>Another Sign for My Home. Must. Get. This.

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>"Daddy, Look At Me!" — Showing Children They Are Important

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“Daddy look at me.” 

Those words were shouted time and time again as we went down to the tennis courts to practice riding bikes again today.  Our youngest girls just got “big girl” bikes in the past couple weeks or so.  They must be just about the smallest two-wheeled bikes one can have.  They were hand-me-downs and are now complete with training wheels.

Learning to ride a bike for the first time is an adventure…one I’m ten years removed from with our older girls.  Yes, there are falls every once in a while.  Yes, there are tears.  Yes, it can be be frustrating. And, yes, it can be scary for both parent and child.

But it’s NOT boring.

Within the last few days our girls have gotten comfortable enough on their bikes that they feel up to doing “tricks.”  So, as they ride they take their hands off the handlebars…or they stand up on the pedals…or they put their feet off to the side. 

Each new move is met with “Daddy, look at me.”  And I look.  And I smile.  Riding a bike may be old hat to me, but I need to remember that it’s completely “new hat” to them.  Even with the training wheels on, it’s an exciting moment for them when they take their feet off or make a sharp turn or go around in circles or go real fast.  As far as they are concerned, they are being very brave and adventurous.  They are testing the limits.  They are pushing the boundaries.  And they want me to look at them and acknowledge their wonderful accomplishments.

I confess that sometimes they have to yell at me more than once…and sometimes more than twice.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to have quite the same excitement as they do…although I try.   Sometimes, I’m busy talking with someone or trying to get some work done.  And, sometimes, just because they are twins, I’m busy giving my attention to the other sister.   It can be hard to give attention to both at the same time.  I’ve yet to master the art of “bi-location.”

And, yet, attention is what they crave.  And, it’s what they need.  It lets them know that I’m invested in them.  It lets them know that I love and care for them.  It lets them know that they are important to me.  And, hey, these really are big steps for a 4 year old.

So often our kids just want us to “look” at them.  They want us to recognize their accomplishments and also their pains.  They want us to, not make them FEEL as if they are important, but to recognize that they ARE important as well.

This can be a problem in the church, where, often, children are to be seen and not heard…if they are to be seen at all.  We spend so much time an energy trying to keep them quiet or remove them from the “big people” worship that it can be easy for them to think that no one is looking at them and no one is hearing what it is that they have to say…or have to offer.

At Girdwood Chapel, I’ve tried to make it so kids feel like they are involved in worship.  It does come through during communion and the prominent role they can play there, with kids participating fully with the adults.  But, more, I think it comes through during our prayer time, our “Joys and Concerns.”  For it’s here that kids really are on the same playing field as their parents and the other adults in the congregation.  They get to offer up their joys and concerns amongst the gathered body.  This is not a special “Children’s Time” set aside for them. It’s not “Children’s Church” or their own Sunday School.    And so we’ll hear about the usual joys and concerns that adults bring each week, peppered with prayers for “sick goldfish” or “4th Birthdays” or “boo boos on fingers.”  And yet, those are the real joys and concerns of some of our younger attendees.  And by lifting them up and having them recognized by the larger church body, we let them know that they are important and loved and that we recognize that their hurts and happiness are real.

What are other ways our congregation could “look at” and recognize the children we know and care about?

>"The Ants Go Marching" — Out of the Mouths of Babes

>The Ants Go Marching One By OneImage by Yellow Snow Photography via FlickrFrom bedtime last night.  Abigail, for the first time, wanted to help sing, “The Ants Go Marching.”  She doesn’t quite get the whole “rhyming” part of the song.  It went something like this:

Daddy: The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching one by one…
Abigail: The little one stopped to pick up sticks.
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

Daddy: The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching two by two…
Abigail:  The little one stopped to tie his shoe
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

Daddy:  The ants go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching three by three…
Abigail:  The little one stopped to close the gate.
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

Daddy:  The ants go marching four by four, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching four by four, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching four by four…
Abigail:  The little one stopped to pick up sticks.
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

Daddy:  The ants go marching five by five, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching five by five, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching five by five…
Abigail:  The little one stopped to went to his room.
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

Daddy:  The ants go marching six by six, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching six by six, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching six by six…
Abigail:  The little one stopped to….
Mommy:  Pick up sticks.  It rhymes.
Abigail:  Pick up sticks.
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

Daddy:  The ants go marching seven by seven, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching seven by seven, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching seven by seven…
Abigail:  The little one stopped to close the gate.
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

Daddy:  The ants go marching eight by eight, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching eight by eight, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching eight by eight…
Abigail:  The little one went up the stairs.
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

Daddy:  The ants go marching nine by nine, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching nine by nine, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching nine by nine …
Abigail:  The little one stopped to close the gate.
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

Daddy:  The ants go marching ten by ten, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching ten by ten, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching ten by ten…
Abigail:  The little one went played with magnatiles.
Daddy:  And they all went marching down, to the ground, to get out of the rain.  Boom, boom, boom.

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>"4 Means We’re Still Little Girls" — Out of the Mouths of Babes

>Cinnamon buns - after second riseImage via WikipediaConversation this morning as I worked on my grapefruit and Abigail and Bethany (both age 4 as of yesterday) worked on their milk and cinnamon buns.

Bethany:  You know, Daddy, 4 means we’re still little girls.

Me:  Oh.  What about 5?  Will you still be little girls when you’re 5?

Bethany:  Yes.  But not when we’re 6.  We’ll be big girls then.

Abigail:   And also 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 and 11.

Bethany:  And also 26. (Laughter)

I find I’m amazed at how they are growing up.

And I’m also amazed at how I’m often so much like a little kid myself.

Such is life.

But, I hope they will AWAYS be my little girls.

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>I Try Not to Take It Personally

>Sad clownphoto © 2007 Melissa Wiese | more info (via: Wylio)
Our younger girls (we have two sets of twins, ages 13 and almost-4) are very mommy-centered.  It’s worse since my wife went to work full-time last year and since we’ve upped the number of days at preschool to 4.  Tuesday is my day home with them.  We sometimes go to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  We sometimes go out to eat or go on walks. This past Tuesday…I know it sounds fun…we went to church.

And, now that my lovely wife is taking college courses to get a teaching degree so she can have a degree to do what she’s already doing–teaching–that means that she has to spend more time in online classes and studying.

What I mean to say is that I spend a whole lot of time with the younger twins.  I’m a good Daddy.  I’m the one who usually gets them dressed in the morning and gets them to Little Bears Playhouse.  I’m usually the one who makes their lunch.  I’m very much “around” and spend quality time with them.  And, as of late, Mommy’s a little more occupied.

While I’m sure all of this has an effect on them, their attachment to Mommy can be…well…obnoxious.  Julie can find it hard to leave in the AM or even to run out to pick up another kid from some activity in the evening.  They always have “one more thing they need to say”.  They need “one more hug.”  They sit on the back of the couch looking out the window and, on occasion, cry their little hearts out as Mommy drives away. 

But, what kind of…really…in a way…sorta bothers me is bedtime.  Julie and I will be in there and we’ll read and we’ll sing and we’ll tuck them in.  But, most nights, when all four of us are in there, the girls want just about nothing to do with me.  If Mommy already has one kid in her lap, the other doesn’t want to sit on mine.   They want Mommy to read and Mommy to hold them and Mommy to scratch their backs and it’s Mommy that they cry out for when they are sad.

I try not to take it personally.  I know there are some Mommy issues going on.  But sometimes I feel like a “fourth wheel” on a tricycle.  (Metaphor’s not real strong, but you know what I mean).

Julie’s aware.  We’ve talked. 

Mommy issues.

Any suggestions?