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Reader Discretion Advised: The following story is true. The names may have been changed to protect the innocent. If you feel you are acquainted with the players, please keep this information to yourself so as not to spoil it for other readers who might have enjoyed thinking it was their own family. Some of it may, or may not, be written in first person just because this writer likes to keep things interesting. Happy Father’s Day!
Fits, Fights, French Fries and Father’s Day
Sunday church with three boys is exhausting, exasperating and simply draining. Getting them ready for Sunday School would be a big enough job: prying each one out of bed over and over again, breakfast three different times, foraging for lost socks, shoes or even underwear (clean underwear), and separating them from each other when their sleepy attitudes turn to in-your-face fist-fights.
We had TWO Sunday services each week; one at 10 a.m. and the other at 7 p.m. This made for a very long day for parents that were youth pastors with many responsibilities. To say our stress level was high would be an understatement.
Now, our three boys were not angels. Blond hair, blue eyes and smiles that melt even the grouchiest heart, they were still all boy, through and through. They liked to wrestle, they loved sports and they lived to antagonize each other. In this particular story their ages were approximately 12, 6 and 1 ½.
It had been another long day, but a good day, in the house of worship. We had about a 20 minute drive home and it wasn’t unusual to stop sometimes at a fast food restaurant for a snack and drink for their ride back. It was winter and I opted for hot chocolate, The Darling got his usual Coke or Dr. Pepper and the boys each had a French fry and drink to themselves. They were taking turns feeding The Baby little bites.
Then it began. I don’t remember what the squabble was about, I just remember it wouldn’t stop. Whining, picking, poking, telling on each other, taking someone’s toy, grabbing someone’s French fry, and it went on and on. I had turned around in the van and spoken pretty stern to them but it started right back up again. We were all tired, stressed and “over it”.
Then it happened. The Darling (affectionately coined because of his gentle nature and heart of goodness) jerked the van over to the side of the road and put it in park. I had flashbacks to my childhood of trips to Florida with four stair-step Brady Bunch look-alikes (or wanna-be’s) in the back seat and floorboard of the car. My dad would stop the car along the road, halfway through the Great Smoky Mountains, and say, “If you don’t stop it, I’m gonna turn this car around right now and we’re going back home!”
Yeah, sure you are. But back then gas wasn’t $3/gallon so who knows? He might have done it!
The Darling jumped out of the van and the bickering came to a halt. He grabbed the sliding door handle and threw it open so hard I thought it would go flying behind us. It became deathly silent inside the vehicle and little blue eyes were wider than dinner plates. This father, who was crazy about his boys, loved them to the moon and back and had the patience of Job (okay, I’m stretching that last part, he was a NORMAL dad) was grabbing French fries and child-size Cokes and pitching them over his head as fast as he could go. Bags, wrappers, entire drinks untouched were taking a trip down the grassy knoll faster than a speeding bullet.
I don’t remember hearing anything from Son #1 or, amazingly, from Son #2. I do remember The Baby in his innocent, sweet dutch-y, not-quite-2-yet voice squeak out, “My Fwee Fwies, my Fwee Fwies!”
I was holding on to my hot chocolate for dear life.
The Darling returned to his driver’s seat, there was a slight whimper from the child car seat but no vocal sounds of any kind coming from two that had lived longer on the earth.
Reminiscent of the three Taylor boys of Tim the Toolman, these three hesitated to repeat that story for several years unless they were sharing with a trusted neighbor over the fence, but once they were out on their own it was free game, just like everything else.
The Darling? He is a great sport, hey, he didn’t throw out the kids, just French fries! He actually did feel bad about the littering and returned to the scene of the crime, unbeknown to the rest of us, and pick up the actual trash. He’s cool like that. (Disclaimer #2: The following picture is about five years old, perfect for this story, and the subjects may or may not be related to the actual events that took place many years earlier.)
On this Father’s Day, some 22 years later, we want this dad to know we wouldn’t trade memories like that for anything. He gave selflessly, loved big and worked long hours to provide for his boys and their home and a lesson was taught that day that the boys wouldn’t soon forget and it was much louder, and more effective, than being grounded, sent to your room or a swat on the behind.
This is a weekend set aside to let our dads know how much we appreciate them and all they have sacrificed for us. For being there, for loving, giving and especially for listening. You are blessed if you had a dad in this category.
But what if you didn’t have a dad like that? What if your story is completely different and your childhood was abusive or your dad just didn’t care, didn’t take the time? Maybe he was distinctly absent from your life altogether. Perhaps you don’t even know his name.
And days on the calendar set aside to honor someone that you just don’t feel like honoring are, well, simply hard.
If you don’t have a father figure in your life like that, and this is a difficult weekend for you, know that your Heavenly Father can be all of those things to you and more. The 23rd Psalm says it best when it declares, “The Lord is my Shepherd…I have all I need.”
And, if you are a dad yourself? You do NOT have to repeat the pattern that was walked before you but you can give your own children a different life, a better upbringing than what you had by patterning your life after Jesus Christ.
If you dread Father’s Day because of infertility, my heart goes out to you.
Just like Mother’s Day, this day set aside in June to honor dads is especially trying for those who want to be parents but have not been able to enjoy that blessing as of yet. It is easy to tell you to be a father to a child who needs one, become a Big Brother or involve yourself in activities in your church or community. Those are definitely all good things to do and will enrich your life in so many ways. But this weekend it is just hard. It is hard to understand the “why’s” and to answer the questions in the back of your mind. Did you know that God hasn’t forgotten you and your wife? That yes, there are some families who never receive the answer to this prayer that they truly desire. Those are things we may never understand, but God does and He is able to heal that broken heart and replace that emptiness with a joy that can only come from knowing the Savior. I pray you and the one you love find that healing today.
If your father is no longer living, my sincere condolences in your tremendous loss. May your heart and mind be flooded with memories that remind you of him and his love for you.
Thank you to the all of the dads out there that are being DAD. As the saying goes, anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad.
Go be DAD to your kids and try your best not to throw FWEE FWIES out on the highway.
You might also enjoy Stuff my Dad taught me…
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Sharing with Saturday Soirée, Sunday stillness, Making your home sing, Good morning Mondays, Inspire Me Monday, Spiritual Sundays, Amaze Me Mondays, Living Proverbs 31, Mama Moments Monday, Modest Monday, Sharing His Beauty, Treasure Box Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Titus 2sday, #RaRa Linkup, #TellHisStory, Homemaking linkup, wholehearted Wednesday