It makes a father real proud to see his son grow into a hard working honest young man. Now 26 years old, it's Daniel's close relationship with the Lord that swells Dad's chest the most. I'd like to think I've always set a good example for my son. Though at times, I'm afraid it was the other way around. Like when God used our five-year-old Daniel to rebuke me.
We were in a rush to stop off for a bite of breakfast before Daniel had to be at Kindergarten and I was due at the office. I remember voicing my frustration with the traffic.
"C'mon, c'mon, move it. Would you look at that guy? Thanks for the turn Signal! He must have got his license from the tooth fairy."
Then we were delayed at a railroad crossing as the train stopped and began backing up.
"That's just great. We're gonna be late!"
Daniel's remark was a reminder that he was learning from me. Throwing his little fists to his hips, he sat akimbo, shouting at the train.
"Sumtime ta'day would be nice!"
They are like little tape recorders at that age. It was really cute, but not funny at all. I tried to adjust my attitude for Daniel's sake. But I hadn't quite gotten the message yet.
When we turned into the lot for Denny's restaurant, I spied the perfect parking place, but couldn't get to it because someone had parked right in front of the diner. And another car was blocking my lane. I grumbled again.
"I could have gone around this guy if some idiot hadn't parked right in front of the place. That's not a parking space! Does he think he's privileged or something?"
"Yes son, what is it?"
"Maybe he had ta park kose cuz he doan have any legs."
A handicapped tag on the offending vehicle confirmed that I was the one acting like an idiot. A prayer of repentance resulted in peaceful acceptance that the world would not explode if we happened to be a few minutes late. Yet, Daniel's words would echo in my memory for a long time.
Can I honestly say we brought our kids up right? With the Lord's leadership I think we did well. Rearing children is a learning experience and the godly example we try to set for them is shaping us as well as the child. They don't come with an instruction manual. We tell our offspring how they should act and then strive to model that paradigm. As backwards as it may sound, Daniel has been instrumental as God's hand of discipline upon me.
How about the patience that child rearing forces upon us? By the time they outgrow the spills and messes around the house, (wait, they never really outgrew that one) another phase begins. Daniel's wall mural in vibrant Crayola colors and magic markers took three coats of paint to cover. Then there's the times we're forced to our knees in prayer for their protection from drugs, violence and evil influence. Teen-aged years usher in the phenomena of overnight-hair-turning-white. And, "Lord please don't let Daniel like tattoos and body piercing!"
We hear them say things like, "Johnny's Dad let's him stay out till midnight!"
Then comes dating, and the: "Can I get a car" waiting (and whining), and the: know-it-all, inflating. It can be frightening to frustrating to infuriating, creating my senile type cogitating.
But oh to have a child's faith! Daniel's prayers have returned dividends beyond our imaginations. Like the time he overheard our worrisome laments over the finances. Seven year-old Daniel strode in the room with back straight and head erect. I'll never forget his one sentence sermon.
"Everything's okay! I just prayed to Jesus!"
And everything was okay. Had we forgotten that the Lord is our awesome provider? Daniel didn't. And his reminder brought about our repentance from anxiety over money problems. We ended up having enough to take the kids to Disney World the following month. I never could figure it out on paper, but we always had enough.
Children truly are a special gift from God. The monolithic love I have for Daniel helps me understand the paternal love God has for you and me. And parenting has served as a growth hormone for my relationship with our Heavenly Father. Today, Daniel is a fine example of the "upright" man I've tried so hard to be. I'd certainly have to say, our kids have brought us up-right!
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