Letters to my Children: Most Women do it!

Dear Malina,

The other night I laid down with you while you fell asleep.  As I covered you up and took my place on the pillow beside you, there was an instant change. You went from being half awake to bursting with life, and energy, and words. You kept talking and talking, sometimes about something in the room, sometimes a quote from your favorite movie. As I lay there, warm and tired, your words fade into the background.

Moments later, something startled me and I realized I had dozed off. I also realized that you were still talking. Only now you were on your side, facing me with your head propped up by one hand, just talking away.

I never knew it started so young, and I started to laugh.photo

When your Mom and I first got married, I discovered that her brain and communicative functions became increasingly active as soon as she was lying down.  Even now there are days when we fall in to bed, exhausted from a grueling day of work, children, schedules, and commitments.  And yet, as soon as we lay down, your Mother turns on her side, and wants to know my opinion on immigration, or share thoughts about how to grow our relationship, or the best strategy for planning for your future. In the stillness and quiet of the night, she is alive with hopes and dreams and to-do lists, and friendly banter, while I do my best to emit very  thoughtful and caring grunts to show I am still engaged. After a while, I pretend to reach up to the top of her head, and feel around for the “off” switch. She says, “ok….I’m done” and we drift off to sleep.

I don’t understand this behavior, as it is obviously the sign of a higher functioning species than me.  And I don’t know if this is true of all women, I only know that when I share this observation, it is usually met with agreeing nods and smiles.

So I kiss your forehead and tell you to lie back down.  Turning over, I pretend to go back to sleep. You continue talking to yourself for a few minutes, and then, having spoken enough words for the day, you fall asleep.

When I see you, Malina, I see your Mother in so many ways, and the other night was yet another reminder.

So keep talking honey, and I’ll do my best to always keep listening.

Love,

Dad.

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Talking in the Bathroom: The Difference between Men and Women

It’s dinner time and we are at a restaurant.

As soon as the first bite of food hits my lips, my daughter taps me on the leg and whispers in my ear, “Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom.” The timing of that statement every single night at dinner is beyond coincidence. I smile at her as if to say, “Of course you do honey.”

I push back from the table, grab her little hand, and we walk to the front of the restaurant. As the door opens to the bathroom, we are flooded with sights and sounds that must all be pointed out AND commented on by my very observant child.  There is paper on the floor and a bulb is blinking; the music is loud, it’s freezing in there, and it smells like fruit. “Which door should we go in?” she asks. “How about this one?” I answer. “No, let’s go in the big door” she replies. “Okay, honey, just go in” I said. “No, I want you to go in with me.” I stand inside the stall door as she prepares to sit down.

With her elbows on her knees and her hands on her chin, she begins to carry on a very LOUD conversation, sometimes with me and sometimes with herself, her tiny high-pitched voice bouncing around the room. Someone else enters the room and she says, “who is that Daddy?” I look at her with bulging eyes and quickly shake my head back and forth. “What?” she asks. “Nothing” I whisper.

She doesn’t understand….partly because she is three, and partly because she is a female.  You see ladies, men have a very long and technical list of rules to follow upon entering a bathroom.  I know it doesn’t make sense and it may even seem petty and immature….I didn’t make the rules, I just follow them. My daughter was breaking rule #1: You do not talk! This is followed very closely by the other rules: You don’t look around, you don’t make eye contact, you don’t stand particularly close to anyone else in the bathroom. When you enter the stall, you enter a guarded space, a quiet space; you certainly NEVER carry on a conversation with the person sitting in the stall next to you!

The gentleman enters the stall beside us, and I see my daughter staring at his shoes. I raise my finger in the shhhhh position, but it is too late. “Who is that?” she asks. “I don’t know honey, are you done?” “I like his shoes” she says loudly. “Okay, are you done?” But she is not done, and she won’t be done for another 10 minutes.  Someone else enters the bathroom and pulls on the handle to the door of our stall. Adeline, looks up with her mouth open, I reach out and put my hand over it. She pushes my hand away and yells, “Who’s there?”

I am dying inside.

“Be right out” I said. “I’m going poo poo” she informs him. At that point, having followed my brave daughter into the unknown world of talking in the bathroom, I start to laugh uncontrollably.  “I’m done” she says with a smile. “Oh thank you” I reply.

We wash our hands and head back to the table, exhausted.  As soon as we get back to our seats my Son says, “I have to go to the bathroom too!”.  Before my Wife can even respond I shout, “I’ll take him!”

We walk back up to the bathroom….in silence….the way God made us.

Letter to my Son: Why you need your Sisters

Dear Evan,

Right now you don’t fully understand why it is you have or need a sister, let alone two of them. Some days it may appear that your sisters exist to get in your way and touch your things. The three of you are learning how to live together under the same roof, with access to the same toys.

I know, because like you, I grew up with two sisters. A few things I learned very early growing up with sisters. 1. They cry a bit more than I am generally comfortable crying.  2. They have more to say than I generally feel comfortable saying.  3. They enjoy a different version of make-believe and pretend than I do.

I know a brother would have been nice. But you and I don’t get to decide those sorts of things (and don’t expect a sibling of any kind at this point).  But, Evan, believe me when I tell you that you need your sisters, both now and in the years to come. What can seem like an inconvenience at this point will in time prove to be one of your greatest assets.  Growing up with two sisters can sometimes feel like you are on the outside of a strange world looking in….that never changes. But all of that time spent up close with your sisters….all of the confusion and frustration that comes with trying to navigate those relationships will ultimately make you a better man….and one day, a better husband and Father to your own children.

You and I have lots to learn about Women.  Much of that education will come from your family, and from Adeline and Malina in particular.  I owe so much of how I see the world, how I view other people, and even the way I communicate, to growing up with sisters. One day, you’ll see as I do now, that sisters are a gift we brothers often take for granted.  Rarely do I tell them just how much I miss them….and how deeply I love them.

So for now, you don’t have to wear the wig or pretend to be the “student” or the “daddy”.  But it wouldn’t hurt to take Luke Skywalker on a ride in the Barbie mobile once in a while.

Love your sisters….they will always be there for you.

Love,

Your Dad.

This post is part of my “Letters to My Children” series. You can read more about it by clicking here.

A Letter to My Daughters: Throw the Pictures Away

(This letter is part of a series of blogs entitled, “Letters to My Children”. You can read about it by clicking here.)

Dear Adeline and Malina,

Throughout your  life people will try to offer you a picture of how they see the world, and how you should see it too. Then there will be people on T.V. or online magazines that will give you pictures of how you should view yourself.  They will try to tell you what you need to change about the way you look or the food you eat in order to match those pictures.  Eventually, Disney (assuming they still exist) will give you a picture of who you should marry and how to live “happily ever after”.

In every stage of life, we start to collect these pictures and refer to them regularly to see how we measure up. The problem is that life rarely follows the pictures we have in our mind.  Adeline and Malina, you cannot let those who know you only as a demographic, sell you on the idea that your worth, your value as a woman, is based upon your hair, or your clothes, your shoes, or your measurements.  You are NOT your dress size, so don’t let anyone give you a picture of life that says you must fit into their mold of beauty in order to be considered beautiful.

There will be moments where you will look at the pictures you carry around of what people have decided “beauty” looks like, and you will look at yourself in the mirror, and you may start to feel like you just don’t measure up. In those moments, you have a choice to either hold on to those unrealistic “pictures” of beauty, or throw them away….throw them away.

True contentment in life comes when we throw away the pictures we collect of how life should be or how we should look, and we embrace the life that God has given us and the way God has made us.  We then allow God to paint the picture and that is what we carry with us.  The way you will look, your size and shape and features, none of those are a surprise to God. God crafted you and God is the one determining the steps of your future, long before you took your first.

I know there will be days when you will struggle with these issues of self-worth and value. I know you will probably go through things growing up that I cannot or will not understand (your Mother is already preparing me). But you are my girls, and I will spend the rest of my time as your Dad, reminding you that you are loved, that you are valuable, and so beautiful, inside and out.  That you are worth the entire world to your Mother and I….and worth the God of the universe giving His only Son to die for you.

But for now, I’ll just watch you put on your Mom’s shoes and jewelry, or watch you as you  dance around the kitchen….those are the pictures I will always carry with me.

Love,

Your Dad.

In a Relationship? Watch this Clip!

My  Wife and I were at a marriage conference recently where they showed a humorous clip from the movie, “Shenandoah”, Starring the great, Jimmy Stewart.

You can watch the clip below and then tell me what you think. I would love to hear your comments on his observations about women and the “answers” he arrives at.

Enjoy!