Loving our children

By Joe Rector

A person lies down for a good night’s sleep. Just as he’s about to fall into a deep sleep, his dog is disturbed and begins to bark loud enough to wake the dead. The howling lasts for hours, long enough to make a restful night impossible. Even though the man is furious and tired, he’d never think of harming his beloved pup. Yes, that pet owner is me, and the howler is Sadie.

The same thing held true with our children. Both of our offspring were beautiful and sweet. Then we took them home, and it was as if Satan had possessed them. Sleep was an activity that Amy and I vaguely remembered. We begged those little ones to go to sleep so we could pass out; alas, they didn’t speak English at the time. When Lacey slept through the night for the first time, Amy and I woke in a panic and ran to check on her well-being. Eventually, routines were established, and life settled down just a bit.

As the two grew older, they began to participate in organizations. Lacey was a Girl Scout, and we survived the cookie campaigns. She played softball for a couple of years before discovering soccer. Her talents in that sport thrived on the defensive end, and she always talked about how much fun it was to tackle a charging opponent. Dallas played baseball, mostly because I made him do so. I’d seen enough boys who didn’t know how to throw a ball or swing a bat and was determined to make sure my son wasn’t one of them. Dallas played basketball for one year, but he didn’t like the confinement of a gym and the noise of the fans. He also played on a soccer team that went undefeated. He played midfield and did a good job. When the team invited him back the next year, he declined because he didn’t want to get up so early on Saturday mornings.

The teen years were the most perilous. Lacey proved to be as stubborn as her dad. We battled often, and the house shook with raised voices. For the most part, my daughter “tried” to follow the rules of our home. I’ve found out in the last few years that she might have done more than we knew. I tell her now that I don’t want to hear about those escapades. Dallas was the quiet child, and his acts were minor in comparison. He didn’t like school from the first day I took him to kindergarten, and his study habits weren’t stellar; still, he managed to have a good time in school and made acceptable grades.

All of these things probably sound familiar to most adults. Children have a way of trying parents. They are also trying to spread their wings to become independent. I suppose that doing so in the safety of home is better than at a college or an apartment. Our cries of displeasure set the limits for our children and teach them some of the unwritten rules about life.

These young’uns, whether toddlers or teens, can bring plenty of angst through the years. At some point, probably when they have children of their own, our offspring will understand what our goals were and why we acted as we did. These days, nothing brings a smile to my face quicker than to see my grandson pull one of the same tricks that his mother pulled. Karma truly can be woeful, so I try not to laugh too much or remind Lacey that she is getting what she gave.

We love our children, but they can bring out the worst in us as parents. Lucky for us, the positives that children bring far outweigh the negatives that drive us parents nuts. My wife reminds me that we have children when we are young because few of us could survive the job at our present age. Hang in there, parents; things do get better.