Several years back when I was pregnant with Jake, a friend from New York (a pastor and mentor to Justin) shared with us the simple little parenting tip called ‘The 3 Ds’. Dialogue. Discipline. Delight.
He was encouraging us, as we prepared to begin the journey of parenthood, to make those three Ds of paramount importance in our philosophy of parenting. Dialogue. Talk with our kids. Listen to our kids. Keep the lines of communication open and honest, even from a young age. Discipline. It doesn’t need to look the same from home to home or even from child to child, but it’s so true that children thrive when there is structure and boundaries that are clearly in place. And delight. Enjoy our kids. Delight in the funny little people that God has entrusted to our care. Don’t be so busy dialoguing and disciplining that we forget to delight in them. This was such awesome advice from a pastor and father who so evidently delighted in his children, and them in him.
I have to say, the delight part is definitely the easiest. Kids are just so darn funny that it's pretty easy to delight in them and laugh with them.
Many of the funny interactions with our children have involved genuine misunderstanding on their part. I remember shortly after Jake’s third birthday, a few days before Easter, I was upstairs and heard Justin coming inside with Jake, into our lower foyer. As they started taking off their shoes, I heard Justin saying to him “No, buddy. You really didn’t. You should trust me about this.” This made me curious, so I listened in. Jake’s earnest response floated up the stairs. “Daddy!! I REALLY did! I died and I’ve risen from the dead!!” I remember just loving listening to Justin try to explain to a three-year-old about the reality that only One has risen from the dead, and that there will be a bodily resurrection one day, but that it most certainly had not happened to Jake yet. We still don’t quite know at what point Jake’s theology went off the rails like that.
More recently, there have been some misunderstandings with the boys in matters concerning their little sister. In all fairness to them, adults really do say some strange things in some strange voices to babies, and I can only imagine how tedious it must be for little people to figure it all out.
One day Jake was hanging out with me while I was getting Ella dressed. The entire time, I’m saying to Ella in a Mama-talking-to-baby voice how adorable I find her chunky little legs: “I could just eat these little legs right up, Ella Bella. Yes I could.” Moments later, Jake walked over to her and lovingly says: “Oh Ella. You’re so beautiful. Your eyes are so blue and so beautiful. I’m going to eat your eyeballs Ella. Yes I am.” Fair enough, buddy.
A couple days ago I was loading the kids into the car, and as I was buckling up Joshua in his car seat I was talking across the backseat to Ella who was playing with a little plastic toy. Again the Mama-to-baby voice asking “What do you have, Ella Bella? What do you have? What are you playing with? Yes. What do you have?” Josh’s little hand grabbed hold of my wrist, and he seemed utterly bewildered by my stupidity as he said “It’s a toy, Mommy.” Then again, slower and louder, in case his stupid Mommy was still confused. “IT’S A TOY!” Again, fair enough.