Greetings friends and family,
First off, I'd like to share with you a picture of my ridiculously photogenic wife. She stands out in her group of attractive moms like a jewel. I am blessed to have a wife like Kendra who takes care of herself. This is from our trip to Sacramento, but just now saw it posted by her friend.
Back at home we're savoring the last bits of pre-kindergarten life. I would say last bits of summer, but summer lasts well beyond the start of school next week. Easton asked to wear his long Tom and Jerry pajama pants in spite of the hot weather. Layla asked to wear her silky long pajama pants. These are the battles not worth fighting. I continually ask the twins and myself the greatest question, "why not?" Will they be hot and kick the covers off? Yeah, but so what. I want to provide an environment where they can fail and learn while the penalty for failure is low.
The same thing happened yesterday after dinner. The twins were discussing how mean I was for not taking them to the park during the last few weeks. I asked what is the reason why Daddy doesn't take them. They couldn't figure out that 109 degrees is too hot to play in the sand and on the hot playground equipment. Rather than try to convince them of why I'm right I said, "OK, if you want to go to the park, let's go and you'll understand why I haven't taken you."
Off we went through the greenbelt on a short walk to the neighborhood park. Upon arrival their crocs came off and their feet were introduced to hot sand. That didn't feel good so they put the crocs on. Then they climbed on the playground. They discovered the slides are too hot to slide on and the steps are too hot to stand on. THEY discovered. I probably would have been ok with a few minutes of explanation, but having them experience the truth for themselves means much more than my words.
We played tag in the grass for a few minutes and then the heat got to them quickly. they were sweating and red-cheeked and asking for water. I said, "do you understand why Daddy hasn't taken you to the playground lately?" They answered with an emphatic, "Yes!" and back inside we went for a tall glass of ice water.
In all the training and experience I've been through lately I'm seeing the world more clearly. Because they believe I'm a mean guy who keeps them from having fun in the park, then they believe a lie. The best way for them to know the truth should be by hearing my response and choosing to trust me. When that doesn't happen then the next best thing is allowing them to experience a small level of self-inflicted pain (hot sand and playground equipment) so they can know the truth that it is too hot to play outside.
I'd say the summation of my goal is to do a better job of preparing Easton and Layla for the world instead of protecting them from it. If I can get them to learn important lessons early in life then I will more easily trust them later.
In other news, I went camping in Peyson with about 50 men from church. Part of the camping experience was a golf outing for those of us with clubs. Notice I didn't say "for those of us who are good at golf". I've played some bad golf, but this crew of 8 guys was incredibly inadequate. Even so, it was one of the most enjoyable golf outings ever. The course was slow where we had lots of time to converse and joke around. Much of the time was spent searching for errant golf balls, but even in that there is camaraderie. I called this the double stuffed Oreo golf outing because us two white guys are stuck between my dark-skinned brothers. It's nice to be in healthy relations with guys who strengthen and lead each other to be better husbands, fathers, and servants.
I gave Rick a place in my tent and an air mattress as well. He was ill prepared, but luckily I was over prepared. We had some great talks about working through some areas in his life. He had breakthroughs in personal freedom on such a deep level. This outcome of the camping trip would have been enough to make it worth my time.
Most guys brought guns. We drove out to a desolate area and had target practice for over two hours! Here's me firing an AR-15 for the first time.
and the AK-47. Can't believe this gun design is from the 1940's because it was powerful and responsive. Made me want a rifle, but not bad enough to buy one at these inflated prices today. I'm content with my more-than-capable Glock 9mm. Maybe when Layla begins dating I'll borrow a friend's rifle to clean.
The whole camping trip was only 48 hours, but the highlight for me was getting to speak to the entire crew over the campfire. I spoke about what I knew would be most helpful to this group of men and then opened it up for conversation. I was amazed by how honest and real guys can be out in the middle of the woods with only other men around. It was a rare glimpse into the way we should be living life every day, but often get stuck in pride, ego, fear and insecurity and a number of other reasons men choose to avoid transparency. This was not of of those times. What started here was a connection between imperfect men across many social, racial, and age groups. The one thing we all have in common is our belief system and that seems to be enough. I can't wait to see what catches fire from the small flame lit this night.
Here's the only picture we took of the group. Quite a diverse group of guys. The bonding experience of doing something or doing nothing, like sitting quietly by the campfire, together was seriously rewarding.
Back at home while I was camping it up Kendra kept the home fires burning. or cooling, as it were on a summer weekend here in Phoenix. One of the crafts she worked through with them was to paint ceramic magnets for the fridge.
Easton doesn't have a strong passion for art, but because it was a car and motorcycle he happily added some color in order to hang his on the fridge.
Layla is already falling into the convergent thinking trap. She's convinced there is a right way and wrong way to paint and colors must match exactly. She is our "color inside the lines" girl, which is fine. I just want to make sure she knows there are many ways to express her artistic nature, which applies to art, music, dance, and personality.
Kendra set up a play date with Easton's best friend, Elliot. I have no idea how that went or what happened, but it was one of the first things Easton told me about when I arrived home after the campout. We also learned yesterday who Easton and Layla's teachers will be this coming year. Their school has two kindergarten classes and they will not be in the same class. Kendra and I both wanted them to be in the same class after discussing the pros and cons, but apparently that's not the standard procedure for the school. At least Easton has his friend Will in his class...
Also while I was gone Kendra had a real tea party with Layla. They made use of her plastic tea party set and ate some special treats together. Layla makes a terrific Ariel.
On the way home from our meeting with the Young Adults group at church I noticed a lady with her car stalled in the middle of the busy street. Kendra stayed at church so it was just the twins and I. I pulled over to the side of the road and jumped out to push her through the intersection and get her a tow truck. Afterwards we went to eat pizza because I spent our dinner preparation time helping the lady. While at dinner Layla asked why I helped a stranger. Talk about a teachable moment! I went through the whole Good Samaritan story and the golden rule. This is another example of what mean by preparing Easton and Layla for the world instead of protecting them from it. It would have been easy to justify not standing around in the hot sun or the danger of pushing a car across a busy street, but I want them to see my beliefs in action to go along with what I say. Their reward for obeying by staying in the car was piece of chocolate in the form of a pirate coin from the pizza place.
I took captured this gem while we were rough housing. They both get a kick out of wrestling and playing tag and jumping up and down on my stomach. Soon they will be too big for me to keep them from escaping by simply holding onto their feet with one hand.
Next week our world changes because they will begin 16 years of all-day schooling. I'm excited and happy for them, but it's difficult to let go. To know they are going to be in someone else's care for the majority of their week. I've been comforted for the past five years as Kendra stayed at home with them virtually 24x7x365. Now I have to put my trust in a school system with classrooms full of kids who certainly won't be as kind and encouraging as we have been as parents.
Their naivety in thinking other kids are kind, well mannered, giving, loving, and friendly will soon be colored by interactions with kids who aren't like them. We've been responsible for their day to day environment with complete influence, but next week they will need to begin influencing their own environment, for the better. Their transition into kindergarten is turning out to be a much bigger emotional deal than anyone ever told me about. I'm not worried, just mourning the shift of gears for the twins maturing. Greater days are ahead of the twins, I know, but these are the days I wish would never change and last forever.
See you soon!