Friday, September 10, 2010

Oh No - I am one of THOSE Dads

You know those dads who seem to not have a clue, who other people shake their head at as irresponsible, and take for granted the roughly 10 million things their wonderful wives do to take care of the family? This morning it was pretty clear... I'm one of those dads!

Dawn had to take our daughter down to Indy early this morning, so I just had to feed our three sons and get them on the bus. How hard can that be? It was a breeze. We had plenty of time. I toasted the bagels, slathered on some peanut butter, and we had breakfast together. Holy cow they eat slow. Like "watching a glacier advance across the polar caps" kind of slow. Eventually it's time for the bus for the older two. I notice my eldest's hands have an unusually large quantity of peanut butter on them. "You have any kids in your class allergic to peanut butter?" "Nope." "Good. Still, be sure to get that peanut butter off your hands. It's time to get the bus, so hurry up, put your things in the sink, and get moving." Note carefully the how that was phrased...

I went to grab something for my other son, and hear the other two say "Bye dad!" and sprint for the bus. Me and lil J relaxed a bit, and I got him on the bus 20 minutes later. Off to work. That was easy. Phone rings on the way, I figure it's Dawn thanking me for watching the kids or double checking they made it ok. Oops, I forgot to sign his homework like she asked. Hmmm, wait that's not even her ringtone.

'Is this Laurence?' (uh oh). 'This is the nurse from your son's school. He is covered in peanut butter. We are a peanut-free zone, and there are kids here who could be in serious danger with this! You need to come and get him, get him cleaned up and changed immediately!!' 'Yes ma'am, right away!' Off to school I drove, and when I saw him and took a closer look through the eyes of a school nurse, I saw a boy who looked as if he had literally taken the knife and spread peanut butter all over his face, shirt and pants. The hands were of course clean. The nurse held her tongue but had that look of "Are you naturally this bad of a dad, or did you take special lessons to reach this level of incompetence? Seriously!?"

I took him home, gave him a mini-lecture, but knew it was my fault. "Get all that peanut butter off your hands." Indeed he did! I had forgotten how I would have done that as a 10 y/o boy. Boys don't wear clothes for style. They wear them as a large surface area napkin available at all times.

As he got changed I pondered if I had to say more or punish him. Explaining to his mom why he was in difference clothes than what she left him in would be enough. I also thought that really, we're all "covered" in "stuff." Me, you, every one of us. It's not so easy to see as peanut butter on a dark shirt, but it's there. Envy, pride, lust, a drive to succeed at all costs. Whatever it is, we're covered in it. But the love of God and sacrifice of Jesus cleans us from all that. It's serious stuff, to be taken seriously, and God commands against all these, but he doesn't nag us or scream at us. Instead he says "Son, I love you. I've got some clean clothes for you to put on, if you're willing to put them on. I'll help you get cleaned up too - but I'm far more concerned about our relationship and how you love your brothers and sisters than I am about perfect behavior." So when he came downstairs with a nervous look on his face, I told my son I loved him, and gave him a big hug. "Let's get on with our day, shall we?"

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