Pushing the Right Buttons

Sometimes we parents scratch our heads and wonder how we’ll survive life with our children. Sure, moms gush over newborns, and dads strut with pride over the child. In most cases, life runs with few problems until those gifts from above are riddled with hormones. Then adults wonder how they can ever do the right thing.

I was the same way. Lacey was an independent child from the moment she entered the world. She is my daughter, but because of her mother, Lacey was and is an intelligent child. Mixing an independent streak with intelligence is a sure recipe for upheaval in a family.

At one time, my daughter announced that she’d like to leave home and never come back. She was fourteen at the time, and if I wouldn’t have been arrested for child abuse, I’d have helped pack her bags. Our house was a war zone—Lacey on one side, me on the other, and Amy as the U.N. peace-keeping presence. The battles were often fraught with harsh words and hot tears.

An uneasy truce was called during Lacey’s last summer at home before college. She’d graduated from high school early and worked to make some extra money. We loaded the car the following August and carried her away to Middle Tennessee State University. Her plan was to earn a degree in recording industry management and then move to England to work in the business. After getting all her possessions placed into her dorm room and making idle small talk, we left for home. In the blink of an eye Lacey’s whole world had changed. Her wish had been granted; she was on her own.

The first two weeks of college, Lacey was miserable in her homesickness. She called home and cried, and we did too. Even after all the rough times, the bottom line was that we loved each other and needed each other. We were FAMILY. Nothing could change that. It took only two weeks before my little girl came back to us for good.

Dallas tried to be the perfect child after Lacey left home. He didn’t like the fights we’d had when she was home, and he made a vow that things would be different. Since he’s been in college in Chattanooga, I’ve shaken my head at some of the things he’s done. A change in majors and a setback here or there has thrown him off “my” schedule for his graduation. Dallas is so much like his mother that I don’t get much of what he does and even less of what he thinks. Still, that boy is my son, and no father could ever be as proud as I am. He is loving, giving, and unpretentious. Some girl is going to be lucky to have him as a husband.

Amy and I visited Nashville recently. Our grandson Madden was to be baptized, and Lacey wanted us to be present for the occasion. We spent a wonderful weekend with Lacey, Nick, Madden and Dallas. My son was the first to leave for home. When he did, the party balloon deflated and was replaced with a blue funk. When our time to leave came, the tears flowed from mother and daughter. Observers might have thought Amy was upset about leaving Madden, and that was part of the story. However, her biggest reason for crying was that she didn’t want to leave Lacey. The two have developed a tighter bond over the years, and now they share those special secrets that only mothers can.

The ride was quiet on the way back to Knoxville. I thought about my two children and said a prayer of thanks. They are good people who love and are loved. Some way, some how, Amy and I pushed most of the right buttons. The proof is in the fact that Lacey and Dallas have grown to be the kind of humans that they are. Thank you lord!