On Leadership in Parenting

Mar 30 2013

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I spent most of the week at the Oregon coast for Spring Break. You know, after losing a kid in the forest and dropping another one in the riverThat photo up there? It’s the view from our house this week. Yes. This is one of the reasons living in Oregon, despite the rain, is worth it, man. Miles and miles of this.

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We didn’t spend the whole week together. Greg and his folks took Kids 2 and 3 home after a couple of days. He needed to work, and the kids needed the security and stability of home. Traveling freaks the oldest boy out, and the younger girl likes her own bed. One of the biggest challenges of parenting a thousand children is recognizing their individual needs and accommodating them whenever possible. Kids in big families have lots of opportunities to learn to accommodate others and to be patient and to wait their turns and to do what’s best for The Collective. The Hive. The Group Mind. It’s OK; it’s good for kids to understand community and to practice selflessness and generosity. Except, of course, when they need what they need. And so three left.

Our oldest kid, the teenage girl who’s more capable and independent and confident and mature every day, spent the week in Mexico with our church building houses for people who need them. And when we watch our kids recognize their privileges and resources and choose to give their Spring Break to help build a path out of poverty? Yes. This is one of the reasons parenting, despite the sleeplessness, is worth it, man. Miles and miles of this.

So I stayed at the beach with my two littles for a few days without the internet or computer or Wii or DS or cable or Hulu or Amazon or Netflix. It was good to take a break from screens. Just kidding. We watched 3 movies on DVD and then caught The Croods at the tiny theatre in town. I cried when they learned that following the Light is risky and dangerous and terribly worth it.

And then we walked the beach and found very nice rocks

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and battled the tide, which beat us but not by much, and we ran too fast and contemplated our size, which we decided is both very big and very small.

photo 5 (14)I saw a lot of my boys’ backs, and I thought about this quote:

There go my men, and I must hasten after them for I am their leader.

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I thought, yes. This is parenting. This rush to catch up. This leadership from behind. This battle against the tide which we will certainly lose but only after a very good fight.

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And you? What did you do for Spring Break? Or what will you do?

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