I love the title of one of Dr. James Dobson's books: Parenting Isn't For Cowards. As a father of three, I, too, know that raising kids is not for the faint of heart.
I remember reading about a guy who stopped in the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up a couple of items for his wife. He wandered around aimlessly for a while searching out the needed groceries. As is often the case in the grocery store, he kept passing this same shopper in almost every aisle. It was another father trying to shop with a totally uncooperative three year old boy in the cart.
The first time they passed, the three year old was asking over and over for a candy bar. Our observer couldn't hear the entire conversation. He just heard Dad say, "Now, Billy, this won't take long." As they passed in the nest aisle, the 3-year-old's pleas had increased several octaves. Now Dad was quietly saying, "Billy, just calm down. We will be done in a minute."
When they passed near the dairy case, the kid was screaming uncontrollably. Dad was still keeping his cool. In a very low voice he was saying, "Billy, settle down. We are almost out of here." The Dad and his son reached the check out counter just ahead of our observer. He still gave no evidence of losing control. The boy was screaming and kicking. Dad was very calmly saying over and over, "Billy, we will be in the car in just a minute and then everything will be OK."
The bystander was impressed beyond words. After paying for his groceries, he hurried to catch up with this amazing example of patience and self-control just in time to hear him say again, "Billy, we're done. It's going to be OK." He tapped the patient father on the shoulder and said, "Sir, I couldn't help but watch how you handled little Billy. You were amazing."
Dad replied, "You don't get it, do you?" I'm Billy!"
Fatherhood can be a challenge! Consider the first-time father who was taking his first turn at feeding his baby some strained peas. Naturally, there were traces of the food everywhere, floor, ceiling, and especially on the infant. His wife comes in and sees the huge mess. She looks at the baby, then at her husband who appeared to be just sitting staring off into space oblivious to the whole situation. She asks, "What in the world are you doing?"
He replied, "I'm waiting for the first coat to dry, so I can put on another."
While shopping and feeding may be challenges, nothing is as hard for a parent as watching a little one get sick or hurt. Every parent knows the feeling of wishing they could trade places with an ailing child. On July 8, 1979, Rose and I experienced that first hand. One Sunday afternoon., we took some friends by to look at a new house we were thinking about buying. We were busy inside while our two older kids, ages 9 and 10, had decided to stay outside and play in the front yard.
A few minutes into the visit, I heard a commotion at the front door. It is all sort of blur. Rose says all that she heard was me saying to our ten year old son, "Stay outside! Don't get blood on the carpet." Tony had his hand over his fore head as blood streamed everywhere. He and his sister had been racing on the sidewalk. He tripped and struck his head on the corner of the hatchback of our station wagon.