To My Son on Turning 8

Dear Carter,

Your labor wasn’t easy for mom.  Thirty-seven hours. Three visits to the hospital over the weekend before she was admitted. You tried for a regular birth but just couldn’t make it out.  The doctor had to go get you.

I remember, before he did, standing in the room with mom and the doctor watching the screen showing your pulse as it climbed and fell.   The air was thick, the lights unforgiving.

He stood and said they were doing a C Section and, in the middle of August, you arrived.

I was the first one to hold you.  Mom was in recovery and they wheeled you out to me.  We sat on a chair in the room with the television playing in the background just after midnight.  You didn’t cry.  We had peace.

You ended up in the NICU with an infection and, a few days later, we took you home.

I still look at that picture of the day you got home and wonder where the years have gone.

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You ran before you walked.  You woke at the first hint of a ray of sunshine and we spent many mornings on the couch at 6 am watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

I remember you starting preschool and, eventually, elementary school.  I remember dropping you off that day and crying at how much you’d grown and how, for the first time, you were in other hands.

I’ve watched you grow into a blonde ball of energy. Strong and strong-willed. You are my athlete, sensitive and caring. You have your mother’s big heart, even if you don’t know it yet.

Great things are coming for you. New experiences and learning, new friends and activities. I wish you joy as you learn more about who you are.

I’m sorry for not being the perfect dad, for the days where my energy doesn’t match your own and my patient is spent. I’m trying my best and will keep working to do better. I want you to be as proud of me as I am of you.

Your world will only get bigger and wider. You will keep learning.  You will inherit the good and bad from my generation and you’ll need to handle it with strength that will come from these years.

You will know the love of Jesus, of community and service.  You’ll meet an amazing woman and find yourself with a family one day.  You’ll call mom and I when your son has jumped off the couch for the 1000th time after you said not to do it and you’ll ask us how we managed.

I’ll hand her the phone and laugh.

Happy Birthday son,

Matt

 

 

The Ballad of the Manipulator

My son Carter has a way with words.  We’ve had more than one time where Val and I will be in the next room doing stuff and listening to him talk to Aiden.  In true big brother style, he will tell Aiden to say or do something he’s not supposed to do.

They will battle over stuff and Carter will get a little too rough.  Just before Aiden cries he will try to convince him that it was an accident and sooth the situation.

This morning we were discussing going to a lesson scheduled for noon. He played every angle with me, coming up with reason after reason to skip it all because he wanted to play Mario Baseball on the Wii.

My son is a manipulator.

My gut response was always the same as when you just read that sentence.  It is a bad thing, I thought, I need to work on having him be just like Val and I.

Recently, I’ve found myself reconsidering the end goal.

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Manipulators can have wildly different results.  They can find themselves in a mire of solitary confinement as people discover their ways. They drop all the balls they are juggling in the air. Their world shakes and, in an attempt to regain the control they desire over everything, they will go to any means necessary to get it back.

Manipulators also become CEOs. They start businesses and create movements. They are lawyers, advocates, champions for those whose voices may not be as loud or skilled at getting results.

They stand out.

As a father, I know Carter can’t be exactly like me.  I need to listen to and validate his emotions. This means embracing the passions that make him unique.

For years I looked down on assertive peers.  Now, God has given me one as a son and I know the lessons are just beginning.

~Matt

Feel Good Friday 10/17/2014

Melanie Bailey was in the middle of running a cross-country event in North Dakota when she came upon a competitor on the ground and sobbing in pain.  Others passed the girl and Bailey decided not to let that happen.  She helped to girl climb on her back and they finished the race together. You can find the story here.

As parents, we often get caught up in the competition of our children’s sports. We want them to win. We take them to practices and teach them the value of teamwork. Sports can have a vast upside and an ugly downside.  Bailey’s story is the true meaning of athletics.

In a similar vein, it was reported this afternoon that Chip Kelly visited New York Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz in Jefferson Hospital today before he was transferred up to a facility in New York.  With all the animosity surrounding the game, Kelly’s move is classy and almost unheard of in professional sports. He was quoted as saying “culture wins championships”. If his team follows his example, they’ll be well on their way.

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“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 9: 24-26

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