The Little Things

When the girls were in the early grades of elementary school, my wife and I were always receiving crayon artwork and simple poems, cutouts of the sun and cottonball clouds, paper alphabets and glittering numerals.

As they have grown, the doors of our kitchen cabinets and refrigerator are becoming less and less populated by such sweet things.

Today, we know our children love us just as much as they did in the age of Crayola and Cookie Monster – it is just more in conversation, a telling hug, a good cry or a good laugh. The love is there, just not so much in paper and sequins anymore.

And I know it’s simple, but the photo here reveals the “little thing” that occurred just last week. A few weeks before, I had mentioned that I couldn’t get my iPhone car charger to work anymore. I kept telling myself that I needed to replace it but days quickly turned into weeks and I kept putting it off.

And then our oldest, returning from college, heard about my need and just went out and met it. She said nothing at all to me about it. She bought me a new charger and righted the world on my behalf, just like that!

And it has me thinking. We have gotten older and they have gotten older. The ways we care for each other and the gifts we give have changed.

But the little things…they remain.

20140602-072149-26509466.jpg

Only an Open Book Gets Read

20131015-185241.jpg

“We convince by our presence.” – Walt Whitman

I think if there is one thing I have learned about being a dad that has proven especially helpful to me as my daughters get older, it is this:  open up the book of your life and get to know each other.

Last week, I came home from work and the girls were so excited to meet me at the door because they each had a big surprise in store.  They had been shopping at their favorite antique stores for the day and had me close my eyes as they presented me with two gifts – a Hot Wheels car from 1976 and a coffee-table size book entitled Star Wars:  Where Science Meets Imagination (2005, National Geographic Society) with a cool introduction written by Anthony Daniels, also known as C-3PO.  My wife received a Shaun Cassidy album, the very one that she had cherished as a middle schooler and about which she had always told them stories.  She was so surprised to receive such a personal gift – and they have been listening to it all weekend!

We like that our kids know us and know our memories and know our likes and loves and dislikes, the things that make us laugh and the things that make us cry.  They know when we are happy and when we are frustrated.  We have been getting to know each other since their birth, and we have all been taking notes.

Toys have been a fun and interesting thing for us to have in common.  Today, they play with all kinds of things including some of the very same toys I played with as a little boy.One day, I came home from work to find that the girls had pulled out their box of Barbies AND my box of old Hot Wheels and combined them into a huge and very colorful car dealership.  I don’t think the toy purists would ever allow such things to be mixed, but it was sure funny to watch these very tall Barbie people sell these very little cars to each other.

And my buddies who are dads… these men are opening the book and stepping up to the plate to hit home-runs with their sons and daughters.  I’m lucky to know each one of them and learn from each one of them.  Here are just a few:  my friend Rob takes his little girl bow hunting with him now that she is a little older and his pictures of her excitement over just getting to hang out with her dad in a world of things that he loves are priceless; Andrew and his son referee high school volleyball games; Michael coaches his son in soccer and plays barbies with his daughter or takes all three fishing at a nearby lake; Dustin takes his 11-month old son strolling through the zoo; Jared and his boys love motorcycles and superheroes; Chris does his morning exercise routine with his kids, including his 3-year old daughter, who sits on his back while he does push-ups!  Some like to share the latest video games (Minecraft, Madden Football, Harry Potter Lego) or arcade favorites from their childhood (Dig-Dug, Pac-Man, Q-Bert, Chopper Command, Moon Patrol, Frogger); and others enjoy sports or music or running or walking or sledding or building snowmen and on and on and on.  They all have one thing in common – working on living their lives like an open book before their children.

And it all makes me think, open books are the best (and only) kind of books to read.