Joy Begins Here

21 09 2014

Saturday my Lady and I had the grandchildren over to spend the night which is always a little, Hailey and Grandpa.jpgwell, let’s say louder and higher energy than our norm these days. While dining out at the one local fast food refectory (You like that word?) things got a little wound up, and by the time we got back to the car it was a case of full throttle goofiness! Heading home we were rockin and rollin down the road, and that’s without the radio; laughter, funny sounds, the kids picking at each other, and more laughter. I let this go on for some time, but then in a serious voice I said, “I need all three of you to hold as still as you can and not make one more noise.” Probably thinking Grandpa was getting upset, I received full compliance to my order. Then as soon as I pulled into our addition I stopped the car and called out, “Seatbelts off.” No time at all I heard the “click” “click” “click” of their restraints, but still they remained quiet, that is until I called out, “Every Man for Himself!” And it was on, a big time wrestling melee in the back seat of the car as I drove a blistering 5mph down our quiet street and up into the driveway. Okay, okay, so I’m a little goofy myself for letting them go crazy like that, I know; but did you pay heed to the word I used twice to describe what was occurring? Laughter, it filled the air, and to me that’s like music! I never tire of the sounds of happy children. One of the reasons, as I have stated in the past was because there was a time in my life when foolishness and childlike joy was not allowed and I would be severely punished for displaying such ways. I hated that strict attitude and the person who forced it on me. But then one day, a reality check came to roost, and I realized I was doing the same thing to my children.

Cathy and I were six years into our marriage when our daughter was born to us, followed by her two brothers, each 20 months apart. We realized we were quite green going into this parenting thing, especially me under my circumstances and not having a real father figure in my life. But we did know this we wanted to raise our kids in a Christian environment with Christian morals and standards permeating their lives. So we started by taking our cues from some already established Christian families that we came in contact with, and the rules began. “Don’t do that, don’t say this, don’t listen or watch that, don’t act in such away, especially in public, and foremost stay tightly within the lines of the rules that have been set up for you so that the world can see you’re being raised in a Godly home, Or Else!!” Even though I was no where near as bad as the person who abused me, still, for a time I made my kids lives a little miserable. If you were doodling or talking when you weren’t supposed to, you were in trouble. If you appeared not to be giving your hardest and best effort, you were in trouble. If you question my authority, disobeyed a rule or sassed, you were in trouble. And if you were fooling around and worse, “laughing” when you shouldn’t, you were in trouble! Now go and have fun!! In other words I was saying “I love you, but do as I say or “Feel my Wrath!!” Isn’t that a wonderful stone to hang around a kid’s neck, not to mention giving them a false idea of what Christianity and Christ really is. I’m happy to say (and the kids are too) that we didn’t stay in “Camp Legalism” through their entire childhood, to say the least it was too harsh. Not only does that philosophy make the kids miserable, it causes heartache to the parent who thinks they’re failing if a child doesn’t turn out the way they think they should.

Okay, quickly now, here are the remedies as I see them, actually they’re no brainers.

1: Yes, I did apologize to my children for this attitude in me and for being so stupid, and if you don’t remember I’ll say it again, I was wrong and I’m sorry, I love you. (That last part I know you’ve heard because I never get tired of saying it!)

2: Kids will make mistakes, adults make mistakes; everyone makes mistakes, Big Deal! It doesn’t mean the end of life as we know it; it means we’re all human. To learn from mistakes, yes. To teach one how not to make mistakes, yes. To initiate consequences for mistakes in a way that can be deemed mental, physical or emotional abuse, well as some of my people say from my birth-state; “Hell No!” (Can you tell I’m getting a little fired up?!!

3: Never tell a child (and don’t get within arms reach of me!) that you’re doing these adverse practices so that they may learn to be like Jesus. I’ve heard that once and all I can say is what a bunch of bu—-, okay never mind that.

When Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” I’m sure His words to them weren’t “Now listen carefully, here are the rules, obey them or I’ll hit you with a lighting bolt leaving nothing but a pile of dust and eyeballs!” That’s not the Jesus I find in scripture, the one I see isn’t asking the children to heed rules, He’s telling the adults to learn from these children, love, innocence, trust and I’m guessing happiness and laughter. I wouldn’t be surprised if he grabbed up a handful of pebbles and turned them into candy for the kids. I can’t prove it, but in my thinking, if he turned water into wine to make a bunch partygoers happy He surely did something pretty awesome for the little ones He called to Himself. I call that the Miller Method of Translating, deal with it!!

In my 60 years of “Traveling the Rock Road” I have seen a lot, met many people, learned much and worn many different hats of life. The greatest one I ever wore came with the title “Dad.” My biggest regret is by the time I figured everything out my children were grown and gone from home. I thank God my mistakes didn’t deter any of them from expressing their love, to this day, for their mother and me. And I thank Him for the next hat He fitted me with, Grandpa. Awesome!!

I never raise my voice to my grandchildren, never threaten if they misbehave, but they know there are rules when they come to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and they follow them without one problem. And best of all, they all know and love Jesus.  I never tire of holding, loving, and making happy with these dear ones.

As the saying goes “To hear the laughter of a child, and to know God has placed them on this earth for you, you are truly blessed!”

So let the party and the joy and the laughter of children flow, but if you decide to do it in a car for Pete sake’s do it on a deserted strip of road at a very slow pace!
See ya again!!




2 responses

22 09 2014
Elizabeth Virdon

I love this! I wanted to be the ‘perfect’ Mom since I had waited so long for my daughter to arrive–20 years, ya know! and oh, did I fail at that, time and again. I still do. But I never stop trying, for she is worth everything it takes to help her grow and become what she wants and was meant to be. Fortunately she seems to love me, flaws and all, and our relationship is sweeter now than it has been in some time.

I learn so much from you, my friend. Thank you for the blessing that you and Cathy are to Gerald and Elizabeth and me.

22 09 2014
barb bussell

Again, John…the nail is hit on the head, and beautifully.

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