It was an ill omen. Dawn’s early light was still at least an hour away. Since the two youngest girls had interrupted my sleep twice apiece, the buzzing of my alarm clock seemed a gross injustice. But we must face these things courageously. So I sat up, muttered a Morning Offering and took my stand, planting my foot firmly onto a Lego toy.
Now, for those of you who are uninitiated, Legos are plastic building blocks designed by top engineers in Sweden for one purpose only: to inflict pain upon parents who inadvertently step on them. They’re just small enough to be invisible to a man who can’t find his glasses, just hard and sharp enough to damage a nerve without puncturing paternal skin.
In my childhood low-tech metal jacks served the same purpose. Then some bright mom with a degree in polymer science advanced the cause of humanity by inventing bendable rubber jacks. But ever since our first parents decided to taste the forbidden fruit, the universe must obey an inexorable Law of the Conservation of Parental Pain. And so the cosmos demanded Legos for me to step on.
As I said, it all seemed an ill omen: the insufficient sleep, the annoying alarm, the Lego pain. Surely it would be a wicked day. I contemplated that thought as I trudged downstairs to put coffee on, and I developed it even more fully as the coffee brewed. Whereupon I trudged back upstairs to wake my wife to her own share in the inevitable misery.
But I stepped back into the dim room to see two tiny eyes looking back at me from the bed. Grace Marie, who was then fourteen months old, was just waking up, her face still expressionless as she processed what she saw.
Can toddlers sense a day that began with Lego pain? How perceptive could she be? Maybe more perceptive than a grumpy grown-up. “Daddy!” she shouted suddenly, with the biggest smile you can imagine.
And my foot felt fine. What a gorgeous day it would be! The sun was beginning to peek in through the bedroom blinds. In my proudest moments I believe in the greatness that Gracie’s smile seems to acknowledge. I believe that my glorious and awesome presence can make all the difference in a baby’s day or anyone else’s, should they possess such precocious powers of perception as Gracie has.
But in my most honest moments, I know that my fatherhood is just a dim reflection of the only true fatherhood, which belongs to God. Gracie’s smile teaches me the joy and confidence I should feel as a true child of God my Father, who is King of the universe I live in and who loves me with a lasting and merciful love—even though the things I leave lying around are sometimes much nastier than Legos.
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From Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life, by Mike Aquilina (Servant Books, 2007).
Father's Day Feature
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