Monday, November 16, 2009

I learned from my daughter this weekend!

Ok, so I like to do this blogging stuff early in the morning, but that just didn't work out for me today, so I want to make sure I do it. Afterall, Brian Reid, Rebel Dad himself, said you have to be consistent and I don't want to fall off the wagon already.

This weekend was much better than I had expected. I ended up going with my 13 year old daughter on a church retreat. We left Friday night and were there most of Saturday. At the convention I had committed to my Omaha SAHD buddies that I would attend a DNO meeting that night. They scheduled it around me, so I couldn't cancel on them. So, we told the youth director at our church, that she wouldn't be going. Then two days later, my wife's other plans didn't work out, so she was going to go with her, but they would have to be late because of her job obligations. My daughter was fine with that, so I emailed the director and said we were now in.

I thought things were set, and I was happy how thing were turning out. I had Friday night free and my daughter and wife would get some alone time. Then I found out, through my email list, that the DNO wasn't going to be well attended at all and it looked like about 3 to 5 guys were going to be available. Priorities, priorities, priorities...drinks with a couple guys or quality time with my daughter. I chose my daughter. I am so glad that I did!

I emailed the director again and said plans had changed for the third and last time. I was going to take Kedzie! This freed up my wife for another work obligation and allowed the two of us to go with the group on time to the retreat.

Friday night was pretty laid back with most of the kids figuring out the layout of the land and the bunkhouses. The parents too were just getting aquatinted and adjusted to the routine for the next 18 hours. We had some team building, some Bible time, a campfire and then snack time before bed. The cabin we were in fell asleep early, much early than most, from what I was told, so I got a good night well as one can sleep in a bed that is too short for you. I never knew what tomorrow would have in store for me.

I don't wake up well in the morning and it usually takes me awhile to want to talk or socialize with anyone. That was again the case Saturday morning. The boys in my bunkhouse were up early. In fact, one had finished off a Dr. Pepper before 7:30 in the morning. After a hot shower and a change of clothes I was ready for the day. Headed down for breakfast and looked forward to hearing about my daughter's night.

She came in shortly after I had and filled me in on the late night adventures in her cabin. She fell asleep early, but the other girls stayed up way to late to be up already. Once all the kids and adult leaders had entered the room, the director stood up and asked for a volunteer to lead the morning prayer. I thought I could do it, but wanted to see if one of the kids would do it. The director pointed behind me to the kids table to one of the kids who had volunteered. I bowed my head to listen intently to the prayer. I thought it would be one of the simple but appropriate prayers we heard last night for dinner, but it wasn't any thing like that.

All of a sudden my daughter started praying! She started thanking God for the day, for the young disciples that were there, for the learning that all of us will experience, that how we all want to be closer to God, that the leaders will help to teach them how to be better Christians. I tried to focus on everything she said, but it got hard, because I was crying. Not just little tears, but big, wet, joyful tears. My daughter, a 13 year old, was praying in front of a bunch of strangers. She stood there proud, confident and with conviction and delivered those words for all to hear. I didn't care what else happened that day, my life was better because I had attended this retreat with her!

God worked in her and in all the plans of that weekend to make it possible for me to share in that moment with her. I don't think she even knows how that moved me. I am going to tell her and thank her for her words. I learned how to be a better Christian that weekend and it wasn't from listening to a pastor or some biblical scholar. I learned from my daughter. Praise God.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sports..why do I care so much?

I mentioned pushing my kids in sports in my last blog, so I thought it appropriate to talk about it now. I push my kids to be athletes! I am not proud of it...well, maybe sometimes. I think sports are important in a kid's life and I want them to become conditioned and love sports like I did. Is there anything wrong with that? No...not until it goes over the edge. I like to teeter at that edge.

For some reason I think that these kids should do thing flawlessly. I never was perfect, but that doesn't occur to me when I am sitting there watching the game unfold. I really get crazy at times. Now I am not like those parents who yell at the players or say much to the refs, but I do say things that I should keep to myself. Why is that? I am not a bad person or think my kids are the stars of their teams, but I can't control myself. I can feel my blood pressure raise and a big knot in my stomach when the game isn't going well. Sometimes I have to walk away from the game because I get too heated. I don't want to be like this, but I don't know how to be anything else. I even had a ref tell me last year, "Relax, Dad, this is only a 7th grade game."

When my wife and I actually get to go to one of our kid's game together, the car ride usually consists of a talk that we have about how to control my emotions during a game. Well, it is more like my wife telling me to be supportive of our daughter and keep the other comments to myself. I say, "I'm really going to be quiet this game," but that never happens. I see some of the other parents who sit and watch silently as the game goes on never showing any emotion and I want to say, "How do you do that!" But then I turn back to the game to see what I just missed. I know there is some happy medium, but I don't know how to get there.

The funniest thing about my reactions at sporting events is that in any other setting, I keep my thought and emotions to myself. I avoid conflict like the plague. Just ask my wife about that. Maybe she will blog about that sometime. So what is it about sports that brings it out in me? When I was growing up, baseball was my life. I could have practiced it all day! I loved it and couldn't wait to go to a game! I talked all the time on the field and many times would annoy the other team with all my talk. I was a good player, but never was great. My parents were very encouraging to me as a player and heard often how proud they were of me. Only once did I ever hear anything negative from my dad during a game, when he yelled at one of my teammates to "take the piano off your back." Maybe his passion for sports is where I got my passion for sports. I was hoping as I turned 40, I would mellow out some, but so far it hasn't happened.

I am writing about this to hopefully start a dialog about how others with kids that are in competitive sports deal with their emotions during games. At the end of the day, I want to be known as the dad who always supported his kids in whatever they wanted to do. There is that point when you can go to far and I am nervous that someday I will go there. Maybe by just putting the words down for all to read will be all that it takes to keep me and my emotions in line.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween isn't what it used to be!

What ever happened to the time when you would trick or treat until the homeowners actually turned off their lights and you had to go home? Or when you had to stop at home to empty your plastic pumpkin so you could go trick or treat some more? Or when you would change your costume half way through the evening and trick or treat at the same homes again(well, maybe I was the only one to do that)? The point is, that Halloween has changed and I don't like it as much.

Maybe it is just my kids, but after an hour, they are done. I keep seeing all these house that they haven't gone to and think, I bet they have good candy! Unlike my pushing of my kids into sports(another day for that story), I decide that candy isn't worth it and I take the kids home. Maybe I need to do what many of my neighbors do. They drive their kids around the neighborhood in golf carts! The dads are in the front with some good tunes blaring and beers in their hands as they pull up to each house and the kids in back get off and run to the door.

Maybe it is just the neighborhood we live in, but I must have seen 10 golf carts out on Saturday night. Each cart had it's own flare. One had big oversized tires, one had had a rain/wind protector around it, one was all decorated in team colors, but it was dark and I couldn't make out the team logo. One actually had lights, so you could see it coming in the dark. I saw a not-so-sophisticated vehicle too, but it wasn't a golf cart; it was a lawn tractor that had a trailer attached. On the trailer the dad had put folding chairs and he was pulling about 6 dads and kids. The best site I saw all night though was a pick-up truck pulling a long trailer with at least 10 parents sitting on it. What were they doing? They were throwing candy to the kids! I said next year, we should just have a neighborhood parade for Halloween and the kids sit on the side of the street and all the home owners throw candy to the kids! Talk about no effort for the kids! The one part of that parade vehicle that did make me really happy was seeing a friend, who is recovering from cancer, get to ride in the cab and and enjoy the festivities with his family and friends.

Don't get me wrong, I have no issues with anyone celebrating the way they want for Halloween. For me, it is just really hard to get used to that. In my opinion, the fun is running from one house to the next, trying to beat your buddy to the door bell. It is the one night of the year that it is ok to run through the neighbor's yard and not have to use the sidewalk. It is that one night when you ring the doorbell and you aren't prepared to give your speech about how if they help with your magazine drive, it will help you get a better education. All you have to do is say "trick or treat," and you get free candy.

I will admit that I have fun on Halloween. I am glad that I have a couple of kids that are young enough for me to go out with them. Sure I like to steal their Reese's Peanut Butter cups when they aren't looking, but more importantly for me, it love to see their expressions and joy in their face when they get something they really like or when at the end of the night, they want you to hold their candy bag in one hand and they want to hold your other hand as you stroll back home. Life is good! Plus, another year without a razor blade, needle or other foreign object in the loot! 39 years and counting!