“BE. QUIET. Your brother is trying to sleep.”
“I’m gonna count to 3!”
“Roxa… err, Carst… Scarlette – whatever your name is!”
“When mommy and daddy are talking you need to listen.”
“Don’t stand on that.”
“Don’t touch that!”
“Give that back to your brother.”
“Don’t take things from your sister.”
“Do NOT put that in your underwear!”
“What did you just say?”
So seriously – when did it happen? Did you even notice? No one sat me down and offered me lessons or handed me a language guide for parenting. Let’s face it. Some things just roll off the tongue effortlessly when parenting children. All those times I swore as kid never to be like or sound like my parents were pointless. The “mother’s curse”, or rather “father’s curse” is coming true. Not only do I sound like my parents, I am starting to look like my dad – pretty scary stuff. Pray for me.
KIDS SAY THE PARENTEST THINGS
One of the most telling signs of parenting children is hearing your own words from the helium infused voice of your 2 year old parrot toddler. I’ll be honest, I often respond with “choice” words when I hurt myself around the house. You’d think a red-headed hulk lived here when I stub my toe, cut my finger or bend a fingernail backwards.
Just a few days ago I tried to shut the dishwasher door with my foot and rather than succeeding I successfully bent 4 – COUNT ‘EM – 4 of my toenails backwards; one of which ripped about half my toenail off. Uh, yeah! I concocted a recipe of expletives so rich and neat that my 2.5 year old started belly laughing while my face grew red with sweat and the four letter “no-no’s” spewed out with great madness. I lost it. Roxanne, upon hearing all of this, tried to get my attention from another room while I emitted curse-word toxins into the Foster Home.
I eventually calmed down and apologized to my wife for disregarding her attempts to calm me and cool my tongue. I also talked to my daughter about “daddy’s bad choices” and explained that I should not have handled myself that way. She understood and I felt like it was a win. I walked away thinking I had made an impact on her heart and saved the day. It was only a few minutes later when it happened…
I stood in the bathroom brushing my teeth when Scarlette came around the corner. She looked at me with that mischievous “I have an idea” kind of look. She then proceeded to slam both of her palms into the temples of her head while repeatedly saying, “G$D! F@$%! S#$! D@%&! M-F-er!” All the while she is giggling with joy thinking all of this is normal. Wonder where she learned such rage… Let’s pray again.
HERE’S WHAT I AM LEARNING
Never say never – oh and, never say those words around a 2.5 year old. Outside of marriage, parenting is definitely the best, hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is humbling, humiliating, terrifying, exhausting, ridiculous, never-ending, patience-trying, sanctifying, poop-coated and pee-soaked. It’s a trip. I love it!
I never thought I’d say half the parenting phrases I do. I certainly never thought I’d stoop low enough to teach my toddler how to pass the verbal test for the Navy, but hey, there’s that humbling effect I talked about. I am learning that my humanity knows no bounds when it comes to walking through life with a family. I have learned more about how selfish and depraved I am through family life than any other relationship. I think that’s the design.
So the next time your kid says a curse word, throws a temper tantrum or parents you with one of your own phrases remember there is grace for the journey. There has to be or I’d be an out of commission Dad. There’s grace for all the broken “Nevers” in the world – and I’ll be the first to tell you, I am THE Broken Never Man. If I had a phrase it’d go something like: “The Broken Never Man, breaking all the nevers one day at a time…and even some never-evers.”
Let’s reach for grace the next time we blow it as well as offer it to the people we’ve committed to sharing this journey with. We may be “never-people” but we all have access to grace and the best news is it’s never-ending.