I Cannot See Anything
I Cannot See Anything by Brad Eck, Chadds Ford, PA
Proverbs 16:2 - “Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good.”
“Daddy, there’s a lot of smoke in my room and I can’t see anything.” I scrambled upstairs and opened his door to find a complete fog – I literally could not see my hand in front of my face because it was so thick. There was no heat, however, so I was able to safely, but blindly, walk through to the window and opened it.
After the smoke dissipated, I was able to determine the source: a toy on the carpet and a handheld gas lighter that he was using to light said toy on fire. Fortunately, the only success he had was in lighting the flame-retardant carpet which just smoked considerably.
Needless to say, we had to replace the carpet. And add smoke detectors ASAP as this could have been so much worse. And another item identified to go into a secure place was the small gas lighter.
Every room in every house should have a functional smoke detector. I know that I am responsible for that – even in a rental. Do not depend on your previous owners or even your landlord. Do at least a basic assessment of your home and secure it appropriately. You, fathers, are responsible for the safety of your family. You and you alone.
My role as a father
It is my responsibility, as the father, to prepare my child to be a positive force in our world. It is my responsibility to teach them a strong work ethic, a solid set of values, a moral baseline, and principles which will turn him into a productive member of society. My role, like his father, is exactly that – to lead my child into whom he needs to be as a man or woman. And that, irrespective of his “special needs.” The Bible is clear that I will be held accountable for this, not my wife. And while she absolutely plays an incredibly important role in all the above, I am ultimately held responsible to lead.
From the moment of Daniel’s diagnosis, we knew this task just got infinitely more difficult. But it was my task nonetheless, and one that I would not relinquish. We worked hard, incredibly hard, and at great expense, over his childhood to get him the support that he needed. We turned over rocks, looked behind proverbial walls, and dug up options that would help him get through the struggles he had. And we prayed often and hard (but never often enough or hard enough, I suppose).
In time, despite the doubts of many, the efforts prevailed.
Fathers, stepfathers, male guardians, etc.: I call you out today. And I call you up. The responsibility to lead your children (special needs or not) is yours and yours alone.
Be the man you need to be for your child. Train them. Grow them. It does not mean you do all the work (e.g., a delegation of education to the school system is appropriate.) But YOU are responsible. You and you alone.
For those of you who do not have a father in the home, I encourage getting a father figure to stand in the gap. Children need male role models – real men (not just males) that know what leadership means and can mentor that into the child’s life. Similarly, there are fundamental characteristics that a child needs that can better be passed down from their mother – or a positive female role model. Both are necessary. If you are in a situation where only one parent is in play, please make sure to provide appropriate influences so your children can learn and understand the positive influences of both honorable femininity and masculinity.
And, as I mentioned for ourselves, it is always beneficial to have mentor relationships in our lives - as adults, and as children. You should initiate that into their lives so that it becomes second nature.
“Daddy, I filled your tank up for you on the truck!” he yelled in pride!
“Um,” as I looked outside in horror to see the garden hose in the truck’s gas tank.
On another trip to the shop and some hundreds later, we were back to normal. Ugh.
Mischievous vs. devious
Some kids are just mischievous. And some are not. We tend to measure the “goodness” of our children based on this. But the reality is some naturally push the borders and boundaries where others are content living well within them.
Start by giving your kids a baseline of values and principles. This usually starts at a young age and might even be reactive initially but the sooner you can get in front of situations, the better. And when you define the boundary, if possible, back it out to a value or principle that can be applied irrespective of circumstance. An example would be the truth. There is no circumstance where lying is okay. It might seem to have a short-term benefit, but the long-term impact will always outweigh it. Truth is a deep character value – and lying is a deep character flaw.
Then, realize that consistency in the application is vital. Walk the talk: If your kids see you violating the rules you established, they will ignore them. If one kid sees you being more lenient toward her brother, she will see it and question it.
And finally, judge (and discipline) based on their actions, but be considerate of their intentions. As expensive as it was, his heart was in the right place when filling my gas tank with water. The discipline for his actions still needed to occur, but not to the extent of burning his toys where the action was both dangerous and with ill intent.