Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fencing with Sailboats, Dancing with Flashlights

When I say it, he thinks I'm joking, but I'm not. I absolutely, unequivocally want my son to stop growing. At least for now. I tell him that often these days in fact, and many times, he'll reply with a sly grin and raised eyebrows. "Hey dad," he'll chide, pointing to his muscles or his feet, "look, I'm groooowing again." As if to say, "What're you going to do about it?"

Usually that's the cue for some "wrestle" time. Only lately he seems to be taking me down. Just last night on the couch, I was minding my own business and watching a little t.v. when suddenly, I was jumped. Only this time, all 64 lbs were perched atop my head in a never ending series of punches, and wild kicks as his arms and legs took turns clamping to my neck. I was pummeled. He was wearing me out. Sixty-four pounds doesn't seem like much until it's completely wrapped around your neck or spinning around floggin' your noggin.

It was like an attack by a Tasmanian Devil, both the vicious, live, rabid one and the whirring, zooming, cartoon one. It seemed like it lasted forever, and he was laughing like a maniac the whole time. Shell-shocked, I was looking to my wife for help. No luck. She just sat there glued to the scene, wide-eyed, biting her lips, trying not to lose it. She was ignoring the parental unwritten rules: when it looks like its hurting, stop it, don't egg him on, and intervene if necessary.

It may have only lasted 3 or 4 minutes but man, it hurt. By the time I pulled him off, my ears were ringing and my whole head was vibrating. Sudden attacks like that used to be menacing and annoying, but as I realize how quickly he's growing, I don't mind. Nowadays, I may lose an ear and I may end up with bruises tomorrow, but I don't mind.

Lately, I find myself watching him when he doesn't know I'm there. And even when he knows I'm there I stare at him. "Dad, stop staring at me, you're making me nervous," he moans.

I can't help but stare. He inspires me. There I said it. My seven year old inspires me. There's no denying it. Let me just state for the record right now, that he's better at many things as a seven year old than I have ever been.

Example? I was never good at running. I was never fast. I tried. I really did, but over the years I gave up. All my friends have been warned, if they see me running, they better stop and help me out, because either someone's after me or I'm on fire. But my son, he's as fast as the locomotives he loves to watch and read about.

Another example? He's mechanical. He can take things apart and put them back together and most of the time, he has the patience for it. I never had that gift and I've never had patience. But he teaches me. I'll confess that I've actually had him put things back together for me too.

I've never known a kid who loves the outdoors more than Corban. He would stay outside digging holes, riding bikes, spraying the water hose, riding a scooter, swimming or learning a new sport every waking minute, if it weren't for homework, church, bathing and sleeping. (He eats on the go regularly).

To say the least, our home is alive with the activity of a seven year old who loves life.

While there are moments in our household that make me want to scream (and sometimes unfortunately I do), most of the time these days, I just want to capture each and every moment with him. I need time to stand still, and so I implore him to stop growing. "You heard me son, obey your dad, no growing tonight you hear?" He laughs. Like the wrestling I wrote about, this is one of our rituals. One of our "things."

Role playing and improvisation are two of our other things. Being goofy and making a fool of myself are definitely within the realm of my comfort zone, so I especially love those moments together with him. We play off each other really well and it could go on for hours. We've played dentist (I was the patient of course). And we've played veterinarian (I was the rabbit, the dog, or the monkey). We've played Nascar (I was the announcer or the judge). And the list goes on. My role playing and improv credentials have become quite extensive.

Recently, we purchased a CD that he's grown to love. He stands on his bed and puts on shows for us. My job? To turn the bedroom lights out and hold the "spot light" (a large utility flashlight), and when the timing is just right, I'm supposed to flash the light all over the walls, the ceiling, and of course the superstar, like we're at a rock concert. Sometimes he even sells tickets to his concerts with light shows. And of course, I'm his biggest fan so I find myself dancing with my flashlight.

Then there's last night. We were watching a sitcom on Nickelodeon, and some teenagers were fencing. As soon as the show ended, I was summoned to the master bedroom where earlier we'd been building objects with Connex. You know, similar to Legos only with discs and long sticks and joints that "connect" so you can build things that actually move.

Several weeks prior we built sailboats together out of Connex, and until now he'd been reluctant to take our special sailboats apart. The time had come however, and after a moment of disassembling, the sailboats fantastically transformed into swords and we began a fencing match throughout our home and around the kitchen table, where mom worked busily on paying the bills or schoolwork, or one of those other mommy things. Her hair barely escaped a good tangling from our swords more than once.

It's times like these I wouldn't trade for anything and I guess as sappy as it may seem, I'm sharing with you today that I'm struggling to come to terms with the idea, that someday it won't be cool to do those things with me anymore and I'll be replaced by new friends, girlfriends, hobbies or school sports. I think one of the scriptures that used to give me pause, now just terrifies me:

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." I Corinthians 13:11

Don't misunderstand me, I know the context of the scripture, but it still scares me and if you'll indulge me, I need to wallow for a moment in the fear of my seven year old losing the magic and wonder and child-like imagination that for a brief moment in time, God has allowed me to share with him.

And so whether it's calling each other silly names, spending hours sticking a glow-in-the-dark solar system to the ceiling, or fencing with sailboats and dancing with flashlights. I'm game.

Live raw...let them know you love them.


Anonymous said...

You and I live parallel lives! 'Live Raw' I love it Bro!!!

Timothy Whiseant said...

Great Blog! I really enjoyed reading it, keep it up! Thanks for commenting on my blog. May God Bless You & Yours!!!
Timothy J. Whiseant

Scott Mayes said...

Hey Chester. Thanks for dropping by my site. I enjoyed reading this blog as I have two boys, ages 12 and 7, and your thoughts hit home with me.

Keep up the good work. Stop by any time.

Joe Lowe said...

Great blog! You have inspired me to give Mr. Brody a mean tickle when he gets home from swimming lessons. Man do they ever grow fast! Thanks friend for reminding me!

Chris Morton said...

Thanks for the comment. Hope you check out the podcast!

Jeff said...

Good post on loving your kids, and also about being open with your feelings.

"Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table." (Psalm 128:3)

Thanks for commenting on my blog site!

Chris Goins said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog... Even more, thanks for a great post with "Fencing with Sailboats, Dancing with Flashlights." Great stuff.

As the Dad of an eight year old, 16 year old and 20 year old, I really know what you mean. Hold on to these moments... They pass really, really fast... They are a gift from God.

Jonathan McRay said...

I appreciate your words of encouragement. Thanks for the prayers. How did you come across the blog?


Prepare To Go said...

Great blog! Thanks for commenting on my blog.

Dan Chapman said...

CW. Great blog site, sounds like we have alot in common. How did you find my blog on Mortgages and Money? I just started it.

Frugal Dougal said...

thank you so much (frugal dougal, tales from a draughty old fen). I could say so much more, but am praying for this man to be returned to the bosom of his family. God bless you.


Steve Parrish said...

CW... thanks for the note at REPlant regarding "Stinky Signs"... I also enjoyed this article. I have a 12 year old son that has hit that growth stage. If he jumps on me, I have to tap out these days!

Gibbs said...

good stuff here and thank you for the comments on my blog. i do appreciate it. God Bless.

Bruce Judisch said...


Thanks so much for your comment on my blog. I couldn't help but chuckle at the assault you described on this last post. My 6-year old grandson has decided his favorite question to ask Gran'pa is, "Does this hurt? Does this hurt?" You get the picture.

Your bio sounds fascinating. I wish you the best in your writing.

Cheers! Bruce

Rob Christianson said...

Hey, saw your comment on my Blog about forgiveness... thanks for posting. I'm having a blast as a dad too. Yesterday I was having to do a lot of yardwork, and my son was getting frustrated on a book report he'd been putting off and putting off... I was at a loss for how to get his past his frustration point, and so was my wife. I finally had the idea to give him a break and refresh his mind - so I put down my yard work and called him out and pitched some balls to him for a bit. It was a good break for both of us, and his attitude totally changed. He eventually got his report done too. So though it was a struggle, I'm glad I thought to just spend some one-on-one time with him.

You're right, that's SO valuable!

talk to ya soon. Tell me more about your kids books!

Anonymous said...

Hi CW,

Found your blog through a friend's. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I can relate with you since our oldest son just turned 7. Children grow up so fast, and while we're enjoying those moments with them it's hard to believe, at times, they've grown up in what seems like such a short amount of time. May God bless you and your family.

greggie said...

thanks for the comment on my blog, inspiring and encouraging blog you have here. glad to know that in another part of the world there are brothers in Christ like yourself. keep on living raw!