintendo.
I may be looking through this with a bad perspective. In years to come, perhaps I’ll hear them talk about, “that time we saw all the people dressed up funny,” “shooting archery targets,” and “gnawing on a smoked turkey leg like barbarians.” But for now, I have to trust that my wife and I gave it our best effort, and it didn’t result in the dazzling cheers and excitement a 10-minute drive to the Incredible Pizza restaurant and game center would have. Sometime family events end up that way: and that’s okay. We’re learning what our kids like, what they dislike, and through it all we spend time with each other.
I think my parents were wise and ultimately right to drag me along to the symphony. Learning how to participate in an event, as a family, builds character after all, in both parents and kids.
Sid Whiting is the father of three and the husband of one. He lives with his wife Gail and their children in Springfield, Missouri. He also enjoys real estate investing, serving in the 135th Army Band as a percussionist and bass guitarist, and plays in the Praise Band "Soul Purpose" and the "Hallelujah Bells" hand bell choir. He can be reached for comment or question at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WiseSteward).