‘Dat’s My Daddy and He’s Comin’ Home Purty Soon!
By Kay Brown
I was only two years old when my dad left for the Korean War. Alone and seven months pregnant, my mother must have been exhausted. Apparently, in this weakened condition, she was willing to let my grandparents treat me like royalty. Mom had lost three babies before I was born, so I was a special child to all of them. I was the princess. My kingdom was the entire world and I got whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. I was spoiled rotten.
Fortunately, I was a pretty child. Each night, ringlet curls were painstakingly set in my hair, and every morning I was dressed as a little doll. Being cute very probably kept me alive. Ancient black and white photographs of me reveal a little smug pout that expresses, “Yes, I am the master of all I survey.” It was the era of my mentor, Shirley Temple and between her influence and that of Chatty Cathy, the pull-string talking doll, I learned to dictate my wishes to everybody and instantly, they obeyed.
Well, almost everybody.
We had a large, framed photo of my daddy in uniform on the top of the upright piano in my grandparents’ home. Adults used to hold me up to that photograph, point to the handsome soldier and ask me, “Who’s that?”
I would confidently parrot what I had been taught, “Well, ’dat’s my daddy and he’s comin’ home purty soon!” I soon developed a much larger-than-life image of a super-hero daddy. When he returned from the war, it would be a magical day. My daddy would be able to fix any problem.
My biggest problem was born two months after Daddy left. She had big, black eyes and stole my Mommy from me. Before long, I was horribly, justifiably jealous of my little sister. I remember removing her bootie, biting her toe and quickly replacing the sock to escape detection. I would have gotten away with it, too, if it were not for the teeth marks on her toes that matched my cute little mouth. I said I was rotten, did I not?
When I was almost three, a man in a red shirt came to Grandmother’s house and kissed Mommy a whole bunch of times. He kept holding my wiggly little sister, which was fine with me. We sat down to eat dinner. Grandmother had cooked all day; there were fried chicken legs, potatoes, rolls, jello and black-eyed peas on my plate. I ate some potatoes, chicken, rolls and jello. Smashing my peas with my fork, I announced, “I want my cake, now.”
Surprisingly, the adults, absorbed in talking to that Man, did not seem to hear me; I repeated myself loudly, “Hey! I said I want my cake, now.”
This time, Grandmother heard me and hopped up to dish up my cake, but the Man said, “No, Mother, she hasn’t eaten her peas. She can’t have any cake, yet.”
Grandmother bit her lip, wiped her hands on her apron and looked at Granddad with a funny look on her face. Then, she just sat right back down and did not get my cake.
Something was very wrong.
My kingdom was threatened. I must defend my throne! “I don’t want peas. I don’t ever eat peas, Mister. I want my cake - right now!” I roared defiantly.
What happened next, you will not believe. That Man got up from the table, handed sister to Mommy and picked me up. He carried me into the bedroom and hit my ruffle-pantied bottom with a loud swat. After that atrocity, he sat me on the bed and very solemnly stated, “You may not speak to me that way, young lady. And you will eat your peas before you have your cake.” Then he went back into the dining room to finish dinner with the family.
I could not have been more shocked.
As young as I was, I remember thinking, “Who does that Man think he is? He can’t tell me what to do!” I was much too angry to be very hurt, although I decided to cry loudly enough for everyone to hear me from the other room.
When the Man came back in to find me, I had gone into the living room. Struggling valiantly, I had pulled out the piano bench and had climbed upon it. He found me gazing with tear-stained eyes at the image of the uniformed hero I expected to come to my rescue any minute. Stricken with emotion from his first parenting confrontation with his very strong-willed little girl, he gently asked, “Who is that?”
I would not look at that Man; I straightened my chin and crossed my arms. With the fierce determination of an unjustly punished victim, I grimly replied, “Well, ‘dat’s my daddy an’ he’s comin’ home purty soon!”
Of course, my dad just melted. He had not realized that I had not recognized him as my daddy. I had been expecting a soldier-hero; he was just a man. I was expecting lollipops, not black-eyed peas. I was expecting sunshine, not rules and consequences. My bubble was burst and now, so was his. Our lives changed that day. It was a tough change for both of us.
It was a good change.
In some ways, our relationship with our heavenly Father is like my experience with my dad. We expect God to give us what we want, when we want it. We do not want to believe that when things do not go our way, it could be God rearranging things, setting parameters and disciplining His loved, long waited-for child. We hear scriptures that describe chastisement, but just cannot seem to apply them to our own lives.
Instead of a just Father, we want a Hero. Instead of His discipline, we want only His grace. We forget that true love requires both His correction as well as His mercy. We must not forget.
I wish I could say I learned to receive the discipline my earthly father provided. Often, I rebelled and became angry when Dad corrected me. I now realize that he truly wanted my best. Now that I am grown, I pray I will recognize my heavenly Father immediately as He provides correction and leads me into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. There is much at stake as I seek to lead others to His throne.
He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of our obedience. He is worthy of our love.
Because He’s our Daddy and He’s coming home pretty soon.
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