An Itchy Lesson in Fatherhood

1 Oct

012 I heard a child’s scream from somewhere outside the cabin.  I had been inside our cabin reading a magazine while I was supposed to be watching my children.  Our week at camp had been filled with family activities, and honestly, I was just glad my children were entertaining themselves for once instead of clinging to me.

During the week, the boys had made friends with two other campers, Jonah who turned six, and his little sister Kat who was four.  In some ways they were a perfect match for Josiah (5) and my little Andrew (3), and in other ways, their combination made a recipe for disaster.  All four of the children had been right out the back door, just a little while ago, but now they were no where to be seen.  How long had it been?  I wasn’t sure, maybe four or five articles ago?

I slid open the screen door of our cabin and called out to them.  Losing my children in the woods didn’t sound like a great highlight to our week, so I called out again.  Luckily, this time, I heard a faint response from Josiah.  I called out a third time, and followed the sound of his voice down the path and out into the woods.  I am already wondering why they are out in the woods amidst the mud and the weeds.  Young children don’t seem to understand the concepts of mosquitoes, chiggers, poison ivy, and ticks.  As all four children came into view, I discovered Andrew walking cautiously through the woods, and crying.

Something was wrong.

As he approached, I was shocked to see that he had no shoes on.  With tears falling, Andrew reached for me.  I scooped him up and asked him where his shoes were, but of course he didn’t know.  He kept saying over and over again that the bad guys took them, and led me into countless dead ends looking for them.  After searching for thirty minutes, I gave up after finding only one of the missing shoes.

At that moment, I was frustrated.  Frustrated my restful moments of reading were disturbed.  Frustrated the children were fighting.  Frustrated I now had to buy a new pair of sandals.   I gave both boys a good scolding all the way back into the cabin for various reasons – some deserved, others just given.  Andrew’s tongue-lashing revolved around him removing and losing his shoes, while Josiah was scolded for not taking better care of his little brother.

With all responsibility for this disaster removed from me, I began to feel better.

As we entered the cabin, I was met by my wife, who had just awakened from a much-deserved nap.  “What happened?”  Instead of noticing the missing shoes, she noticed the black ring forming under his left eye.

“Ugh.  I don’t know.”  Inwardly, I wondered how I could have missed it.  Defensively, I launched into a tirade about the boys running off into the woods, fighting, and losing Andrew’s shoes.

“And where were you when this was going on?”  I didn’t answer her question, and she didn’t really expect me to.   How is it that a wife can know the source of the problem by asking a single question?
This probably was a cabin where people would gather to bible study.

Still trying to save $20, I went out the following day to look for the missing sandal.  It was now raining, and finding a size four tan sandal in the woods seemed hopeless.  The mosquitoes were once again buzzing around my head, and I could just feel the chiggers starting to burrow under my skin.  I could also feel the anger from yesterday return.

However with my children inside, all I could do was look at myself. Unfortunately, I didn’t like what I saw when I reviewed the tape.  I saw a dad who failed at watching over his kids, and instead of taking responsibility, blamed everyone else around him.

Often in life, I get frustrated at myself for failing as a father, and then take out my frustration on my children.  I wish I could go back, and replay the scene.  I would delete the part where I played the blame game, and remove where the disappointment in myself, led to anger at Andrew and Josiah.

I got thirteen chiggers from that walk in the woods, but learned an important lesson.  A lesson that I hope to pass on to you – luckily you won’t get the chiggers.

One Response to “An Itchy Lesson in Fatherhood”

  1. vigorbriar October 2, 2013 at 05:43 #

    Good article! Thanks for the reminder!

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