Being Someone

Most of us want to belong. It provides us with the security of being part of something bigger than ourselves, but it also gives us a sense of identity.

When Gerrit was about 6, he got a Batman costume for Halloween. Then Karen’s mom made a Robin costume for Tuck by hand. It was amazing. Our dynamic duo was quite a sight as they dreamed up world-saving scenarios while playing with their friends. Gerrit really liked being Batman. In fact, he was so in-tune with the Caped Crusader’s persona that he started wearing his costume all the time.

Including when we went to the mall.

It was interesting to watch other people as our family walked through the mall with Batman at our side. We got lots of smiles. Often folks commented as they walked by that we certainly must feel safe! We told them that we surely did. Gerrit would just thrust out his chest, put his hands on his hips, and silently scan the area looking for any signs of danger. Being a super hero is a big responsibility.

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Wooden Spoons

Regardless of their age, men often resemble pack animals in their need to find out where they stand in the hierarchy. Boys are famous for testing themselves against their dads; it’s just a natural part of the process of growing up. One night at the dinner table, Tucker decided to demonstrate the latest “thing” going around with his buddies at high school. Assuming a boxing stance, with hands up guarding his face, he reached out and lightly slapped me on the cheek. It was playful, and I knew he was just testing the waters, so I told him, very calmly and clearly, not to do it again. I’m not necessarily against that sort of thing, and if I had assumed the same pose and responded in kind, the game would have been on. This just wasn’t one of those times.

The situation was very clear, but Tucker decided to see if I really meant it. He reached out again. Read more »

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Setting Good Examples

As we think about the importance of preparing our children for an uncertain world, we have to weigh the potential impact of our activities on our kids. Things that seemed OK before we had kids suddenly take on new implications. I can still remember my parents deciding to do away with their liquor cabinet when I was very young, despite the fact that social drinking was still quite acceptable in their circles. They did the same with cigarettes. They made these decisions long before either activity fell into societal disfavor; they were just trying to set a good example.

For Karen and me, issues like those were pretty much already settled when the boys came along, but there were still some things that we needed to rethink. One of the biggies was that we thought we should start praying together every morning. I know, that seems like a no-brainer. After all, we were both brought up in Christian homes, we prayed before every meal (even when out in public at restaurants), and we each had a consistent personal prayer life. But for us, praying together, out loud, was a surprisingly difficult transition to make. Read more »

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Our family has lots of code words. Many of them began with things the boys said incorrectly when they were young and we just adopted them as our personal alternatives to the correct phrases. Others grew out of a desire to be discrete. When our boys needed to use the bathroom they often said they were going to “play Yahtzee” because we have a hand-held Yahtzee game in the bathroom. I’m not sure if they ever requested permission from their teachers to “go play Yahtzee” when they were at school, but it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s a hard habit to break. We probably sound pretty weird to the rest of the world.

Since Karen grew up in a missionary family in South America, it was common for Spanish words to filter their way into our lives. “Please” and “Thank you very much” were replaced by “por favor” and “muchas gracias”. It was educational for the boys and fun for all of us. Tucker had a habit of taking the game further by substituting similar sounding words for the Spanish ones we used. At one point he came up with “Grazi Mogadishu” as his alternative for “muchas gracias”. We used it for years. Language can be enormously entertaining. Read more »

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He Bear, She Bear

Karen and I both enjoy reading a lot. The path between our house and the library is well worn. We like a lot of the same things, but we also have our own preferences. My tastes tend to run from non-fiction books about science to science fiction, while Karen enjoys mostly fiction. We share an appreciation for books that stretch our faith. For the most part, we lead a peaceful coexistence with respect to book reading, with one important exception.

Karen cheats.

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