If I could do it over again…

Mother's Day 2009

Me and my boys, May 2009

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I have been re-reading Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. Last night I was struck by a story that Kimmel tells in Chapter 7, ‘The Freedom to Be Different’, and I want to share it here.

Whenever I read great or interesting magazine articles, I file them away for future reference. I’ll never forget the impact one article had on me as a father.

The writer had penned one of those “If I could do it over again…” type articles about being a dad. He listed various things that he wished he could go back and do differently with his children, who were now grown. One of the things he said went something like this: “If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have made such a big deal about my son wanting to go to sleep with his desk chair on his bed.” There was an explanation that went with this incredible statement. Apparently, his son (in the three- to four-year-old range) really liked the desk chair in his room. Every night, he wanted to have his mom or dad put the chair on his bed—near hs feet on top of the bedspread. When they asked why, he’d say things like “I really love it” or “I just enjoy going to sleep with it.” When they asked what was wrong with the chair staying where it was since it was still close by, he’d tell them how much he preferred having his desk chair on his bedspread as he fell asleep. When they resisted his requests, he’d get teary-eyed or actually start crying. His parents would scold him, and he’d cry more. On those occasions when they accommodated his wild request, he’d always tell them how thankful he was. What was most amazing about those nights was how easily he would fall asleep.

For the most part, however, his parents (especially his father) would make a scene about putting the desk chair on his bed, which always led to the tears and the shouts. When they did let him sleep with his desk chair, they’d stop by the room before their bedtime, and invariably his sleep movements had already knocked the chair to the floor. They’d roll the chair back to his desk, wish their son sweet dreams, and close the door. Every morning, their boys was fine.

As this father looked back on those months of nights that their son had cried himself to sleep because of their refusal of his simple request, he was overwhelmed with regret. He realized after the fact that his son’s request, though weird… was not evil. There were no moral issues at stake, and any parent who would try and make one is simply not willing to see the obvious. This father, with the advantage of time and the wisdom gained from years of foolish decisions, wondered why he hadn’t gladly picked up the chair, set it gently at his son’s feet, and not made the least little issue of it.

…. This was a father that wished he could go back and exhibit more grace in his son’s life. (pp 143-145)

I teared up as I read this story. Then I sputtered and cried as I read it aloud to Jon. What am I keeping my boys from doing that would make them happy and, in turn, make me happier, too? In what ways am I letting my OCD tendencies take over and run the show?

If Matty wants to bring his penguin AND his puppy to pick up Elijah and Brady from school, what’s the big deal? Why do I feel the need to insist he brings just one or the other (or on occasion, none)? Yes, there is a 75% chance that he will end up dropping one (or both) of them. And with Mattias there is a 95% chance that he will fall and they will be wet and muddy by the time we get home. (Oh, and that means that my jeans will also be wet and muddy, as they have become the place to wipe all things dirty.) But there are worse things. And so what if he insists on wearing a Thomas shirt EVERY SINGLE DAY! (He and Jesse do share 5 of them, after all!)

Matty loves Thomas!

I want love and acceptance of my boys and their unique qualities to over-ride my selfishness. My personal desires. My “good sense”.

In twenty years, I want to be able to say, “If I could do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing!”


An Awesome Children’s Bible: The Jesus Storybook Bible

We moved to Aberdeen and (gasp!) left our children’s Bible in Canada. So we decided recently that it was time to get off our backsides and get our boys some Bibles! Saturday morning we headed down to George Street to see what we could find.

In the end we got four Bibles, one for each of the boys. Elijah chose The Action Bible. It is pretty perfect for him right now. It is done in cartoon fashion. He started reading it as soon as we got home and didn’t want to stop, even reading between his turns while we played Pick Up Sticks.

Brady chose The Christian Focus Story Bible. It’s not bad, but we did try and talk him out of it.

Jon and I chose 2 for the twins. The first one is Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is really neat — the stories are illustrated by many different artists, and are so different from one another.

A friend of ours, Melissa, did some major research on Bibles aimed at kids a few years ago, so we took her advice and bought the one she found to be the best. Our fourth and final Bible purchased on Saturday was The Jesus Storybook Bible. And let me tell you, it is AMAZING! (Thanks Melissa!)

Here is an awesome quote from the introduction:

God wrote, ‘I love you’ — he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror — to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing.

The way a kitten chases her tail. The way red poppies grow wild. The way a dolphin swims.

And God put it into words, too, and wrote it in a book called ‘the Bible.’

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.

No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne — everything — to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is — it’s true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell His story. And at the centre of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle — the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

Man! It gives me goosebumps! If you are in the market for a Bible to read with your kids, you really need to consider this one.

A Pathetic Goal for 2011

I had a day to myself early in January. While I was sitting in a coffee shop I decided to think about some goals for the year. One of those goals was to read 12 books in 2011. Yes, I said 12.

I love to read. But I honestly can’t say that I have read 12 books in the last 2 years. Thus, the reason for making a goal of reading one book per month.

And guess what!? I read 2.5 books in January alone! Yahoo! Following in the footsteps of Jon, I will be giving the books I read this year a rating out of ten. So here they are, the illustrious books that have thus far reached my night table this year:

First I read The Bell by Iris Murdoch. Iris Murdoch is a great author, I have discovered. She is well worth reading. I hope to make it to the library in the next few days to find another of her novels.

As for The Bell in particular, the subject matter was at times uncomfortable. Overall, though, I found I had trouble putting down and didn’t want it to end. I think that’s a good sign!

* 7.5/10

Next, I read Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie. I am embarrassed to admit that this was my first Agatha Christie read. I enjoyed it a lot, too.

It was a fun read with lots of twists. This is what I would call a holiday book: the kind that you bring on vacation and read when you get the chance, whether it’s 5 minutes here or an hour there.

* 6/10

I have also been reading Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. This is one that I have read before but in December I decided give it another, more thorough read-through. I don’t fully agree with everything that Kimmel says. I have also found it a bit daunting at times. But I love the basic idea behind this book and it has challenged me in many aspects of parenting. I will hold off on giving it a rating until I finish this reading of it.

Give me a while for this one!


I have not included this little number in my 2.5 books read so far this year. Another goal that I have this year is to read through the Bible in chronological order in 6 months.