My daughter just got home last night from being half way around the world on a mission trip. She was so excited! I loved hearing the stories during the ride home. Some amazing things happened on the trip, and at some point I’m sure I will see the 2000 + pictures she took (no fooling… she doesn’t play around when it comes to the camera).
In a couple days, my youngest son will come home from advanced military training. Now, some of you might be thinking that I threw him in the military to straighten him out (after all, isn’t that what parents do?). Far from it. He chose this route. We talked extensively about it before he went in, and I supported him as a proud (albeit sometimes worried) father. If everything goes the way he wants, he will go back in for more training in a different discipline in another month or so. I’ll miss him when he leaves again, but right now, I will be glad to have him home.
My oldest son (and middle child) just told me about a potential job offer to work with one of the colleges, and he is entertaining some other possibilities all at the same time. Apparently, the people he is meeting with see potential in him. So do I.
I have great kids. Not saying anything about anyone else’s kids. No, you won’t see me with the bumper stickers saying “my kids/grandkids are cuter than yours” or anything like that. I don’t try to throw my kids’ accomplishments in anyone else’s face. I just love my kids.
One of the things that I used to say to my kids a lot was “Thank you”. Particularly my boys… if they are reading this, they are probably smiling right now. My thank you’s were for a specific reason. When we would go out somewhere and see or hear about kids doing bad or stupid stuph (not the fun kid kind of stupid stuph, but the embarrassing, throw yourself on the ground to get your way stupid stuph), I would turn to my kids and say “thank you”. They would look at me puzzled and say “For what?” My response was simple… “For not acting like that”.
In one sense, my kids had a big challenge on their head, because they were tagged as “PK’s” (preacher’s kids). Word around any church water cooler was to watch out for the preacher’s kids, cuz they were the worst, most misbehaved kids around. I was determined that my kids would not be that way. Interestingly enough, it didn’t take much, really. I made it a point to let my kids know that they were just as important, if not more, than anyone else in my life. Simple things like paying attention to them when they had a question. I probably drove some adults crazy, because when my kids would come and ask me something I would stop whatever conversation I was in to answer them. I knew that they only needed me for a minute, but for them, it was the most important minute. I also sought out relationships with people that loved my kids as much as I did. This way, they were getting positive reinforcement, training, and support from many adults. In short, they would see that that level of support was normal. I remember a time when I was growing up where some adults were trying to “encourage” the young people in my group, and their method was to tell them how bad they were, how uncontrolled they acted, etc… The look on the kids’ faces, and the tears afterward told the story… You might think that kind of stuph rolls off, and has no lasting affect, but I tell you… it’s been over 20 years, and I still remember the sting of it, and I’ve spoken to some of those kids years later, and they still do as well.
Now, I am not saying my kids are perfect… far from it. We’ve had some tough times growing up, have battled through some pretty strenuous situations, and have been mad at each other much longer than the sitcom would tell you is the standard. But through it all, we’ve learned how to love deep in the hard times, learned to accept each other in our faults and junk, and we are constantly learning and re-learning how to be in relationship with each other. It’s a whole different thing having conversations with adult children, still remembering when they were 2 and 3 and the “conversations” we would have then. I still laugh when I think about when we were going through tough times financially, and Jon stepped up and said “why don’t you just go to the bank and buy some money?” Oh, if it were only so easy.
I’m proud of my kids. Truthfully, I get this from my mom. No matter where I was in my life, every time I spoke to my mom, she always found something to praise me in. It drove me want to validate that praise. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without that acknowledgement from my mom. I’m hoping that in some way, I’m having that affect on my kids as well.
So, here’s another “thank you” to my kids. Not because I saw someone else’s kids acting up, but just because they are great kids. I love what they have become, and what they are becoming. It’s a fun process to watch, and even more fun to be a part of.