"Dad," he said as we walked down an aisle, "have we been good today?"
"Well, Bubs, you did whine quite a bit today."
"OK; but," Lex chimed in, "for example: were we kind today? Did we share with others? THAT'S what he's talking about."
I chuckled. She's having a tough time learning to ride a bike. Bubs has it down pat; he's extremely coordinated and athletic, like his mother. Lex is like me. I think I was six before I learned to ride a bike; I was picked last on every sporting team in elementary school; I still can't catch.
But she's sharp. I think she might be destined to be a politician. I choose, now, not to engage her, because she's developed multiple lines of circular reasoning that even I have a hard time arguing against. So I head her off at the pass. I imagine, if I'd chosen to respond affirmatively to her "for example" tonight in Target, she would have went on to point out how, as well-behaved children, they ought to be rewarded in some small way (a candy bar, perhaps).
They amaze me in so many little ways. Gentry, for example, grabbed a greeting card off the shelf in Target tonight, hid it behind his back, and said, "Dad. Do you know what's on this cawd?"
"No. What is it Bubs?" I responded.
"You have to guess."
"Um...is it a...chicken?"
"Daaaddeeee!" he laughed, throwing his head back like he does, as if I've just said the most humorous thing he's ever heard.
He pulled the card out from behind his back.
"It's a CUCUMBOW," he said, holding out a card shaped like a pickle.
A cucumber. I can never remember whether a pickle is made from a cucumber or a zucchini. But he knows. I know it's not a huge deal, but it's those little jolts of surprise that make parenting the joy that it is.
It's the little indicators that, despite all your failings and insecurities; despite your feelings of hopeless inadequecy, they still are developing. And they're developing well.
I took most of those pictures in the slideshow at the bottom of the prior post. I sat there in that audience, and I felt that feeling, that indescribable feeling.
It's hope. It's you looking at what you've made of you, at all the dreams that haven't yet become a reality, at the poor choices you've made, at the stupid misakes you've made. And then looking up, to see Lex singing:
"You're my brother, you're my sister;
So take me by the hand..."
in the microphone, looking out, squinting at the spotlights, trying to make sure I'm watching.
Or Gentry, singing by himself in the microphone for the first time ever:
"When we all pull togethow, togethow, togethow;
When we all pull togethow, how happy we'll be.
Fow youw wook is my wook; and ouw wook is God's wook.
When we all pull togethow, how happy we'll be!"
at the top of his lungs.
And realizing, as you look up and see them there, that maybe--just maybe--you might have got THIS just a little bit right because it seems to be working. And maybe it's OK that I didn't quite get it all exactly right; if I can just make sure I get THIS right, then I'll be happy. Because I can help them become everything that lies dormant inside them.
I sat there, and something inside my chest swelled up into my throat, and I couldn't breathe, and tears came to my eyes. Not because it was "so cute", although it was. But because I'm getting it; I'm teaching them right, showing them the right paths. And they're going down them.
It's one of my few consistent prayers: God, help me continue to get it right. They're my only hope.