By my reckoning, I’m half-way there. The oldest son is married and, in his mind, anyway, fully independent. The youngest, my baby girl, is in love with love and will, with her father’s premature permission, start dating by year’s end. The middle guy, lanky in limb and long on sense, just got engaged Christmas Eve past.
Engagement for No. 2 tallies to mid-point, don’t you think? One married, one engaged, one making her dad shiver talking about boys.
Now I’m holding my breath. So far, it’s been a breeze. Really. None of the kids has gone off the deep end, no bad turns, no irretrievable mistakes. I keep wanting to pat myself on the back, while throwing a sop to the missus, for being such a good dad.
But several truths keep assaulting my backside with pointed horns. First, we’re only half-way there. Sure, so far, everything looks good, all signs are go, kids are hale and healthy and happy, and parents to boot. But you never know.
Not that I want to be a pessimist. Far from it. But I certainly don’t want to minimize the Forces of Badness seeking to derail the good direction we’ve set for our little darlings. So we continue to be vigilant and pray with eyes tight shut that they will go into every situation with eyes wide open.
Second, I suspect that my credits, when the film is over and the last song tries to keep the moviegoers watching the slow scroll and the final gasp for fame, yes, my credits will come toward the end in minuscule type that no one waited to squint at. My name will be right below the flunky to the assistant of the third driver of the sound boom holder on the foreign set in Timbuktu. (Have you noticed that even caterers make the movie credits? Gimme a break.)
Momma, the homeschool teacher, late-night counselor, menu planner a la budget and chef of more than kitchen concoctions, will have high billing. Top billing, of course, to the One who hears and answers desperate prayers.
I’m proud of my kids. When I’m not wanting to choke them. From married to engaged to would-be dating, they’re smart and good-looking and spiritual and have every good and godly trait of their father. And none of his bad habits. All their negative qualities are due to DNA breakdowns that will soon be reparable with a pill or a laser treatment. So my kids are near perfect. Except when I want to choke them.
But back to the breeze. So that was a bit of an exaggeration. Except we did the back-breaking stuff beforehand. The investment of homeschooling was a biggie, especially for the missus, that paid off big — it allowed us to set their worldview. After a while, we turned off the TV. Completely. Which enriched considerably our local video rental store. Dad got off the bench, the position he’d played in high school, to shoot hoops with the boys. (He quit when they started winning. After six months.) Rough approximation at humor wasn’t too bad, since corny jokes gleaned from the Internet were easily printed off to be read at the supper table. Yep, I did, too. (I’ve had TWO people tell me I was funny, just in the last week, so buzz off.) So you get the picture.
We’ve had them all for umpteen years. Like a long-term loan with heavy interest, we’re feeling the payment book get thinner by the month. We’ve poked and prodded and pruned and primed these little namesakes. Those critical early years we dragged them with us across town, across the country and across the border, and they’d ridden more airplanes by age 5 than most people in a lifetime. (Ministry is hard on tots.) We socialized them and sanitized them so they still say yes mam and no sir and please and thank you and kiss mom and dad when they leave the house. Most of the time. Not everything stuck. But most of it did. So it appears.
So we hope. And we pray. Our chances look good. Their chances look good. At least, from our vantage point at the half-way mark.