Thursday, June 27, 2013

My kids need me engaged for the whole process, not just the start.

Our boys got home from camp yesterday.  It was so great to see them and have them home.  One thing I forgot about . . . I told Colin we would go to Target and let him buy a K-nex roller coaster for him
to build as soon as he returned from camp.  It was the first thing he asked when he got home.

So, after dinner last night, we went to Target and he got his roller coaster.  It was the last one in the store and he had just enough money for it, with a dime to spare.  As soon as we got home, he tore the box open and started building.  Colin was happy and I had done my dad duty well.  I thought it was over.  Nope.

About an hour later, with the coaster half-built, Colin broke down in tears because critical pieces were missing from the set - so he thought.  At this point, I must be honest, I didn't want to hear anymore about this roller coaster.  And, I was pretty sure he had just lost the pieces on the floor.  So, at first, I just said stuff like, "Keep looking.  You'll find it."  Then I changed my tune to, "We can call K-nex and ask them to send the missing parts (which I dreaded too).  Then I changed to, "Colin, if you didn't rip the box open so violently and destroy it, we could have just exchanged it at Target."

Of course, none of my adult's perception of a kid's problem helped him at all..  A half-hour into it he was still crying and just getting more upset.  Finally, I realized I just needed to engage and do what I didn't want to do.  I stopped watching TV and went to the table where Colin was working.  I showed him the parts list in the instruction manual.  I explained to him that you should always inventory the parts before you start a project like that.  And over the next hour, we deconstructed his half-built roller coaster, counted the pieces (most no bigger than a dime) and marked them off, one-by-one, from the inventory list. At the end of that hour, we found (together) that he had every piece he needed and now he's ready to confidently start his project again.

So, what's the moral of the story? I'm a great dad?  No, I'm a jerk.  It took me a half-hour of my boy crying to finally stop watching Master Chef and help him.  Knex sets are from satan?  This may be true, but is beside the point for now.

The moral of the story?  More accurately, the lesson I think God reminded me of this morning is this.  As a dad, my job is never done.  There is always another level I can go to with my boys to teach, love and build them up.  My kids need me engaged for the whole process.  So do yours.

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