In honor of Father's Day...
Children: Ages 6 and 8
Soccer season was blending right into baseball season, and Clay, being a good dad, was in the front yard playing both sports with our boys.
Clay, also being Clay, decided that it would be GREAT fun to pitch a soccer ball to our small children so they could hit it with their aluminum baseball bat.
Micah, our cautious and thinking child, questioned the "brilliance" (and safety) of his father's new brainstorm and refused to be the guinea pig.
Evan, the apple which fell right at the foot of the proverbial tree, jumped up to volunteer.
The soccer ball SOARED across the yard as Evan's bat made contact.
Oh, what fun they had discovered!
Micah soon decided that success had been proven and that he needed to join the crazy.
(He may be cautious, but he knows not to miss out.)
He stepped up to the plate, swung away...and his bat bounced squarely off the soccer ball and ricocheted back into his head. The resulting bump grew so big and so fast that little brother broke down into tears at the sight of it. ("WHAT happened to Micah's HEAD???!!!???")
This mother's heart sank as wails reached her ears.
My family of boys entered the house, father holding one weeping child, little brother still traumatized.
My eyes met the eyes of my beloved. Mine questioning. His eyebrows raised...and I heard his famous phrase, "It seemed like a good idea...at the time."
Child: Age 10
My youngest boy, the animal lover, desperately wanted a pet he could snuggle.
Fish just weren't cutting it anymore. With our allergies, he knew he was fighting a losing battle if he tried to push for a furry friend...so he focused on the reptile family.
Clay caught a snake as a boy...and permanently lost it somewhere inside the old farmhouse.
Clay's parents never knew about the arrangement, but since Evan's wishes were on our radar...Clay was NOT going to repeat that particular scenario in our suburban home.
No pets at the Rassi home - except fish. Conversation over.
Clay doesn't like to be mean. He prefers to lighten a tense mood with a joke.
Knowing this about my husband, please give him a LITTLE grace when you hear what happened next. (That's what I have to do - daily - as I remember that his heart is pure even when I don't agree with his methods).
***The next day***
I was walking down the hall, Evan behind me, when he started whining, "Dad told me I couldn't have a snake! He didn't even talk to YOU. He just said, 'NO'. He said the only snake I'm am allowed to have is a Trouser Snake."
I stopped in my tracks and lifted a prayer, "Please God, let there be an ACTUAL SNAKE called a Trouser Snake."
I slowly turned to look at my son and innocently asked, "Um, what's a Trouser Snake?"
He fought very hard to stay upset (he was trying to manipulate his way into his mother's sympathies after all), but a smile peeked through his eyes as he pointed to the place in his trousers that covers the natural "snake" that God attached to all Y chromosomes.
I sighed and responded, "I'm sorry you can't have a "real" snake, but that's just how it is...and you probably shouldn't tell your friends about that OTHER snake. It is kind of like Santa Clause. We'll let THEIR parents tell them all about it, OK?"
Then I shot off a text to my other half: "A Trouser Snake? Really?"
I could almost see him wince as he realized he was "caught". His response?
"Sorry. I wanted to distract him from the pet. It seemed like a good idea...at the time."
Now, let me share with you how the previous scenarios support that Clay is actually a GOOD father:
- Clay makes these parenting "faux pas" because he gets carried away HAVING FUN WITH HIS CHILDREN. He adores them. They are two of his very best friends...so he sometimes forgets that they don't have 30 extra years of life experience and maturity to be able to handle his humor. That's why there is grace. God gave these boys to my man. He is the VERY BEST THING FOR THEM. I'm not worried.
- As he jokes, our boys learn to rise above each situation and look at it from a higher (big-picture) perspective. They learn that laughter can get us through an awful lot of heartache...as long as we remember where our joy comes from. It's not from following rules and jumping through hoops. Joy is not found in perfection. (In fact, their dad shows them that we can LAUGH when we make mistakes...and learn from them rather than be defeated.)
- Clay teaches my boys to be leaders who forge their own trail, not followers staying in someone else's tiny little box. (Boxes are boring...unless you turn them into pirate ships or spacecrafts...or stick your brother inside of them...ahem.)
- He is teaching them how to take risks - ones that require God's help to navigate.
- They are also learning how to get back up when they (quite literally) get knocked down.
- Clay does everything authentically, without pretense...even being a father. My boys see who he REALLY is, not a facade. They hear him acknowledge (and sometimes even apologize) if he realizes that he crossed a line. They see him mature (honestly!) in areas of his life and lead them in brand new ways. Authenticity is one of the character traits that most drew me to this mate of mine. And even if it's a quality I question at times, it's one that I want my children to model.
I could write a whole other blog about the things he is teaching my boys about being a godly husband, but our 15 year anniversary is next month so you can read about that then.
Instead, I hope I made you laugh and pointed you to God at the same time. That is how Clay was made to impact this world - and (in my eyes) he is beautifully living out that purpose.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
(And when you play Legos with them, or when you are jamming on musical instruments, and when you coach their sports teams, or when you are wrestling in the dining room, and when...)