Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's MINE!



What parent hasn’t heard those words?  A red-faced child plants both feet firmly, sticks out the lower lip, and what can charitably be called a “hissy fit” erupts.  Ownership is at stake!

As children we are not natural givers.  We see something we like, and we grab it.  Then we chew on it.  Our parents tell us not to chew on it because it may be dangerous or the item belongs to someone who doesn’t appreciate toddler spit.  Gradually, somewhat reluctantly, we learn to keep our hands to ourselves and ask for something before grabbing it. 

Time passes. Siblings, cousins, and schoolmates enter the picture.  These people want our stuff sometimes, and we aren’t always ready to share.  Why should a child share something that’s “MINE!”?


It’s not ours
Children don’t own stuff.  From a legal perspective, only adults own stuff.  Certainly, we give our children toys, clothing, food, a warm bed to sleep in, but nothing is “theirs” except by the grace we parents extend to them.  They cannot provide these things for themselves, so any ownership a child attempts to claim comes with a reminder, “and where did that come from?” 

As Christian parents, my wife and I believe all our financial resources come from God our Father, and we are caretakers of his blessings.  The old English word “stewardship” shows us the things we have are just passing through our hands to be used, enjoyed, and shared.  We demonstrate this belief to our kids when we let them participate in our sharing.

Teaching to share begins with sharing
A wise parent said, “With children, more is caught than taught.”  Kids watch us.  They imitate us.  If we smile at a baby, the baby smiles back.  If we yell, they yell.  If we spend all evening on our electronic devices, we shouldn’t be surprised when they ignore us and hang out on social media.  Likewise, the way we teach our kids to share is to let them see how we share.

My 9-year-olds sons and 5-year-old daughter help make sharing decisions in the monthly family budgeting process.  There are two line items on our budget for giving: our local church and local charities.  Each month when it’s time to review the budget, we ask our kids about whom they think we should help.  There are several charities we support regularly, and the kids understand we cannot give to each group as much as we would like.  We have to choose where to give this month and what has to wait until next month.  Sometimes we make choices that mean we don’t get to do something we’d like to do so someone else can have what they need.  It’s a powerful day when your child says, “We don’t need to go see that movie.  I think more kids need shoes.”


Christmas time
Our kids still believe in Santa, but they also know “extra” gifts come from us.  This year we chose an ornament from our church’s angel tree for a boy named Seth.  Seth is 9 years old, the same age as my sons.  Unfortunately, there is no one in his family to give those “extra” gifts.  I took my boys out shopping one weekend and they helped pick out a coat, gloves, a warm hat, and snow boots, and also five nice toys so that Seth can have what he needs and some of what he wants for Christmas.  My boys took this task very seriously, strolling up and down the aisles and picking clothing and toys out.  We set a budget and stuck to it, taking care of the clothing needs first, then we moved on to the toys.  Kids have to know resources are finite: parents aren’t money trees.  This wisdom doesn’t come from reading an article or a hearing a one-time lecture.  It comes from repeated experience, much like an athlete who trains many hours to perfect a single skill.  I believe my sons showed this wisdom because we taught them the basics of giving each month.


Wrapping up an article and a gift
Do you want your children to be generous?  Let them see you being generous often!  Do you want your children to be giving?  Involve them in your giving regularly.  Merry Christmas!

Sid Whiting is the father of three and the husband of one. He lives with his wife Gail and their children in Springfield, Missouri where he worships at Redeemer Lutheran Church. 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 sid.whiting75@gmail.com or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WiseSteward).

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Value of Steady Service


A wise man once told me, “…what you practice in moderation, your children will excuse in excess.”

That’s a profound declaration, and if we conduct an honest assessment, we will find that it is an unswerving truth.  Yet, when you hear a statement like that, it typically leans to the negative. For instance, Dad slips and cusses in front of the kids, just one time, and soon the teenage son justifies a constant stream of profanity.

But, what about the positives?

It’s no shocking revelation that as dads, we will slip-up, and quite often, in front of our kids. But, they are not just observing the failures, they also are witnessing the good. When they see you consistently take the shopping cart back, when you open the door for an elderly person, when you thank a soldier for his or her service, when they see you live, “I love you” to your spouse…it makes an impact.

When my boys were young, our family volunteered to serve Thanksgiving meals to those who were homeless, or simply without family, for the holiday. My wife and I helped set out chairs, clean tables, run food to and from the kitchen, and chatted with those we were serving.  Our sons carried desserts to the seated guests of honor and carted trash to the bins. At one point, we couldn’t find our youngest son. Of our three children, he was the busiest, and quite often the orneriest. When household chores, or homework beckoned, he was the first to disappear. I immediately caught myself thinking, “That kid. He has no desire to help or serve others. He’s all about himself.”


After consulting with my wife, we went opposite directions in the large dining hall, searching for our six-year-old, wayward charge. Imagine my surprise, and conviction, when I spied him . . . sitting across from an elderly gentleman, laughing and talking a mile a minute. The old man’s eyes gleamed, and I was thankful that in a sea of parenting failures, I was witnessing a win. Even if it was small. Even if it was just for a moment.

I am not a perfect example. I can see the worst and the best of myself in my now-grown sons. But, one thing that is consistently remarked of them, is that they all are servants; two of them serving in the military and our oldest in ministry. And when any of us care, love and serve others, it seems to more than balance out our flaws.

I am reminded of the following: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8.


In the very real and rewarding struggle we call “parenting,” especially “DAD” parenting, I am immensely grateful for the “coverage.” As I am still challenged to serve, may you be, as well. Don’t underestimate your example because your kids will benefit from your service. They are watching. Give them something positive to emulate. You won’t always be perfect, but you can strive to be steady.   

Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211, 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 kweaver@network211.com.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Building Generous Children

Will you help me?  I want to raise generous children -- and not just at Christmas.  I want to raise children who think more of others than of themselves all the time and all year long.  I want to raise children who are not selfish or entitled.  I want to raise children who pitch in and help out, who volunteer when asked – and even when they are not asked.  I want to raise generous children.  And not just at Christmas.


When we lived in Cape Girardeau, MO we had an unfinished basement.  I mentioned to a guy I knew that I wanted to finish the basement.  I said it in passing.  One week later there were eight good old boys from Southeast Missouri tromping down the side yard of our house to the basement door.  They had hammers in hand, tool belts, and tape measures.  They had lips bursting with chewing tobacco and a steely look of determination.  These men were here to help.  They stormed through the door like men on a mission.  It’s what men do.       

Indeed.  Men help men.  Men help men build basements.  Men help men build their families.  It’s what men do.

The basement turned out beautiful.  These men took pride in their work and teaching me to do what I didn’t know how to do.   They mentored me.   They invested in me.   They reminded me that the basement I was building was for my family.    

I hate chewing tobacco.  I haven’t tried it since.  But I love those men.  They taught me about carpentry – something I knew nothing about.  I didn’t know what I was doing and they didn’t care.  They let me get in the way.  They were there to help.  They were generous.     

Every one of us needs help. Every one of us needs the kind generosity of someone else pitching in and helping out.   I need help.  You need help, too.  It’s not easy finishing a basement.  It’s not easy being a Dad, either.  Both are easier when we do it together.        

We may not always know what we are doing.  I don’t.  I’m not a very good carpenter and I am not always a very good Dad either.  I’m sometimes a little hard hearted and a little thinned skinned.  I’m not always so generous.  I don’t always put the needs of others before my own.  Sometimes I’m just looking out for me.   This is why I need you.  This is why we need each other.  I need someone to say, Hammer and Nails or not, this is for our families.    


So make it a point to make a difference.  You are a Dad.  You are a GREAT DAD.  I learn from you – and our children are learning from all of us.  Put the needs of others before your own.  Pitch in and help out – even without being asked.  Be a generous Dad and your children will be generous like you. 


Jeff Sippy, self-described as a "Carpenter and Dad-in-Training," lives in Springfield, MO where he serves as Senior Pastor for Redeemer Lutheran Church. He and his wife, Cindy, are the proud parents of three young adult sons. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Whisper of Fatherhood


If ever a story, a relationship, a social infrastructure, or a magical phenomenon been more under emphasized than the importance of a child’s need for their father’s love and attention, I cannot imagine what it would be!  My own experience, my research, shocking statistics, and the stories I have seen and heard all tell me this is true.

Of course, children also need their mother, but their story and importance is relatively very well known. A father would never be a replacement for a mother, but neither can she replace him. Ideal parenting involves the work of two people. Yet, mom is too often without the dad to help raise their children. A mom and dad are not opposites, but complements of their parenting partnership. Of course, there are many circumstances that do not allow a man and woman to raise children together. Some are unavoidable, but the lack of emphasis on the crucial role of fatherhood contributes to the avoidable incidents of a father’s lack of involvement.

There are nuggets of encouragement! The government has Fatherhood.gov. There are groups like the National Fatherhood Initiative and Gooddads.com. Business has Dove’s Men’s Health Care support of fatherhood. There are also many dad bloggers like myself, although we are outnumbered 17 to 1 compared to mom bloggers. But more emphasis on helping and encouraging families to stay together must happen!

Emotional Well-Being
I don’t think every father knows just how important he is to his children. Many do, but I don’t feel confident about saying most. I’m not thinking of financial importance, which is critical. I’m not even thinking about how a father protects his children, which is crucial! These are the areas that, unfortunately, many people think of when we talk of a father’s importance in a home. There is another matter in which fathers are fundamentally necessary to the health and growth of their children—emotional well-being!

A kid’s emotional well-being concerns their stress level, the emotion of happiness, self-satisfaction, and anxiety level. If any of these criteria are at risk, the child will suffer not only emotionally, but their physical health could deteriorate.

Children with good emotional health:
  • Do well in school, at home, and in other social situations
  • Feel good about themselves, and don't suffer from self-esteem issues
  • Believe that they are valued and belong
  • Are able to accept changes better and just go with the flow
  • Have fun and enjoy others
  • Have less stress, and are better equipped to deal with stress
  • Feel contentment with their lives
While the importance of fatherhood is discussed in relative whispers, its impact on children roars!

So how do we as fathers contribute to our children’s emotional well-being? Naturally, parents have the most influence and are the most responsible for all aspects of their children’s lives. We teach them whether we do so intentionally or not, whether we are good or bad examples. "Do as I say and not as I do," never works as a value system or mentoring technique, therefore, be sure to be a good example and a knowledgeable teacher.

Here are a few things to think about.
·      You must be careful with your criticisms and honest in your praise.
·         
     Most important is your interest in them. A child ignored by his or her parents can feel defeated and lose their self-worth, then react to that feeling by becoming more aggressive or more reclusive. Be sure to listen intently when you know what your children are saying is important to them. Aggressively attend their parent-teacher conferences, coach their sports if possible, and give them flowers after their dance recitals.
·       
       Teaching your children values to live by will give them the confidence to make decisions in their lives, especially when they must act on their own. This will become very important with the peer pressure that will undoubtedly challenge them. Being in control is a vital component of a child’s emotional well-being.
·       
     Teaching your children kindness will allow others to like them and teaching them strength will allow them to ignore those that don’t. How do you teach these lessons? By being kind and showing strength yourself.
·         
     Good parents pay attention to character in their children. Their moral and ethical actions and reactions to everyday events are key indicators of their emotional well-being. Kids have good character when they respect others, are responsible for their actions, and show humility. When you see integrity in your children, it is a very good sign that you have been a great parent or very lucky. If you don’t, their lack of character likely didn’t come about overnight and it won’t be corrected overnight.
·         
     Dads are male role models for their sons and examples of male respect towards females. Boys need to prove themselves to someone male. If not their father, then who? When fatherless boys band together, you can be assured it is a recipe for trouble. They tend to want to prove their manhood to each other in all the wrong ways.
·         
     Girls need male approval. Reassurance from their mother of their self-worth is not enough. They need the feeling of being valued by a male. Again, their father is in the best position to do this honestly. Without this, the girl will look for male approval in the wrong places and from individuals who may not have their best interests in mind.
·         
     Dads actively parenting in homes helps our society. Look at various neighborhoods, comparing single vs two parent home statistics, then compare them to the crime statistics in the same neighborhoods. You will see what I mean.

Summary
I think fathers are aware of their fiscal and protection responsibilities much more than their nurturing responsibilities.  Society suffers one bad father at a time and is advanced by every good father who attends to the emotional well-being of his children, working of course with their mother. Today’s children are the leaders and parents of tomorrow. When we teach them well, they will do the same with their children, and if the trend continues with each generation, watch the social issues of our country dissolve into a mere distraction. Media, businesses, and our government could do more to help this often dire situation where fathers are absent. While discussion of fatherhood may be a whisper, the impact of fatherhood roars!



Michael Smith, the author of The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Need, is the father of three adult children and grandfather of four. He is a retired US Air Force officer and resides with his wife in St. Louis, MO. Michael can be reached for question or comment at mike@michaelbyronsmith.com

#powerofdadhood

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"I Hear You" -- How to Listen Well to Your Child


I was sitting at my computer working away on some project, when one of my daughter’s came in the room and started telling about a something she and her friends had done together at the sleepover the night before.  She spoke with excitement, laughing along the way, as I gave an occasional, “Uh-huh,” or “Hmmm…,” or “Oh, really?”  She evidently had finished her tale, as she finally said, “Dad, isn’t that so funny?!”  Only I had no idea if it was funny or not, because I had not heard a word she said. 

“I’m sorry.  I wasn’t listening.  Could you tell me that again?” I requested with a measure of embarrassment.  Her initial excitement about sharing the story with me had worn off, but she retold it anyway.

I wish I could claim that was a one-time event, but it wasn’t.  I had made a habit of being a poor listener.  On other occasions, the girls had told me things, but I had not listened well.  Later, after the conversation had passed, and when I was listening to them, I might ask with surprise, “When did you do that?”  “Dad, I already told you, remember?”  The problem was I didn’t remember; I had not really heard them in the first place.  We had been in the same room.  She had stood next to me and told me a story.  But I had not listened.

I decided that I had to change some things in order to be a good listener and really hear what my daughters were saying.


Here are a few things that I put into practice to become a better listener:

1. About Face: If at all possible, I stopped what I was doing and did an “about face;” I turned my body and face toward them.  Under most circumstances, communication really does involve the face.  When I turned toward them, I looked them in the eyes as they told their story.

2. Here to Hear: “I hear you” often begins with “I here you.”  Okay, I recognize that this doesn’t make sense grammatically speaking, but let me explain.  In order to listen well, I need to be present with them.  Being in the same room is not the same as being with them.  To hear them, I must also be here, in the moment, not on my phone or staring off in the distance or watching the instant replay of the game or working on my computer.  Doing an “about face” is really about showing that you want to be with your child and that they are more important (in the vast majority of cases) than what you might be doing at the moment.

3. Hold That Thought: Occasionally, if my train of thought for an email or document is really critical, I say, “Just a moment.  Let me finish typing this thought, then I will listen.”  It is important that this not take a long time.  If I need more than just a minute (literally), I ask, “May I take five minutes and finish this?  Then I will hear your story and not be thinking about this.”  Most of the time, they’ll be okay with this.

4. Engage: As you look your child in the eye, offer feedback.  “Wow!”  “That sounds fun!”  “What happened next?”  Children like affirmation about their experiences, not just their performances, though the two often go hand-in-hand.  If your child is small, put them on your lap and let them talk away. 

Active, engaged listening is crucial to healthy conversation.  It also builds trust, as your children know that you hear them and care about what they are sharing with you.  This encourages them to keep coming to you to share as they get older, because you have proven that you hear. 


And good hearing (and “here-ing”) will allow them someday to say with pride, “I have a good dad!” 


Deron Smith and his wife Becca have been married for 23 years, and have three daughters: Abby (20), Makayla (17), and Toria (15). Since 2004, he has been Preaching Minister at East Sunshine Church of Christ, Springfield, Missouri. As a preacher, he often says that he is "one learner telling other learners what he's learning." Besides his love for his family and church, he enjoys fitness, the outdoors, football, the St. Louis Cardinals, and anything "Razorbacks."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thankfulness Caught More than Taught

I love being a dad! I love the relationship, the love, the hugs, and even the challenge. As the dad of a 10-year-old, I now find myself beginning to reap the fruit and rewards of living out my best to be an example to my son, including being quick to admit when I make a mistake and fail. I have noticed our kids learn more and are influenced more by our attitude and behavior than our parent talk.



What I’ve learned about being a dad that helps his children be thankful can be shared by some of my driving ambitions:

I teach college composition as an adjunct instructor at our local community college and enjoy great illustrations of my students. This last week I was grading essays of my students when I had one of those moments we feel more acutely due to our role as parents. My student is a face painter, you know the kind that kids and parents love to see at a local festival or kid’s event. She shared about the shocking behavior of a parent who was so mad that her child did not get to have her face painted because the line had ended and the time for the face painting was long past its end. She threw a fit, screamed, shouted some choice words, making quite a scene. I wonder what that child “caught” that day from her parent? Our attitude and behavior as parents influence and shape our children more than what we say or don’t say. 


As dads, we can model a thankful attitude and crush any kind of entitlement in ourselves first, then help our children overcome this cultural attitude. I determined early on as a young dad, I was going to get used to saying, “No, I’m sorry,” often and it’s paid off. To this day my son very rarely asks for anything or throws a fit when he doesn't get his way. I have tried to be consistent and committed to model and encourage an attitude not of entitlement, but gratitude.

Of course disappointments occur and we can help our kids learn how to have a grateful attitude even when bad things happen. We were at a local outdoor festival last year when my son realized his dollar in quarters fell out of his pocket when we were trying out the hammocks in the booth. When he realized this, we went back and the money was gone. These moments of disappointment happen and we are challenged to respond and guide our children in an attitude opportunity. We talked about how he could learn from this, that if we find something valuable we’ll be sure and turn it in, and help the person find it that would come back looking for it. It was a Golden Rule Lesson, i.e., treat others as you want to be treated. He caught it as I asked him a few questions and he saw my calm and clear demeanor, choosing to learn  and turn a bad experience into a life changing attitude adjustment.

There’s a story about a pioneer circuit rider in the early era of the expanding West who shares about being “thankful for being robbed!” I have shared this story with my son and it haunts me in a good way. He writes in his journal the evening after he survives being robbed at gunpoint in the words between pioneer encampments.

“Today I am thankful I got robbed. I am thankful I had something to take. I am thankful he took my money and not my life; and most of all I am thankful I was the one being robbed and not the one doing the robbing!”



As a former Army soldier and chaplain, we learn a concept in military resiliency training called, “Hunt for the Good Stuff.” This challenges me to be a dad who lives out the kind of creative, brave, and resilient attitude and perspective of thankfulness, even in painful and trying situations.

I am a marathoner and ultra-marathoner—I’ve learned that parenting well is much like training for endurance races of 26.2-100 miles. Do the hard work of training daily and come race day when it matters most, that training pays off. 



What I’m saying about thankfulness is that, like other character and values formation, daily efforts, little things, and modeling in a child’s early years pays off later as they mature. An example of this is how I love how my son has “caught” my attitude of gratitude toward my wife, his mom. We’ve been married 21 years now and I don’t take her for granted anymore. I’ve really had a falling in love again experience after our early marriage I was distracted with the pursuit of saving the world, helping everyone else and being successful. I have to admit, I didn’t give my wife my best—I seemed to have given it to my work and hobbies and caring for everyone else. 

Today I make it my passion and choice everyday to cherish, love, honor, listen to and give lots of encouraging words and affection to my precious wife. Now that I’ve been consistently doing this, 
my son has caught on and he does this too! I’ve noticed him saying amazingly encouraging words to her, complimenting her, treating her so well and giving her lots of attention and hugs. My thankfulness for my wife has been caught by my son and I’ve never really had to say a word; thankfulness is caught rather than taught.
  

Shawn Moreland loves being the father of one terrific ten-year-old. He serves as a chaplain in the Army National Guard and lives with his wife and son in Springfield, MO. He can be reached for question or comment at shawnlivinglife@yahoo.com 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thankful Dads Beget Thankful Children



I am a Dad-In-Training.  I do not have a degree in parenting.  No one pays me, so I’m not a professional.  I am an amateur, a Dad-In-Training. 
                
As a Dad-In-Training I learn as I go. I learn from other dads.  I learn from my children.  Some things work really well.  Other things work not so well.   

One of my sons was angry one day.  He slammed the bedroom door.  I wanted to teach my son to control his anger and not to slam the door.  So I opened the door really hard and slammed it even harder.  This did not work so well.

I wanted my son to learn, “Dad, that really looks mean, nasty, and aggressive.”  But the door broke through the dry wall.  My son learned that I am a weirdo with a lot to learn. 

I have taught my boys to run long distances, play hockey, and sail.  I am learning that the more time I spend with my boys the more they learn from me.    

What my boys have most learned from me is what I call “Language Lessons.”  My boys have been learning English from me since the day they were born.  Not one of them speaks German, Japanese, or French.   They speak English. 
                
There were no lessons or books, per se.  There was just lots of practice.   The more I talked the more they learned.  Some people say I talk a lot.  I don’t know about that.  But I can tell you that they speak English pretty well.         
                

But what do I want my children saying?

This is the question we Dads can ask and answer together.  We need to think about what we want our children learning from us.    

Our children learn to say what we say.  When I slammed the door my children learned to be angry and destructive.  They also learned to repair dry wall.   

But when I am grateful, my boys learn to be grateful.  When I am thankful, my boys learn to be thankful.  I am learning that thankful Dads beget thankful children. 
                

I am thankful for my boys.  I am thankful for my boys’ mother.  I am thankful for my boys’ coaches and teachers and those who spend time with them.  I am thankful for my boys’ church and the dear people who invest in them.  I am thankful to each of you Dads who model, and encourage, and mentor me.        
                
I am learning that my boys learn to do what I do and say.  You and I have a huge influence and opportunity to mold, shape, and encourage great things in my boys.  We can teach our children how to run and play.  We can also teach them to be thankful. 

Thank you for being a Dad.  We are in this together.  Let’s learn from each other.

Jeff Sippy resides in Springfield, MO and is the father of three sons, all now young men. When he's not out sailing, he can be reached for question or comment at jsippy@rlcmail.org.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

7th Grade Advice to Dad


Knowing the deadline is up for this month's Real Good Dads blog post, I decided to let my 7th grade class have a shot at letting fathers know what’s important to them.  For their question of the day I asked them, "What advice would you give dads from the perspective of a 7th grader?"  With only slight editorial adjustment, here it is:

·         Spend time with your kids instead of always doing work.
·         Work on trying to understand what’s happening in your child’s life.
·         When you baby your teenagers, understand that it makes them feel like you are disrespecting them.
·         You want to be fun.
·         Use constructive criticism with your kids.
·         Respect your daughter’s privacy.
·         Give your kids more responsibility
·         Give your kids more freedom.
·         Don’t assume that you know what your kids feel like.


·         Don’t use old people sayings.
·         Your kids don’t like it when you embarrass them.
·         Don’t take your anger out on your kids.
·         Don’t yell at your kids because it just makes them want to rebel against you more.
·         Unless you are a good singer or dancer don’t sing or dance in front of your kids’ friends.
·         Recognize it when your kids actually do well.
·         Understand that sometimes your kids do things that they don’t realize is bad.  Take their intentions into account.
·         Give your kids a chance to explain when they are in trouble.
·         Let your kids have fun. Sometimes logical consequences are better than restrictions.
·         Try not to swear around your kids because that’s a bad influence.
·         Teenagers want to be independent, so take some time to teach them how to do some things      on their own.
·         Treat your kids with the same respect that you would treat your friends.
·         Give your kids some alone time when it seems like they need it.
·         Don’t buy clothes for your kids without them approving.
·         Respect your children’s property, let them have some personal space.  (They need a bubble).
·         Trust your children.
·         Check their text messages.
·         Make sure you have a Carbon Monoxide tester in your house.
·         Have your kids’ eyes checked regularly.
·         Tell your kids stories about when you were a child.
·         Listen to your kids and not always just to your wife.


Darren Sombke is the father of four living in northern Illinois. He and his wife have one seventh grader remaining at home. He can be reached for comment or question at darrensombke@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Cousins are Here!



"The cousins are here! The cousins are here!" This is was what the Boy was shouting at dinner last night as my sister's family arrived. The Boy has the best time when his cousins come all the way from Missouri to Texas to visit. Since my sister also has a set of twins plus one, we have an unusual bond as parents besides being siblings. The difference is that at her house it’s all girls and at ours, it’s all boys all the time—with the exception of my lovely wife. Of course, with six children age 3 and under, bedtime was a bit more tricky then usual, but once we got everybody down the adults were able to kick back and enjoy some wine and tea to close out the evening.

Everybody, and I mean everybody, was up by 7 a.m. this morning, but in a house the size of ours that really isn't a surprise. I am just glad we made it that long.

Of course the Boy knows we have to go out and ride the bike at least once a day during the “30 Days of Biking,” even when the cousins are here. He figured the best way to accomplish this was to load up the bike trailer with all three toddlers and ride off to get some donuts. It sounded like a good idea to me, and so off we went. I am pretty sure that loading three small children into the trailer exceeded safety regulations, but they didn't seem to mind, even if the Boy was forced to sit on the floor. (It’s amazing why you’ll do when your cousins come to town.) We all had a great little ride and there was no complaining. WELL ACTUALLY, there was just a little complaining. All three passengers felt I should have been going faster when we came to an uphill section. I tried to explain to them it wasn't easy pulling 110 pounds of kids around, but this argument didn't quell their demand for greater speed.

As with all good things, the weekend finally came to an end and everybody was exhausted but very happy.  After a weekend full of fun and family, I am reminded of this Manifesto from Holstee.  "This is your LIFE.  Do what you want and do it often!"  I love spending time with family and will continue to do it as often as possible. I hope my boys will do the same.


Minor Baker and his sister are now the parents of four children each, so there’s even more fun when all the cousins get together. He can be reached for questions and comment at minorbaker@gmail.com.