Not My Finest Hour

I’ve written before about how much of a roller coaster ride being a dad can be.  Not everyday.  But some days.  Yesterday was one of those days.

After work, I came home and took Ella outside to ‘help’ me rake leaves.  I’m usually so far behind on raking, but this year I’m determined to get at least something to the curb in time for the city’s pick up schedule.  This is no small feat, my yard has at least four giant trees that cover my grass with layers of leaves, two tall long needle pine trees that stick to the ground like velcro, and one long branch of a black walnut tree from my neighbor’s yard that drops tennis ball sized seeds all over that weigh a ton when you rake them.  Add to that a four year old girl who loves to slide, throw, jump and kick whatever semblance of a pile I’m able to get together and you can guess how much I actually got done.

But I didn’t really care. This was the high point of the first hill of my roller coaster ride.  I joined the fun and took scoopfuls of leaves in my rake and threw them up in the air with a spin, and watched Ella giggle with delight.  She took Peppers to play in the leaf pile and then set him in the swing next to her so I could “Blastoff!” both of them at the same time.

Then a helicopter from the local news team came flying overhead, and we signalled to them with the bright blue tarp that I was using for the leaves.  She helped me wave it in the air, and they must have seen us because they kept circling back right over our heads about five or six times.

On the way into the house, I caught sight of the moon while it was still daylight out and showed it to her.  She was amazed and wanted to get her telescope right away.  I’ve been trying to teach her the phases of the moon, so we discussed how it was a semi circle and that it will be a full circle in a few days.

Then dinner time came and it went downhill.  Fast.

Pax was in the living room watching Thomas, when I turned it off, picked him up and brought him to the kitchen.  His two year old tears started flowing and he kept saying, “Mommy!” over and over again.  He refused to eat and would not stop whining.  I put him in time out, but of course it did nothing.  I knew he just wanted to watch his show, but I wanted to eat and so the conflict continued. 

After dinner his whining did not stop, bathtime he whined, playtime he whined, it wore me out.  I laid down on the couch and just told Ella and Pax to go play. 

They could tell I was upset.  And this changed their moods.  Ella came over and said, “I just want to give you a hug.”  which caused Pax to stop crying and come over and say ‘Hug” while putting his arm around my neck.

I was just wore out at that point.  I’m not proud of it, I told them to leave me alone, that their crying made me tired.  And then I went and played the piano.  I don’t know why I played the piano.  Just something about it seemed like something I needed to do at that moment. 

After that, Ella and Pax played nice together.  And Erica put the kids to bed, taking over my normal nightly book reading tour.  I think I really needed that break, but I’m sad that my kids saw me upset.  I want to protect my kids emotions, and I failed. 

The night ended with some good news though, we celebrated Ella having a breakthrough moment with something she’s been having a hard time with lately, and so we gave her a fun surprise which she loved and for that I’m glad it ended on a good note at least. 

Some days it’s a roller coaster ride for me.  How’s fatherhood going for you?


5 Replies to “Not My Finest Hour”

  1. Hey Lee, this is Pete Kral. We met at the adoption meeting at Grace Church back in January or February. Subsequent to that meeting we learned that we were expecting and the adoption plans got put on hold. We became first-time parents a little more than 2 month ago to a beautiful girl we named Sofia. I’m enjoying every minute of it, but I’m stricken by how life changing having a child really is. Anyway, thanks for the encouraging blog. Pete


    1. Yeah, I remember you! Congratulations on the new baby. We should connect again sometime, but I know it can be hard with a two month old to get out espec. in the winter months. thanks for the encouraging comments!


  2. Lee, maybe it’s ok for your kids to see you ‘not in your finest hour’? Just thinking out loud here but in some sense it’s good for them to see that dad is real and has frustrations too just like us. even thinking about God sharing his frustrations with his children sometimes too – even his own tiredness at their rebellion. in any case it seems to have had an immediate positive effect on Pax and Ella. just some thoughts….and thanks for sharing 🙂


  3. I mean, I am not a dad – “just” a mom here, but I think it is good and healthy to be real with our kids. I think it is ok for them to know that their behavior does not make us feel good. I think it is important to stress how much we still love them, but that we are not enjoying their poor attitudes or bad choices and that it makes us sad and upset. I think it makes it real for them. I find, that real honest, open, but secure conversations are good for them. Keep it up – sounds like you are doing a great job at the hardest one you have been given!


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