I couldn’t sleep, so I was practicing my fake crying.
Archives For Anjelia
We only use a quarter of our brains so yeah, we are idiots.
Do MU fans like to drink tea?
Last Saturday our church held its very first Foster Parent Day Out. We provided a place for foster parents to drop off their kids long enough to get some time to themselves to accomplish whatever they needed. We hosted about fifty kids from 11:00AM till 4:00PM. There were activities for every age. Kids from all over the Jackson County area came and spent the day playing foosball, air hockey, pool and the Wii. There were movies, a gym, crafts and fresh popcorn from a local theater.
I spent the last couple hours of the day at the rock wall in the Kids Zone. The Kids Zone is where we have our weekly children’s service. There is a ping pong table, two foosball tables, two air hockey tables, and in the back of the room, a rock wall that is at least fifteen feet wide and just as tall. When the rock wall is open, there is generally a pretty long line of kids dressed in safety gear ready to go. Last Saturday was no exception, especially since most of these kids have never had the chance to climb a rock wall before.
The oldest kids in our area were about ten, which is a perfect age for the rock wall. To a ten-year-old that wall is four times their height. It must appear massive in size, and it must seem like a real challenge. I spent the last two hours of the day hoisting a group of about four girls up and down that rock wall. My youngest daughter, Anjelia, was in the group as well. Being ten herself, she hit it off with them instantly.
With about an hour left in the day one of the girls looked at Anjelia, motioned towards me and said, “Is he your dad?” Anjelia answered in the affirmative. Without any hesitation the little girl looked at me and said, “My dad died.” She said it so quickly and so matter-of-factly that I was stunned. All I could think to say was, “Oh, I’m sorry.” She shrugged her shoulders and began climbing the wall. With tears welling up in my eyes I pulled on the rope as quickly and smoothly as I could. She flew to the top of the rock wall, giggling the entire way. I held her steady at the top of the wall. She spun herself around and looked out across the room and gave me a smile. I was ready to adopt her on the spot. I wanted to snatch her up in my arms and promise to be her dad forever. I would have signed the paperwork that very second. I know I can’t replace her birth father, but I was ready to give her 100% of my effort till the day I die.
For the last couple of years I have played around with the idea of adopting a son. Not right away, but eventually for sure. The idea of raising a son sounds fun. A different set of challenges and a different set of rewards. Completely new territory. After Saturday I just don’t feel the same way. I realized that after over fifteen years of being a dad to daughters, I have a hard time visualizing myself doing anything else.
I’m used to it all the Barbie dolls and teddy bears. The tiaras and princess dresses. The various sizes of of ladies undergarments slung all over the bathroom floors. The long-hair-filled brushes and clogged drains. The trash cans overflowing with feminine hygiene products. The long waits on Sunday mornings while five women jockey for mirror and bathroom time. The posters and magazine photos of boy bands taped up on all the room walls. The seemingly never ending text messages from gentlemen callers, and the frequent slumber parties complete with boisterous giggling.
At one time I was hopeful that raising a son was in my future. Last Saturday reminded me that I was meant to do something else. I was meant to raise women.
I’m teaching this amazing series in my new parenting Sunday school class.
This coming Sunday I will be teaching on the importance of making the transition from “Size and Position” parenting to “Relationship” parenting. We spend the majority of our kid’s lives in a “Size and Position” place of authority. Our kids do as we say because we are bigger, and we are the boss. Eventually, this type of parenting loses its effectiveness. Eventually, our kids get to the size where we can’t leverage our position or our authority anymore.
Lydia is fifteen and Jessica is fourteen. It took me a couple of years to realize that trying to leverage my position and authority was failing. I was convinced that if I pushed out my chest, and raised my voice high enough, I could get my children to behave.
It was around this time last year that I discovered the flaw in this thinking. I got into a disagreement with one of my daughters on the way to school. In my frustration and anger I told her to get out of my car. She refused my demands. I got out of the car, walked around to her side of the vehicle and attempted to remove her. I was completely unable to make my child do anything. I will never forget that day. It remains a powerful reminder that I won’t always be able to influence my daughters by leveraging my position or size.
I have two daughters who are teens, one daughter who is a year from being a teen and a fourth daughter who is only three years away. These are the years where my influence will be needed more than ever. For the next five to eight years all four of my daughters will be making some of the biggest decisions of their lives. They will begin to explore relationships. They will choose careers. They will begin to examine their faith at a deeper level. I want to maintain influence so I can guide them through the challenges that lay before them.
Navigating these teen years has been no easy task. Their desire for more autonomy scares me, because I’m afraid they will make poor decisions. I want to step in and force them to make good decisions. That’s my years of “Size and Position” parenting trying to break through, and I need to fight off that desire. Anyone can sling rules and guilt trips at their kids. Teens just don’t respond to “I’m the boss and you’re the kid” parenting.
The teen years aren’t about managing them anymore. It’s more about understanding the woman who is trying to surface. Hanging in the balance is either a man who is on the outside looking in, or a father who has earned a place of influence in his daughter’s heart, because he has built a relationship with her.
Stop tumbling, Anjelia!
Dad: “Have you been playing that game all day?”
Anjelia: “No, I read for 30 minutes.”
A couple of weeks ago I decided to start running to get into better shape. You can read more about that HERE.
Anyway, a few days into my new exercise routine we were on our way out of an elementary school function when Elaina asked me a question.
“Dad, can I go running with you in the morning?”
“Really, are you serious?”
“Sure, you can go if you want.”
Anjelia jumps into the conversation: “Dad, can I go running with you guys too? I’m real fast! Watch!”
Without a moment’s hesitation she sprinted about 50 yards as fast as she could.
“See how fast I am, dad? I’m fast enough to go with you in the morning, aren’t I?”
“You sure are fast enough, Anjelia!”
That evening before turning out their lights I asked them again if they were both serious about running with me.
“Five AM comes really early. Are you two sure you want to go running with me?”
They both nodded eagerly.
“I’ll get you both up at five but you only have ten minutes to get dressed and ready before we hit the door.”
“Dad, will we have time to get something to eat?” Anjelia asked.
“You can grab a cheese stick to eat before we walk out the door.”
The next morning I went in to wake them up. Anjelia sprung out of her bed and was ready to leave in just five minutes. I snapped the photo above just as we were about to walk out the door. While we were doing our brisk-walk warm-up I explained to them both that I was in the middle of trying to get into shape.
“Currently, my training is really simple. We are going to walk for sixty seconds alternating with jogging for ninety seconds.”
I was afraid Anjelia would run out of juice, so I gave Elaina some instructions.
“Elaina, if Anjelia gets tired you need to hang back with her while I finish my route. I’m here to get into shape.”
Elaina nodded in understanding and we began running per the voice instructions on the app I am using.
The route I am taking is just under two miles. Both girls did great but at about the halfway point Anjelia started complaining of some abdominal discomfort. During the walking minutes I questioned her to make sure she was okay. She nodded that she could make it, so we kept going. I again explained Elaina’s instructions to her and she agreed.
At the three-quarter point Anjelia started getting very uncomfortable and had to quit running. I could actually see our house at this point, so I reminded Elaina to hang back with Anjelia so I could finish the run, but once I got about a hundred feet from the two of them I could tell I was ruining things by leaving them both behind. I turned around and went back to them. Anjelia was crying and Elaina was holding her hand. Anjelia was so sad that she wasn’t able to keep up. I offered her my hand, she wiped the tears from her eyes, and we finished the final five hundred feet together.
I didn’t get the exact level of exercise and training I had planned. What I did get was thirty minutes of special time with two girls who think I’m the best dad ever.
It was the best morning ever.
I love the country. It’s quiet and you can catch fish.
Do you know what I hate about fiestas?
There is too much red.