Today is a record for the number of days I've been a father: Seven years. I would be shocked if any parent in the history of parenting would say, "Time has gone by so slow these past few years" at a child's seventh birthday. I see this as a fast-paced sprint through the woods at night... in the fog... where I pause for a brief moment to catch my breath and realize this:
I have no idea where I've been
I have no idea where I am right now
I have no idea where I'm going
Oh well... I'll keep running!
There isn't a clear well-groomed path behind me where I can point some other new father towards. Likewise, there is no path in front of me or a map with a big "you are here" star on a path. Even more troubling, there is no measure or data or metric to indicate where I SHOULD be at this great milestone of parenting seven-year-old twins.
No dad can tell me where to go next and I have no clear answer for other dads who look up to me. This is not frightening or concerning at all though. It is freeing. I realize there are guidelines and boundaries and good and evil, but that's not what I live from each day. it's a constant evaluation of each new day. I compare it to being dealt a new hand of cards every morning without knowing what game is being played. knowing what cards are in my hand is only half the battle. Are we playing poker or old maid or go fish? It's that kind of daily mystery that I find so intensely fun about parenting.
Anyway, This was the first time I held these two bundles of joy in my hands at the same time.
Seven years later they are so tall I can barely pick one of them up with all my strength and both arms. We shared a chocolate Costco butter cream cake after Easton and Layla blew out the candles together.
Neither of them asked for a separate party or cake or attention. One of the measures of their success as a twin is whether they can be themselves as individuals whether they are isolated or together or in a huge crowd. As you can see they have no problem being who they were created to be.
A few months ago we asked what they wanted for their birthday. They chatted for a while and said "a sleep over with Zander and Joya!" They are church friends who's parents are also our friends. We agreed and took it a step further by setting up a family sleep over. All four of them stayed the night at our house so we had a 24 hour birthday celebration. To start with I took the four kids to a golf lesson. The twins were able to bring a friend for free so we made the most of it.
Easton and Zander did an OK job of paying attention to the instructor. Zander is athletic so the two boys had a great time swinging the clubs.
Layla spent part of her lesson conversing with the instructor. I have no idea what they talked about but I enjoy watching her speak to adults with such great confidence and respect.
Their friend's mom and dad are the worship leaders at our church so the happy birthday song was extra special. Not many kids can say they were sung to by the worship leaders. There were only a few presents this year because we didn't have a huge party with tons of kids. The twins were completely fine with this. They each had one gift from their friends and one gift from Nana and Papa to open. The birthday celebration was not hampered one bit by the small number of gifts. Nana and Papa bought them Heely shoes. They have a wheel in each heel, which allows them to skate across the floor. They were super excited to get the gifts and appreciative too.
The kids played in the hot tub then went to bed. The adults had our time in the hot tub and then crashed too. The next morning we had a huge breakfast together and hung out. We enjoyed simple things like riding bikes and playing in the park and throwing a football. Then we did the only event Easton and Layla requested. We went ice skating together! Kendra's back still isn't fully recovered so she and the other mom watched from the cold bleachers. Easton was so proud to teach Zander how to skate. There aren't many things Easton does better than Zander, but this is one of them!
Us two dads skated our way around the rink making sure not to run over any little kids or get taken out by the overly aggressive hockey dudes.
Easton and Layla gladly smashed their face against the window when I suggested we do this for a silly picture.
We all did it and laughed for a whole lap around the rink.
The zamboni took its turn around the rink to smooth it out. We had a group photo opportunity without the glass bouncing the flash back at the camera. I'd say ice skating is the highlight of the birthday weekend because the twins will remember it the most.
After our friends left Layla still wanted to skate more so I went with her. She was showing me some moves and I caught a video of her skating around the center of the ice.
One of the many things I've learned from my own life as well as being a father is this: It is MY responsibility as a dad to pursue relationship with my child. and even more importantly I should be interested in what Easton and Layla are passionate about. I've seen too many fathers who simply live their lives and allow their kid to join them in what the father is doing instead of taking an interest in what the kid likes. That model of "lead by example" without showing interest will only work as long as the parent and child pursue the same passions.
Layla asked if I would help her color her new purse. You bet I would! It's a good sized back that comes with markers. We decorated it exactly as she wanted. I will continue to be interested in what she likes for as long as i live. Getting down on her level to do what she wants is the most valuable way I can spend my time.
Easton asked if I would help him work through a problem he hit in building his new Lego helicopter. You bet I will! We worked backwards through the directions, fixed the misplaced Lego, and finished it up.
I am blessed to have two kids who invite me into their world. They expect me to get on their level and be interested in what they love. That makes me happy. They will relate to God in the same way. One of my favorite verses says, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." This implies relationship. It's not possible to have this kind of mentality without relationship.
How can a child expect to approach their Heavenly father boldly in their time of need if their Earthly father wouldn't give them the time of day?
I am content in knowing Easton and Layla will have no problem asking God for help. This is possibly my greatest accomplishment in seven years of being a father.
Happy Birthday to my Easton and Layla.