Those who have been reading Preaching for a number of years know that I am a 48-year-old father of two little boys, ages 7 and 3. (Just call me a “late bloomer.”) So for the last couple of years, as my old seminary buddies were putting their kids in college, I’ve been putting mine in diapers.
There’s nothing that teaches humility better than parenthood. For so many years I was a brilliant leader of family-life conferences; my insights into parenthood were beyond reproach. Then I had two of my own, and I realized what all those parents must have been thinking while I was “teaching” them. (Actually, they were probably thinking this was a good time for a nap, since somebody was taking care of their kids in another room!)
Now that I’ve been a Dad for a few years, I’m beginning to gain a modest understanding of the mysterious and exhausting role of parent. For example, I’ve learned that no matter how many logical, rational explanations I offer for not spilling grape juice on the carpet, the primary response will be, “Can we get a dog now?” I’ve learned that seven-year-olds are astute critics of bed-time stories. (“Only two laughs in that one, Dad. Try to do better tomorrow night.”) And I’ve discovered that good babysitters are worth their weight in Pampers.
I’ve learned that three-year-olds desperately want whatever sandwich you don’t have ready, until you get it ready, at which time they no longer want it. (Three-year-olds are a lot like deacons in that regard.) I’ve discovered that unbreakable toys are excellent tools for breaking other toys. I recently found out that the Rugrats and Barney do not get along. And who can blame them?
When we were expecting our first child, a friend told me that my personal productivity would go down 20 percent with the first child, and an additional 10 percent for each additional child. He was underestimating.
I now know that the best definition of a boy is a noise with dirt on it. I’ve been reminded that seven-year-old boys think girls have “cooties,” and three-year-old boys think any kissing on TV is “yuck!” (OK, that’s a stage I’m willing to hold onto for awhile.)
I’ve discovered that kids’ jokes haven’t gotten any better in the last 45 years. (Knock-Knock. Who’s there? Cowsgo. Cowsgo who? No they don’t – cows go moo!) Well, some of them are a little better. (What did the snail say when it rode on a turtle’s back? Wheeeeee!!)
I read recently that having children is like installing a bowling alley in your brain. And I’ve learned that if I have any problem getting their attention, all I have to do is sit down and appear to be comfortable.
Yet every night before bed, as I peek into their rooms and watch them sleep, I can’t help but ask myself, “How does such a small creature make such a big mess?”
Still, I’ve got to be nice to them. One of these days they’ll be choosing my nursing home.
Michael Duduit is the Editor of Preaching magazine.