Archive for August, 2009

The Subordination of Terra Firma Man

August 6, 2009

A confession: I’m terrified of heights. Seriously terrified.

On a ladder, I’m good until about the fourth rung. That’s when my knees start to weaken and my mind is filled with thoughts of tumbling backward and landing on my head. My kids think it’s funny. They like to poke fun at me about it. Vacationing at the Grand Canyon a few years ago gave them ample opportunity. The view for me was enjoyed a comfortable ten yards from any rail, lest I might uncontrollably launch myself into that great American abyss.

I don’t know what trauma gave birth to my acrophobia. Perhaps it was long ago when I was power-washing the cedar shakes on our roof to rid them of the oak saplings that had taken shallow root there. Slipping on a wetted tile, I nearly slid off the roof, clutching a corner of the house at the last moment to avoid a fifteen foot plummet. Or maybe I blocked some childhood trauma of being dropped on my head. Regardless, there’s no doubting it. I’m a Terra Firma Man. I prefer both feet solidly planted on the ground as God intended.

But Terra Firma Man met his match last week. Vacationing at Lake Tahoe provides a lot of exciting activities: hiking, biking, jet skiing, swimming and, gulp, parasailing. Nope! There’s no way you’d get me up there tethered to a rope 450 feet above water held in suspension by lawn chair straps. No way.

TerraFirmaManandSon

Joshua with yours truly, Terra Firma Man

No way, that is, until my boys started to work on me. That’s when I learned that parasailing was on Joshua’s “bucket list”—you know, like in the movie, the things you must do before you kick the bucket. As a 17-year old, I explained, that he had more time to do his list than I had to do mine, and parasailing wasn’t anywhere to be found on my bucket list. It was impeccable logic.  It was settled. I would remain grounded.

Until…something inside me spoke up. Something about creating memories that my boys will cherish. Something about loving them uncomfortably. Something said, “Yes. I’ll do it.” Once the words were out, there was no turning back. When Jonathan, my 15-year old also wanted to go, I said, “Sure. All three of us can go up together in tandem.” It wasn’t until the boat was underway that I discovered we would exceed their weight limit for a three person tandem. That’s when our “helpful” captain suggested that I could take turns going up with each of the boys separately. Terra Firma Man was a goner.

How was the experience? It was both exhilarating and terrifying. Yet, it was also highly (sorry) bonding. Viewing a sunset on Lake Tahoe from a parasail is spectacular. Viewing it with your child, and showing them you’re there because you love them, is priceless.

Yes, Terra Firma Man met his match. He loves his kids more than the ground beneath his feet. And for a time, that sent him soaring.

What uncomfortable ways have you found to tell your kids you love them?

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Dating Dads

August 3, 2009

No, this is not a blog article condoning dads to date outside of marriage.  Rather, it’s one to encourage dads to date their kids.

I first heard of this concept about 15 years ago when my children were 7, 5, and 3.  Bob Lepine and Dennis Rainey discussed this as something that every dad should do with their children.  I never went on a “date” with either of my parents so this was a foreign idea to me.  Now, I’ve not been great at doing this on a regular basis but I have made it a habit to intentionally take each of my children out individually to do things that they enjoy.

To make it easier for me I set up a system to date each of the kids monthly on the date of their birthday.  For instance, one of my daughters birthday is January 3.  So, I picked out the 3rd of every month as our “date night”.  Realistically, I have not ever been consistent with making that day for each of the kids every month.  But, it did cause me to try to get time with them each month as close to that date as possible.  I might miss a month or two but it was on my calendar and in front of me regularly.

Sometimes we would go out to dinner (this was/is the most common date event).  We’ve been bowling, putt-putt golfing, walking, riding in the car, breakfast, coffee house times, etc.  The key is not the “what” but the fact that I make time to be with them.  During our “date” times, I simply try to engage them in discussions that may not always come up in everyday discussions.  I might press into their friendships, guy/girl relationships, spiritual activity or questions, frustrations they might be going through at home, school or with friends or any other number of things that are on their mind.  Specifically, I really try to listen.  I’m not very good at just listening without offering “dadsdom (wisdom from dad)”.  But I do try.  Sometimes, we don’t talk about anything of real importance.  We end up just hangin out together.  That’s fun too.

Spending time with your children individually is one of those investments in life that will NEVER come back void.  It communicates your love to them and that you value them as individuals.  If you’ve never consistently set up times to “date” your children, it’s not too late.  In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve dated my children so I’m going to do the same.  Put a time on your calendar and surprise them with a nice evening at their favorite restaurant or doing their favorite activity.  Call them on the phone or send them an invitation.  Make it fun and they’ll not only appreciate it but they will remember it the rest of their lives!

SHARE:  What ways have you made an effort to “date” your children regularly?  What’s worked?  What benefits have you experieced by spending quality time with your children?