Last night I sat on the loveseat in our front room and was buried in children. They actually had a contest to see how many kids could sit in my lap at one time. I think they got up to 6 or 7 before the screams of pain and fighting started. (No, I wasn’t doing the screaming.) Then the contest was over, just before Ayda puked on the carpet, but not before Renee got a few pictures.
I stayed there for a while, after the dust and the crowd cleared, holding Ayda. When she wasn’t crying, I was dozing. Ethan and Ellie were wrestling and having tickling fights all over the room, and Will and Noah were playing chess. They say that playing chess is good for kids. It’s supposed to make them smarter. My boys have been playing for almost a week now and I haven’t really noticed any big improvements.
Eventually, I took off my shoes, so I could get more comfortable, while Renee started to make dinner. They’re new shoes, and they weren’t laced correctly. So, while holding Ayda with one hand, I picked up a shoe and attempted to fix the laces with the other hand. I was making minor progress until the crying started.
Ethan chased Ellie through the room and as Ellie jumped onto the chair to my left, Ethan made a nose-dive into the floor. Ethan had tripped over the second shoe, a solid size 12, sitting there as big as a cow in the road. He was so intently focused on his sister, and laughing so hard that he didn’t even see it. He got an up-close look at the intersection of the carpet and the bottom 2 inches of the giant chair and somehow got only one scratch – a big burn across the bridge of his nose.
I had to postpone my shoe-lacing activities and rest Ayda against the arm of the loveseat, but luckily I was able to come to his rescue without giving up my spot. He came to me and stood there with a red nose, screaming like no tomorrow, with buckets of teardrops falling from those big brown eyes.
As an experienced father, I knew exactly what to do. I went into action. I grabbed his little head between my hands, wiped his tears from both eyes simultaneously with my thumbs, and said . . . “Sorry, buddy.”
That’s it. That’s all I could say. That’s all I had to offer. Sure, I repeated the phrase a few more times, making sure he knew I really meant it – my sympathy was genuine. Sure, I wiped a few more tears, and scrunched my face to show how much I really cared. But all I could offer was, “Sorry, buddy.” That’s pitiful.
I sat there and thought about how powerless I am to really protect, much less heal, my children. God can do more than that, though. Why didn’t he prevent Ethan from tripping over my shoe? Why didn’t the shoe miraculously get tucked in a corner, out of the way, or in my closet where it belongs? Why didn’t Ethan see the giant pile of “leather upper and man-made sole” lying there in plain sight? I don’t know. God could have handled that. He could have actually healed that scrape on the nose, too. All I could do was say, “Wow! That’s a good one, son. Sorry.”
I suppose God could handle a lot that he doesn’t. I wish he would. Maybe he’s just handling it in his own way, but I definitely don’t understand why pain can’t be prevented. I don’t understand why some live and some die, why some struggle for survival and some survive in spite of themselves. I don’t know. God knows.
Whatever I said must have been good enough for this tragedy, though. Within a minute, Ethan was back at it, laughing and chasing Ellie around the room, and I was back to lacing my shoes, bouncing Ayda, and guarding that spot on the loveseat.