The very week I posted a story of my own folly for not listening to my mother (pretty much my entire blog is dedicated to what happens when I don’t listen to Our Father) my daughter (15 going on 35) was explaining why she should have more freedoms in the household and why we should trust her more.
I’m stepping away from my list of 25 bible verses that helped to pull me out of my personal pit and using this as an add on to last week, I hope you don’t mind.
Why I get to tell you what to do….
The age old question again, “Why do you get to tell me what to do!” usually delivered in a moderately high pitched yell, with fists clenched and probably a stomped foot.
At some point in child development, “Because I said so!” (also delivered in a moderately high pitched yell, with fists clenched and probably a stomped foot) no longer satisfies the child and you need a real answer. This is what I thought of when my daughter asked me, and the response is not only to her but also to my son, my nieces and nephews, and to the thousands of kids I’ve taught and coached over the years…..
I get to tell you what to do because I was there when you were born, I drove at speeds that pushed the limits not only of safety but of sanity in order to see you come into this world. Because I looked into your face and saw what love truly is.
I get to tell you what to do because I have stayed up all night while you cried, because I’ve rocked you to sleep countless times, because I’ve checked your closet, under your bed and then the closet again. I’ve listened to your descriptions that were so detailed and terrifying that I began to imagine I’d find the monster there… and with a lump in my throat, and goose bumps on my arms, I checked anyway and found nothing more than a child’s imagination running so wild that it ran right into my head. Because the first night you slept through I spent in a cold sweat staring at the ceiling because I was worried something was wrong.
I get to tell you what to do because I walked for hours in the rain in search of a dropped teddy bear, only to return empty handed to the sight of you playing with the exact bear in question, giggling and warm in the living room while I dripped icy rain onto the floor. And because I felt relief rather than anger at this sight because you were so happy and content.
I get to tell you what to do because I’ve changed a mountain of diapers, the contents of which made me question whether to call a doctor or a priest… Because I’ve cleaned up your puke (usually after you said, “No dad, I’m not gonna puke…. blaoouerehggg…splatter.”) I’ve cleaned your puke off the floor, the wall, the dog, out of my car, off your sister or yourself and I’ve cleaned your puke off the toilet seat (almost made it that time!) I’ve cleaned your puke off a blanket at the park in front of a crowd of people staring at me and whispering, “Poor dad…” I’ve cleaned your puke off a restaurant table in front of a crowd of people trying to look away (still the whispers though.) I hate puke, puke makes me want to puke, warm and smelly, chunky and slimy. I hate puke, but I love you, so I clean up your puke.
I get to tell you what to do because while you were crying with your tiny body shaking in fear…
I got down on my knees and prayed in great sobs, “Please God, don’t let ever me yell at my boy like that again…”
I get to tell you what to do because I answered questions ranging from “Why is the sky blue?” to “Why do dogs have to die?” and “Why is this the way to the store?” I admit that one stumped me until you accepted “Because these are the points in space/time that exist between home and the store.” I was honestly pretty impressed that you could grasp such a deep concept of simple relativity at only 3 years old.
I get to tell you what to do because I’ve kissed boo boos, bandaged cuts, gone to or helped get you to emergency rooms, cooled fevers, soothed sunburns, and plugged bloody noses.
I get to tell you what to do because I’ve pushed a thousand swings, and slid countless slides. Because I’ve stood in ice cold water for 45 minutes so you could jump in “One more time Daddy,” about 100 more times.
I get to tell you what to do because I’ve held your little angel face against my cheek while you slept, Your warm contented sighs breathing new life into my lungs and inspiring me to be the dad you need.
I get to tell you what to do because one day, I’ll be brave enough to let you go and make mistakes, to get hurt, lost, bruised, and broken hearted. Because my hand will always be there after, to lift you up, my shoulder will always be there to soak up your tears.
I get to tell you what to do because I won’t always be here for you, and when you ask for advice you’ll hear only the stark silence of my passing, but hopefully you’ll hear my advice inside your heart and have some ideas and a plan. Because about the same time that you finally understand why I always got to tell you what to do, you will have your own kids, stomping their feet and asking, “Why do you get to tell me what to do!”
My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.