Before we dive in
- SAHD = Stay at home Dad
- I have 1 two-year-old. That means I am not the parenting guru. I have thought a lot about parenting, and I hope the weaving analogy below helps you too. If you hate it let me in the comments. If it really helps you let me know in the comments.
- There is an email sign-up down at the bottom. If you want updates on me, my book, blog, and teaching/speaking, that is the place to get it.
The 2 Threads I Weave With
There are important moments in every child’s life. These one-off moments define our children, but they come out of the foundation of the day in and day out moments. Watching my son grow for the last two years, I can begin to see the tapestry of those moments coming together. Out of that tapestry, I have identified two of the most important threads to weave with. They are both the brightest and dullest of colors.
The Bright Thread
The brightest of colors is that red that mixes with yellow to a blinding brilliance which overshadows the other strands. This is the strand we focus on most. It is the obvious strand, the strand of discipline. This is the strand that cries for attention, and it is the strand that receives it. Discipline is most often viewed as behavior modification, but it is much more.
Discipline provides boundaries for life to flourish. Similarly, that thread finds its way into the borders of my son’s tapestry. I use the thread of discipline to weave his tapestry strong. Strength and discipline will hold him together when life cuts at his tapestry. A strong discipline is difficult to cut. It can be relied upon to hold the weave together. Maintaining those bright colors around the edge is difficult. They must constantly be fussed over, worked and reworked until the border stands firm.
I do this with my son in time-out all the time. Time-out is when I get to dive into my son’s world. He needs me most when I am disciplining him. He cries for the focus to be on him because he desires the borders. Those borders provide the context. I have to fuss over him because it communicates that I love him and I care for him. By fussing over his emotions, I reweave his actions providing the complementary colors, thoughts, and context.
When the bright fibers focus themselves around the edge it brings out the more intricate and dense colors found in the center. If the tapestry is all bright then it ultimately loses its luster. Kevin Jennings said it this way, “boundaries drive creativity.”
The Dull Thread
The thread is dull brown to the point it is almost green. An almost indistinguishable thread, but still the most important and the most forgotten. The dull thread rarely cries for attention. It simply just wants to be a part of the tapestry. That thread is joy. It is that moment when you are asked, “play with me, daddy?” That moment when he giggles, “let’s build together!”
And you say yes!
Joy is a thread you must coax out continually. You have to bring out that child-like wonderment. You have to enliven that tiniest and most fragile of things, a child-likeness instead of a childishness. It gives us something to reference when the times get hard and the pressure increases so much that we can barely withstand. That child-like reverence and peace is something that we can have but it cannot be grasped. It cannot be held on to like the fog cannot be held onto. Ever present in our own tapestries, rarely disorienting and dense but most often unnoticeable and chased off by the knowledge and experience the sun brings.
My son moves constantly. Friends that have known him for a while now are still surprised by the amount of constant motion. He is always on to the next thing. Sometimes, we build a castle out of cushions, a fort out of blankets or tent out of sheets. We build and play a lot. The weird thing is that the more I play, the easier the discipline gets. The more we play the better we are at playing. Joy begets the behavior modification that I am looking for in discipline. The joy balances the discipline just as the discipline sets up the joy. The boundaries provide creative context, and creative context flourishes inside them. The things he thinks and dreams are spectacular. The imagination gallops at a rampant pace that only his body can keep up with. It is fascinating to watch him weave joy into his own life. That all starts with me though.
Weaving a Child
These are the areas in which my son needs me most in his life right now. They are the ends of his existence, joy and discipline. When he needs a timeout, what he is saying is “I need you now.” When he asks to play with that unmistakable grin, what he is saying is “I need you now.” It is a balance that I get to view, observe, forge, coax and thrive in. I have to thrive in it. If I don’t, I am holding him back. My son needs me at the extremes, so he knows what his center is.
He is asking me the question, “who am I.” It is my greatest privilege and honor to teach him about himself, to guide him along in a journey that is fraught with peril and a mountain of joy. This is what it is to parent my two-year-old. Hopefully, I will always see parenting with that same amount of honor and respect my children deserve.