I quite enjoy being a Dad. But I’ll come right out and say it, there are days that are a lot better than others. Some days I come home from work and I am absolutely CRUSHING it. We play games until we are both so tired the only thing left for us is sleep. Other days, I have to sort of ignore all the studies on too much screen time for toddlers and just “survive and advance”. I feel bad that it is often work, or shoot a Michigan basketball game, or life in general, that can suck the energy out of me and some days I don’t really bring it. It is what it is, I’m working on it. Normally, I have no problem tucking away that little thing in the back telling me “you should do better” but the other day it hit me like 10 pound brick.
Lennox was asking to play early Saturday morning and for whatever reason, I was just not ready to get after it. This little 3 year old has certain expectations for “play” and playing any game I can think of that requires us to lay down can only last for so long. (“What’s on my back”- surprisingly challenging!) She lamented, “Daddy I want to play with you! I am SO SO ready to play!” With Bennet echoing, “YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” On the surface, it sounds just like any other objection the girls have when I say no, but for some reason, and maybe it was because I was looking directly into her stunning blue eyes as she said it, it hit me.
My daughters are human beings. Capable of feeling and thinking some of the most complex thoughts in the entire world, and in that moment, Lennox expressing being “pent-up” or even just bored, felt so incredibly profound to me. I was instantly transported back to that delivery room, holding them in my arms and thinking “how is this even possible?” That overwhelming rush of emotion that calls to you as a parent, the “raise them up in the way they should go” feeling, came crashing down upon my shoulders once again. But instead of it being this abstract thing= parenting. It instead felt incredibly personal= Lennox. This little miracle of life needs to run around and wrestle with her daddy and explore some closets and get some toys out and be stimulated on this windy Saturday morning and gosh dangit I’m the man for the job.
Like it is my actual cosmic duty to go get RC car out and chase them around the basement with it.
And you might not believe this, but I am telling you: that little, innocuous, moment changed my life. Maybe it was happening gradually and I didn’t notice until now. But all in one moment, I stopped looking at them like daily challenges and instead like little humans. Tiny tiny humans with needs, and wants, and hopes, and dreams and me as the driver (and eventually passenger) of their life bus. (God can be the bus mechanic, or the principal, or the Grandpa who lives at home with us… I don’t know the analogy isn’t perfect.) The point is somehow along the way, I forgot they were tiny humans, or better yet, I just forgot how amazing humans are. How intricate, and complex, and how immeasurably vast God’s creation is and yet how precious these little specks on earth are to me (another speck).
Like how Bennet almost overnight has turned into this amazingly unique person. From being a little Lennox copier, to instead, her own goofy, hilarious, free-spirited, wild-child. As her curls have become much more dramatic, so has she. She can flash this mean-mug when she takes issue with you that I know I will be receiving for the rest of my life, and she has this comedic timing that just can’t be coincidental. She raises her voice (like her Dad) when she is really trying to make a point, and has found liberal use of the word “no” to be exactly what she needs to say to get what she wants (like her Mom).
Or how Lennox needs Dad time, and uses the words “I Love You” to completely
entangle enrapture enlighten manipulate me. Or when I come in to her room and rub her back to wake her up she wakes up right away but pretends to sleep so she can enjoy it a little longer (think she learned that one from ol’ Dad too). Her cute little idiosyncrasies are turning into full fledged personality traits. She genuinely cares about how other people are feeling, she wants things done correctly and in order, she takes a measured approach to almost everything, she knows what she likes and doesn’t have to try new things. She likes games, she likes to win, she wants to be better than her sister at stuff already.
I don’t even know how to verbalize this feeling I have. “What the Heck! This is awesome!” That sort of settles it. Humans are amazing and my two girls are the most amazing things you’ll ever see, I’m pretty convinced on that. Hannah, we did a darn good job so far and lets keep it up. Lennox and Bennet, I love you both so much you tiny humans. I love that I get to be apart of this process and I promise to double down on my effort to be an active role in it. We can even play “don’t touch the couch tonight”.
Psalms 127:3 Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from him.