A glimpse into life with five children …
Because I needed to finish something up at work, I was delayed a few minutes getting home.
Because I was late, my lovely wife Kelsey left five kids (ages 7, 4, 2, 2 and 1 — the first three are biological sons, the last two are foster girls) alone in the backyard for a few minutes so she could start dinner.
Because I hadn’t yet put together the new deck box we bought to replace the old plastic bin that holds outside toys, a few inches of dirty rainwater were just sitting in the bottom of the bin (the lid doesn’t work so well) waiting to be used.
Because they were alone, the three youngest children (boy and two girls) decided to dump the waiting rainwater into the sand table that had just a few minutes before been lovingly cleaned and filled with new replacement sand that surprisingly enough we actually had in the garage.
Because water and dirt make mud, and because children enjoy mud, when I walked in the door from work, I found a frustrated mama, two older kids being perfectly agreeable and three younger kids with mud and sand on their shirts, shoes, hands, faces and hair. Mud and water were also all over the back patio and muddy toys near and far.
Because mama was cooking dinner and had taken care of the cherubs all day, I got clean-up duty. Because kids don’t like to stop playing in the mud just because you don’t like that they are dirty, it took a few minutes to wrangle them away from the dirt.
Because dirt in the house is a bad thing, I stripped them down to their diapers and pulled out the hose. Worked pretty well for Gabe. Because hose water is cold, and because she’s probably never had a hose-shower before, Lily (19 months), was decidedly not a fan of the hose and made her displeasure loudly known.
Because a kid was screaming, I wrapped her up in a towel and herded them all up to the bathtub. Because a boy and two girls in the tub together might not be the best thing in the world, I washed the two girls first, dried and diapered them and then washed Gabe.
Because the two girls decided to slam doors (after I specifically told them not to), one of them hurt her finger just before I put a pull-up on Gabe after the bath.
Because I aborted the pull-up mission to tend to the finger, Gabe was still in his birthday suit when I heard this: “Dad, I peed!”
Because I put my head in my hands at the news of pee soaking into the carpet, Nevaeh (2 ½), put her arms around my neck and hugged me. That was pretty sweet.
Because Gabe then went to the potty to pee some more, I got some clothes out for the kids while he did so.
Because I was not in the bathroom, I walked in a minute later to see both girls standing directly in front of the potty, peering curiously at naked Gabe as he relieved himself. So much for avoiding questionable boy-girl interaction.
Because I’m paralyzed by all the female clothes choices, my wife gave me specific directions about what to pick out for them to wear.
Because I finally got them all dressed, we got to eat dinner.
Because we got to eat dinner, we were all happy. Because we were happy, it all feels worth it.
But because of grace, even when we don’t feel happy – yeah, it’s still worth it.
– Good piece from the WSJ on “oversharenting” — the phenomenon of parents putting everything their kids do online, often to just say their kid is cuter than yours. Some parents even set up fake online accounts in their kid’s name, hijacking their identity.
There’s a line between beneficial use of fabulous tools and abuse of them. As the author writes, “I’m torn between wanting to offer my son a tabula rasa, and tapping the efficient, frictionless nature of digital tools to share him with our family and friends.”
Good read — and good reminder not to put too much of our lives online. It’s best lived in real life.
– Great post on Desiring God about motherhood, written in honor of Mother’s Day yesterday: Motherhood is Application. Love this line:
Every day we fight against disorder, filth, starvation, and lawlessness, and some days we might almost succeed.
She goes on to make the point that even in the moments when you feel like pulling your hair out, when there’s not time for Gospel presentation, we have to do Gospel application — “The gospel is not too big to fit into little situations. It is too big not to.”
Some great stories the last couple days:
– Fantastic column from Joe Posnanski on Bubba Watson winning the Masters. Talks about why we love, watch and write about sports. Just a sample:
It feels like the rest of the entertainment world has been trying for years to express the immediacy of sports, to capture what it is about these games that captures us. What, after all, are reality TV shows except an effort to reproduce the drama and unexpected turns of sports? Cooking shows try to be like sports. Televised poker tries to be like sports. Movies try twist endings to surprise us the way sports can and do. Those questions — Will he or won’t he? Can she or can’t she? Victory or defeat? — will startle and thrill and frustrate us forever. This is why I love writing about games.
Plus he gets major bonus points for not one, but two Princess Bride references.
This additional SI coverage of Bubba is great as well. Love that he bought the General Lee from the old show The Dukes of Hazzard.
– Good advice on how to parent boys from The Resurgence.
– Martin Luther was a blogger? The Reformation was fueled by social media? Well, yeah, according to The Economist.
Used to do this fairly often. I see too much good stuff to not post it, so I’m going to try to do this regularly. We’ll see how it goes.
– Are we raising a generation of helpless kids?
Good perspective on today’s culture of helicopter parents who are so afraid to let their kids fail that the kids never learn how to do anything on their own. Couple money quotes:
“We need to let our kids fail at 12 – which is far better than at 42,” Tim Elmore says. “We need to tell them the truth (with grace) that the notion of ‘you can do anything you want’ is not necessarily true.”
“We need to become velvet bricks,” Elmore says, “soft on the outside and hard on the inside and allow children to fail while they are young in order to succeed when they are adults.”
Love the “velvet bricks” idea. As always, it’s a balance.
– Looking for a job or interviewing someone for a job? There are really only three true job interview questions:
1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you love the job?
3. Can we tolerate working with you?
This article from the Washington Times caught my eye this morning: “Increase in adoptions spells fewer children on rolls, shorter waits”
Seems that U.S. adoptions from the foster care system reached a record high of 57,000 in 2009 and the average wait time has shrunk by over a year. The number of kids waiting to be adopted is lower (but still is 115,000).
Specialists credit the improvement to adoption incentives for states that increased their adoption numbers, as well as the adoption tax credit, advertising campaigns, etc.
Older kids are still not adopted as much and the number of kids aging out of foster care is higher than ever, but these new number are positive news overall.
Hopefully numbers will continue to improve, especially as church grab hold of this issue and follow God’s directive to care for the fatherless.
We’re in the final stage of filling out our paperwork to be foster parents, with an eye to adoption. We’ve finished the classes and now just need to finish a few forms and wait for approval.
Some days we question what we’re doing. Most days, actually. But we’re going to at least try it out, see how it fits, see if God wants to bless us with any kids who might come into our home.
Glad to see the good news today — lots of kids need help.
Posted this on Facebook earlier today, but I’d like to do more on the blog (yeah, we’ve all said/heard that one before), so I’m gonna write about it here too.
Kevin DeYoung’s post on parenting today is fantastic. His main point is that we need to not worry about all the little stuff that so often consumes us as parents and focus on the major things:
I just know that the longer I parent the more I want to focus on doing a few things really well, and not get too passionate about all the rest. I want to spend time with my kids, teach them the Bible, take them to church, laugh with them, cry with them, discipline them when they disobey, say sorry when I mess up, and pray like crazy. I want them to look back and think, “I’m not sure what my parents were doing or if they even knew what they’re were doing. But I always knew my parents loved me and I knew they loved Jesus.” Maybe it’s not that complicated after all.
Great advice. A couple other good lines:
In our house the pebbles were fruity and the charms were lucky. The breakfast bowl was a place for marshmallows, not dried camping fruit.
There are plenty of ways to screw up our kids, but whether they color during church, for example, is not one of them. There is not a straight line from doodling in the service as a toddler to doing meth as a teenager.
And you’ve gotta read his dialogue between him and his kid as he tries to correct the kid for not sharing. Hilarious and so accurate you’ll wonder how he snuck into your house to watch you.
Once you’ve read that, you can go here to watch my dad’s series on parenting (as seen on Challies.com!). Great stuff, despite what you might think about the results of of his own parenting (me). Ha.
From the Wall St. Journal:
“The secret to raising boys who read, I submit, is pretty simple—keep electronic media, especially video games and recreational Internet, under control (that is to say, almost completely absent). Then fill your shelves with good books.
People who think that a book—even R.L. Stine’s grossest masterpiece—can compete with the powerful stimulation of an electronic screen are kidding themselves. But on the level playing field of a quiet den or bedroom, a good book like “Treasure Island” will hold a boy’s attention quite as well as “Zombie Butts from Uranus.” Who knows—a boy deprived of electronic stimulation might even become desperate enough to read Jane Austen.
Most importantly, a boy raised on great literature is more likely to grow up to think, to speak, and to write like a civilized man. Whom would you prefer to have shaped the boyhood imagination of your daughter’s husband—Raymond Bean or Robert Louis Stevenson?”
Great post last week from Russ Moore (he’s a dean and VP at Southern Seminary in Lousiville and preached at Heritage on a Sunday morning a while back) about parenting. Especially encouraging to those of us who are in the midst of doing the hard work of day-in, day-out parenting (and will be for the forseeable future).
Here’s an excerpt — actually, you know what? Here’s the whole post. It’s an easy read:
Yesterday I helped a toddler clean up a 44 ounce cup of Coke Zero he’d spilled everywhere (yes, it was mine; and no, there were not 44 ounces left remaining in it when he found it). I answered forty questions about whether Jesus made Lego blocks (so stay tuned for my new sermon series on “The Logos and the Legos”). And I disciplined a tantrum thrower and a sulker.
All of that was about the end times.
When we think of Christian eschatology, we tend to think first of prophecy charts or apocalyptic novels, but nothing is more eschatological than parenting.
A parent disciplining a child, for instance, communicates to the child the discipline and judgment of God in ways deeper and more resonant than any Sunday school lesson (Heb 12:5-11). A parent who will not discipline a child for disobedience, or who is inconsistent in doing so, is teaching that child not to expect consequences for behavior.
In short, a parent who will not discipline is denying the doctrine of hell.
At the same time, a parent who disciplines in anger or with harshness teaches a judgment of God that is capricious and unjust. An abusive parent, worst of all, ingrains in a child’s mind a picture of God as a ruthless devil who cannot be trusted to judge justly.
Parental discipleship and discipline ought always to have repentance and restoration in view, picturing a God who is both just and the justifier (Rom 3:26). Discipline should be swift and fair with quick reconciliation between parent and child. Long periods of “time out” do not communicate the discipline of God; they communicate the isolation and exile of hell.
Parents who spend time with their children, especially at meals, demonstrate something of the harmony they want their children to long for beyond this life. It’s a longing to eat at another Father’s table in the kingdom of Christ.
Moreover, we should teach children to respect and acknowledge authority, attributes necessary for citizens of a democracy for a short time, yes, but more necessary for subjects of a kingdom forever. Teaching children to refer to adults as “Mr. Smith” or “Mrs. Jones” or “Pastor Doe” and to say “sir” and “ma’am” (or the culturally equivalent signifiers of authority) is about more than politeness. It is training children to recognize proper hierarchy and authority when the veil is lifted and we see face to face.
Those of you who are parents probably grow weary and discouraged sometimes. I know I do. It seems as though you’re not “getting through” sometimes, that your children aren’t responding the way you thought they would. Keep hugging. Keep kissing. Keep chastising. Keep teaching. This is a long-term project. You’ve got a long-term project in front of you. And there’s a lot at stake.
After all, parenting isn’t about behavior modification. It’s about Christian eschatology.
Just saw this and I can’t not post it. From a New York Times parenting blog comes a post entitled, “When is Spanking Child Abuse?” Apparently, a pastor in Wisconsin is on trial to determine if his spanking of his son was child abuse — the son is fine with it, but the case was reported by a teacher of one of his siblings.
Here’s how the blog’s writer ends her post in favor of non-spanking:
I can’t imagine using spanking as a deliberate and proscribed punishment. I have, however, hit my boys a small handful of times, in white-hot anger. They were already stronger than I was, and practically taller than I was, so I didn’t really have the power to physically hurt them. Yet I still cringe at the memory of my own loss of control, of the knowledge of what that could mean in a stronger parent with a smaller child.
We tell our children “do not hit.” Shouldn’t we all practice as we preach?
In her attempt to be honest, she blows her own case. Isn’t hitting your children in “white-hot anger” (even if they’re bigger than you and you only do it a “small” handful of times) worse than a reasoned, compassionate, well-thought out spanking?
Also learned this little nugget:
While the United Nations has set a target date of 2009 to end corporal punishment by parents, and while 23 countries have already banned hitting kids, the United States is not one of them.
Go ahead and click that link. Then come back and tell me what you think about www.endcorporalpunishment.org. Should be enlightening.
From a fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine — When Mom and Dad Share it All:
(The article is about a concept called equally shared parenting — more on that later. One section is about same-sex parents.)
Harlyn Aizley, mother of a 6-year-old daughter, describes the moment that her then-partner, Faith Soloway, first took their newborn in her arms in the delivery room. “Just moments after I gave birth,” Aizley writes in the anthology “Confessions of the Other Mother: Nonbiological Lesbian Moms Tell All,” “Faith scooped up the baby, cooed into her squishy newborn face and said: ‘Hello there. I’m your mommy.’ I wanted to kill her. Faith, that is. I wanted to be Mommy, the only Mommy.”