If you’ve ever had people put their hands on your head and shoulders and pray over you, then you know what it is like, sometimes, to read the words some of you write to me.

Caleb has been reading a great many history books. Last night he asked if I have ever been beaten with a whip. Not thinking, I told him I have been beaten with a belt, but not a whip. He was suddenly sad and quiet. “Really?” It was a wounded voice. I got down close to him, so that I could feel his breath on my face. “I will never do that to you,” I whispered. “I know,” he said.

Sometimes as a parent you feel like a wall. One side of you is hard chipped stone. The side facing these little ones is smoothed, its cracks spackled as best you can manage. Sometimes your child will run a finger along one of those cracks, and when he does this you know you can go on standing, no matter the weight, until he is strong and ready to beat back the world with his own muscle and bone and faith.

The outside of the wall that you are is always cold, but the inside, this is where there is warmth, because of them. Last night I supervised Eli as he practiced “Frère Jacques” on the violin. We don’t have the words, only the music, and so when he asked me to sing it I had to improvise, because neither my childhood nor seven years of French seem to have taken in any wholesome way:

Frère Jacques
Frère Jacques
Some French words I don’t know
Some French words I don’t know
How ’bout you?
How ’bout you?

Eli giggled. I like when he giggles, because he is my wistful child.

Isaac is rarely wistful, but he knows that he has exasperated me with the constant waking. It seems I’m not the only one in the house who can’t sleep. Last night, instead of coming to my bed, he went into my bathroom and shut the door. I opened the door to find him curled up on the floor. I picked him up and he settled his cheek on my shoulder. I carried him through the dark house, praying that he won’t have nightmares, that he comes to me because he misses me, and not because he is haunted by something on the other side of sleep.

I placed him on his bed and tucked the sheet around him. He looked up at me, his fuzzy lamb held tight to his chest, and he smiled. It was a peace-filled smile. I kissed him, and he closed his eyes, and he was asleep before I left his room. His sleep, like that smile, was peace-filled.


  1. mdmhvonpa

    At the point where your children learn that you are indeed a human, the relationship changes a bit.

    At times, I believe that God gave us children so we could see how he loves us absolutely though them.

  2. PJ

    Do you think, though, that the children sometimes have the unexpected effect of rubbing off some of those harsh edges that are on our side of the wall?

    I feel like that sometimes-like, as I work to keep the side they see smooth and clean, they’re secretly working on the other side, making it just a little more bearable…

  3. Steve Bogner

    Those are times to celebrate – when we break the cycle, when we choose to take a better direction with our kids. And when we do that with our kids, we’ll do it with our spouses, and our friends and everyone around us (in my opinion). The multiplying effect is pretty awesome, once we make those conscious decisions…

  4. Kevin Morrison

    Cute: sadly, they won’t stay like this for long, so enjoy it to the max! I think it’s ‘sonnez les matines, ding, dong, ding’ (they’re ringing the bells for matins) making three syllables out of matines. Maybe you could accompany him on the cello?

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