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For the Love of Children

Shannon and I have been musing a lot lately on how quickly our time as parents is passing (translated: our boys are growing up way too fast!). Each new day brings with it new joys, and more laughter as they do and say some of the most interesting things; it's just plain fun to be a parent of two very inquisitive, energetic, and fun-loving boys.

I was going through the chest freezer late this afternoon to pull out some hamburg buns when I encountered a zip-lock bag with an odd-looking substance in it that was somewhat frozen, but not quite. It had the consistency of frozen cookie dough, the dark look of pecan pie filling, and [after I opened the bag] the very distinct odoriferous aroma of fresh cut pine. Thinking Shannon had landed on some exotic baking ingredient, I brought it upstairs to ask her what it was; she had no clue...never saw it before. With the sudden, knowing look (reminiscent of that of Mr. Wilson in the Walter Matthau movie version of "Dennis the Menace"), Shannon suggested I check with our boys as to the identification of this substance. Well, I did.

Ethan and Hunter both confidently informed me that The Substance was none other than fresh gobs of pine sap gleaned from the neighbor's trees. They very articulately told me that they were going to package and sell it as air freshener at the lemonade stand they're going to set up in a few weeks, and thought keeping it in the freezer would help keep it fresher longer. We got a good laugh out of it, but were impressed with their keen sense of business acumen, even at their young ages. I tell ya...for the love of children.

Just last week, we were looking over the graded homework that our boys brought home; teacher hand-written "A's" were on the majority of returned paperwork for both; we were (and are) so proud of them. Then I got to one particular paper Ethan had written inscribed with an "A+". I asked him about it, since the subject matter was, well, rather interesting. He said the teacher had given the class a number of specific words (italicised below) that they had to use in a sort of pseudo-journal entry; here is what Ethan wrote:

"Dear Journal: I just discovered an incredible planet called Flopdeepod-o-blocoeplob! I found it by driving my remote-controlled probe out of my spacecraft. There's a ton of craters on this planet. It has an atmosphere made out of whipped cream, hydrogen, nitrogen, helium, and cupcakes! Signed: Your Owner, Ethan". I thought I'd pass out laughing; that's my kind of planet! And what a wonderful imagination (no Boa-babs on this planet, unlike the more complicated planet of Antoine de Saint Exupery's, "The Little Prince"). I tell ya, for the love of children.

A few nights ago, heading into the weekend, I had finished reading Bible stories and some poetry from William Bennett's wonderful compilation entitled, "The Book of Virtues" (as I do with our boys every night before bedtime); we had said our prayers together, and I was tucking them into bed. Hunter launched into giving me a bear hug to end them all, then moaned a little, but didn't release his grip. I asked him if he was OK, and he just said with a little sigh, "Yes daddy, but I don't want to let go...I love my daddy."

If you are a parent, especially a father, you know what an encounter like that can do to a father's heart. I didn't want to let go of him, either...or of the moment. They fly all too quickly, you know, and before long, they'll be grown men out on their own, making their own way, perhaps reading fun stories to little children of their own some day. Someone once penned the following words that can likely be found hanging on a plaque in many a home, and adorned on classroom walls of elementary schools to the effect of: "One hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had, nor what my clothes were like. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child." Oh, for the love of children...isn't it a wonderfully precious privilege to be a parent? Soli deo Gloria!