Showing posts with label Aven. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aven. Show all posts

Monday, March 13, 2017

Figuring it out

Look at that enormous Sloat head. 
I'm typing this from the doctor's office. We're here for a checkup on Isaac, making sure he's growing like he should and hoping he won't be covering his face for the next ultrasound. 

I'm about to be brutally honest with you, and I hope you can forgive me for it. 

I don't want four kids. 

Up until this morning, I have been dreading Isaac's arrival, I've been worrying about my money, my time, and the fact that I've got three adopted children who might grow up holding a grudge against our sole biological child. 

Akeeli, Aven, and Drake, if you're reading this, I need you to know I never loved you any less than Isaac. Not for one second. I know you can't help feeling like you might feel, but listen: I love you more than you could ever imagine. I love you so much I'd die for you. 

On the way to Tulsa this today, I had to drop my truck off in Wagoner to get the oil changed. This is in no way a sponsored post, but the guys at Kevin Grover are seriously the best, and one in particular slapped me in the face with some truth this morning. 

He walked over to me, and I spent some time trying to figure out if I was looking at his smile or the sun. That's Neil being Neil though. I've never thought of him as car salesman, he's a friend who happens to be exceptionally skilled at getting me to spend huge sums of money on things with four wheels. 

My son weighs 2.6 pounds today. He's grown tremendously in the last two weeks. 

We're sitting in the lab now, waiting on blood to be drawn. In fact, I'm almost positive Alicia is actually reading what I type as I type it. She's talking about how much Isaac has grown over the past couple of weeks, and saying that he better slow down. I think she's finally realizing that when you have a giant for a husband, his kids might be huge too. I don't know, maybe just my head is giant. 

Back to Neil. He came over and shook my hand. 

"Two things to congratulate you for, Travis. One, you look fantastic, and two, your newest little one!" 

Everyone always does that. If they're familiar with our situation at all, they're so excited for us; for me. I get that, and I'm thankful for the empathy, but up until today, it was a forced smile, forced enthusiasm. So I smiled back at him, and I gave my prototypical response. 

"Aww, thanks! Be excited for her though, I don't want four kids." 

Neil didn't even blink. 

"Oh stop that, Travis. You've created an eternal soul." 

I'm alone now, Alicia has gone back to have her blood drawn, and I'm fighting tears as I type this. It's me and one old lady in the waiting room, and I don't need her wondering why the behemoth four chairs down is blubbering quietly into his cell phone. 

We've created an eternal soul. 

My son is an eternal soul. 

Isaac is an eternal soul. 

Somewhere in my brain a switch flipped. I took a couple of confused steps and finally spit out a response. 

"Thank you, Neil. I've never looked at it like that." 

"I'll leave you guys alone, I know you've got a busy day planned!" 

He bounced away, frustratingly happy, unaware of the chaos he'd just wreaked in my brain. Unaware of his creating a tectonic shift in the pangean plate that is my selfishness. 

You see, that's all it is, selfishness. One thing I've discovered since having children is that I am, by nature, a selfish person. I didn't realize that until after we'd adopted the kids, but it's true. I am a selfish person. I want my time, my money, my stuff, my wife. I, I, I, I. 

I'm not saying all that changed instantly. I know somewhere between now and the next eighteen years, I'm going to be selfish. But I was given a new way to look at things today. I have four eternal souls that I am now responsible for. Five and six if you count mine and my wife's, and that's a whole lot of souls to be in charge of. 

My dad figured it out. I don't know how, but he figured it out. Reading his writings from when I was a kid, I know he was frustrated, unsure of himself as a father, and selfish. But at some point he cracked the code. He figured it out, and he took responsibility for the eternal souls he'd helped create, and he did a damn fine job of it. 

Now I'm back at the doctor's office, waiting for my beautiful wife and my son to come back from getting a shot, which is apparently what you have to do when your husband's blood (A+), has a higher GPA than yours (A-). We'll leave here and go pick up two other sons and a daughter, all of which are mine

Today is a new day. Today I was verbally slapped by a friend who has obviously figured some of it out. 

Thanks, Neil. 

Here she comes. Gotta go. I'm gonna try figure it out. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The one where I finally find something Brian Sloat can't do

"Watch this." 
"What?" 
"Watch Travis here. He's going to learn something. He doesn't know it yet, but he's going to."
"What's he going to learn?" 
"Shut up and listen, this will be good." 

Let's be real for a second. As an adoptive parent, I have a problem. It's a problem that stems from my selfishness and pride, both of which can spiral out of control very quickly in my life.

I don't need your kind words and panegyrical speeches about how awesome we are for adopting kids. I really don't. I still don't think we did an amazing thing, I think we did what any human being on earth would do, we saw some kids who needed a home, and we gave them one.

By the way, I'm getting all the stuff that makes me look like a douchebag out of the way early, so if you want to scroll a bit you can. I'll understand. 

For whatever reason, though I don't want your edification of our character, I do expect our children to be grateful.

See the problem yet? Again, the offer to skip forward still stands.

I feel like my wife and I (who I am absolutely not speaking for here) pulled these kids out of a situation where their lives could have taken a much different turn. Some of the birth family reads this blog regularly (Hi guys!) and I'm not out to skewer them about how the kids' lives would have turned out. For all I know, they might have changed their lives around and raised better children than I could ever dream of.

So the kids should be grateful. No, I don't expect kissing of rings or regular shoe shines from them, but maybe stop the entitled behavior a bit, yeah?

The other day Aven decided he didn't want to live here anymore. Said it was awful. He wished he lived somewhere else.

Guys, seriously, skip ahead. 

So I told him anytime he was ready to leave I'd help him pack. I was pissed. I was offended. I've also never parented an eight-year-old boy before, so cut me a little slack.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. Aven had a real bad day at Drake's birthday party on Sunday. Drake got Legos, and Aven got pissed because he thinks he should have all the Legos in the house, and he threw a fit then gave everyone the silent treatment, and basically took all the attention away from Drake on his big day.

For his behavior, he earned some alone time in his room, along with the promise that when the family left, he'd be getting his rear end lit up.

For an explanation of why I was waiting until family left, see the following tweets:


Well, eventually the party died down and I went into Aven's room with the paddle. I had planned on doing a bit of yelling, a bit of paddling, and ending in a lecture about his choices.

I told him to sit down, and I explained what was about to happen. I told him that he had made some real bad choices today, and that he was now going to pay the consequences for his actions. I told him he had options when he got mad. I explained that one of those options was walking away. I explained that another option was some alone time in his room if he wanted. I made sure to reinforce that these were his choices, and no one could make them for him.

I then told him he was to go apologize to his mom and his brother, and then he was coming back to get his spanking.

He walked back in to the room, and I told him that he could get mad about the punishment, but my dad busted my butt and that's why he was getting his butt busted.

And just like that, words stopped coming out of my mouth, because a very shocking thought crossed my brain.

Aven doesn't need Brian Sloat as a dad. Aven needs Travis Sloat as a dad. 

The revelation floored me, and I'm sure I seemed a sight to Aven as I stood there holding the paddle while being unable to communicate.

I heard a voice in my head. It wasn't Brian Sloat. To tell you the truth, I absolutely know it was the Holy Spirit, giving me a direct order that I wasn't ready to accept.

"Pray with your son." 

Eventually I put the paddle down. I sat down on Aven's bed and I told him to stand in front of me. I looked at the wall for a while, then at the giant Superman on the wall. Then I looked at the dresser, the whole time trying to find words that adequately suited the situation, and that would affirm to my son that I had not gone completely bat-shit crazy.

I finally looked him in the eye.

"Aven, I love you so much."

The tears fell. Through blurry eyes I watched as everything in his countenance changed, his features softened from anger to what could almost be called remorse, and then tears fell from his eyes too.

"Dad, I'm sorry," he said. And then he hugged me.

It was one of those classic father/son hugs you see in the movies. The whole tears staining the shirt, me gripping the back of his head like a man desperately trying to keep a hydroplaning car on the road type hug. If you had been in that room, you'd have cried, trust me. Nicholas Sparks in all his writing glory could not have manufactured a better hug than that one.

And we cried.

Eventually the crying stopped, and I looked at him again.

"Son, if anything ever happened to you, I would never be the same. You are wanted. You are special. I love you so much, and I know it seems like I'm mean to you sometimes. I've never had a son before. I don't always know how to be a good dad."

And then we prayed.

"God, help me have a better attitude, and help me not be jealous, and make better decisions, amen." 

"God, I'm a bad father sometimes. Please help me realize that Aven needs me as a father. Please help me be a better dad. Thank you for showing me what mercy looks like. Thank you for Aven. Amen." 

May 15, 2016 will mark the second time ever that I have prayed with my son. The first was his salvation. I am an absolute idiot for not doing it more. I should be praying with all my kids. I'm going to try and make that happen.

As for Aven, well, there will be more bad decisions. He's eight, after all, soon to be nine. He's got a whole lifetime of bad decisions ahead of him. Just like his dad.

And I'll spank him again. It'll happen. Not for fun, not because it's what my dad did to me, but because I'm biblically bound to do that. I just need to remember that I'm also biblically bound to love my children as my Heavenly Father loves me.

Alicia walked in the house yesterday and said, "I don't know what you said to him yesterday, but he's been amazing today."

I guess sometimes sparing the rod is necessary. I guess ultimately, that's what Christ did on the cross. I deserved a beating, and instead I got told that I was loved, that I was special.

I'm a horrible father. Nothing you can ever say to me will change my mind about that. But I love my kids, and Christ loves me, and that'll work just fine. And in the meantime, I'll be busy reminding myself that although Brian Sloat was a brilliant father, he doesn't need to be the one who parents Aven Sloat.

That's my job. That's what I do.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Upon the burning of a scrub brush

snick. snick.

snick. snick. 

I'd been told to throw the lighter in the trash, not to play with it because fire is bad. It couldn't be all bad though, right? Man had invented fire for a reason, and I was reasonably certain that arson wasn't even a thought at the time. 

Civilized disobedience would have its way, and I sat huddled in my sandbox, every bit as focused as the lonesome caveman sitting inside his prehistoric domicile rubbing two sticks together ferociously as his lady friend got ready to go help some other dude with something he was calling the "wheel." 

Did she have to wear that skirt? The leopard? 

snick. snick.

The lighter wound up being less successful than two sticks. Minuscule promises of flame flew as the spark wheel struck the flint, but either the fluid chambers were empty or the elements had rendered it useless. 

I found the lighter in the yard, and to this day I'm not sure how it got there. Might have been those idiot teenagers my parents were always griping about, smoking and being a bad influence on us "good kids." When I found it, I did the honest thing, I told mom about it, and had been given the above-mentioned instructions to throw it away. 

snick. snick. 

What did all fire need? Being an eight-year-old boy, I wasn't sure, but one thing I knew I needed was kindling. I didn't have to look far. Lying in the sandbox beside me was a scrub brush, bristling with dry fibers perfect for the ultimate starter fire. 

snick. snick. 

Sparks danced, but did not catch.

snick. snick. 

snick. snick. 

snick. snick. 

I grew bored and eventually gave up, Promethean visions no longer dancing in my imagination. Back to an existence without fire. 

...

When my dad walked in with a scrub brush burnt to the composite bristle holder, at first I didn't understand. 

"I found this in the sandbox, Travis. Do you know anything about it?" 

"No sir." 

Then my mother sang like a canary. 

"TRAVIS DID YOU THROW THAT LIGHTER AWAY?!" 

"Yes ma'am." Because I had, eventually, thrown it away. And to be honest I had a hard time believing I had started the fire that claimed the life of this charred scrub brush. 

"DID YOU KEEP PLAYING WITH IT?!?" 

My silence damned me. 

***

Sometimes we forget things. I feel like I forget more things than most people, especially pertaining to my childhood. My childhood wasn't bad enough for me to forget it for any reason, I wasn't abused or molested or burned with cigarettes. 

But every now and again I'll see something that will trigger a memory, much like the story I've just told you. Today that happened. 

Let me introduce you to Exhibit A. 


Some of you may not know what you're looking at, but I did the moment I saw it. It's a cleaning brush that has had bristles burned off it. An inexperienced eye might not be able to see the tiny pigtails that indicate fire has been applied to the bristles, but I can attest, after having a cleaning brush waved around me as accusations and confessions flew, that's what has happened. 

Someone in this house has been playing with fire. 

Someone besides me. 

And I'm not sure why, but when I saw it I laughed. Setting aside the potential danger of it all for a moment, I enjoyed remembering something about my childhood. About the seriousness in my father's voice as he told me how I would one day burn the house down and kill us all if I didn't obey he and my mom. 

I could deliver that same speech to Aven—Aven if one day you read this I know it was you—but I don't think I'm going to. There's no telling when he did it, and honestly, I yell at him enough for things I can prove he did. 

But I think I'm going to replace smoke detector batteries. You know, just to be safe. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Boy Versus The Nightmare.


"Nightmares don't last." - C.S. Lewis

It was a bad day for the boy, behaviorally speaking. His father had to be called at lunch, when he had a minor meltdown in the middle of a restaurant during his mother's "last day on the job" party. He begged and pleaded as his mother picked up the phone, but it was too late.

His father had yelled at him, threatened him, and told him he was in all kinds of trouble. The boy said "Yes sir," a lot and nodded enthusiastically, even though his father couldn't see that. He made up his mind to try harder, and maybe his father would forget about the misbehavior after his long day at work...

Then, in the evening hours, the boy had continued his misbehavior, and had earned himself an early trip to bed. As he tossed and turned, trying to fight sleep because of the injustice of it all, he thought about how fun it would be to live in a world without parents, a world where he could act how he wanted all the time without consequences.

He vaguely remembered a life like that, but it was getting so hard to remember...

...The dream started normally. It was a sunny day, the sky was blue and clear, and he was in the yard doing his favorite thing, playing. The grass was green and crisp, and he could smell the earth underneath it. Trees waved gently in the breeze, dropping the occasional leaf, which he chased. He was full of fun, and most importantly, he was not "in trouble."

He was now with his friends. Not just the friends he had made on his street at his new house, but every friend he'd ever made, in both of his lives. They were all there, laughing, talking to him, telling him how much they loved him. 

Now they were playing a game, and he was winning. He was beating everyone, running faster than he ever had before, scoring more goals, a perfect performance. His friends admired him, cherished him. They pounded him around his shoulders, telling him how awesome he was. Every team wanted him first. Every little girl cheered his name as he dominated the other boys. He even engaged in a little trash talking, and he was not rebuffed by his fellow competitors. On the contrary, each one smiled and lowered their head in respect, giving him the adoration he wanted. 

The thought entered his mind that he'd like his parents to see his performance, because their approval was something he desired. Images flashed through his mind; faces, so many different faces. He ignored it, and searched the periphery of his vision for the people he called mom and dad now. 

He turned his head, and that's when he first noticed something was wrong. He couldn't find his parents anywhere. He swiveled back and forth, searching desperately, finally resorting to asking his friends if they had seen them. His friends were willing to help of course, and asked what his parents looked like. He opened his mouth to tell them, and when he tried to describe what they looked like, he couldn't remember. He tried to recall their faces in his mind, but it wouldn't work. He kept seeing heads with no faces on them. Smooth, hollow orbs, with no distinguishing characteristics, just glossy polished discs of terror.

He didn't want to cry in front of his friends, but the tears started to fall anyway. He tried to explain what was happening, but couldn't get the words out. His friends suddenly turned on him. Each mouth transformed from a helpful smile to a sneer, then the laughter started. 

"He doesn't know who his parents are!" 
"Haha! Why can't you tell us what they look like?"
"He probably doesn't even have parents!"

Then their faces vanished too. 

He screamed. 

His world slowly dissolved around him. He shook his head to clear it, but it didn't improve his vision. He needed a superhero right now. Superman, with his blazing eyes and bright blue suit. Superman would help him. He had seen Superman help so many other people, and he thought for sure the faces of his family and friends disappearing qualified him for some super-support. 

Where is Superman? Iron Man? Spiderman? Where is the hero? 

The voice that answered surprised him. 

The man paused briefly at the side of his son's bed.

He had been getting ready for bed, and the scream had grabbed his attention. He knew the house was devoid of intruders, and was certain a bad dream was tormenting his son.

He watched as the boy tried to shake off the nightmare, his head moving back and forth, murmured words lost in translation as they rolled into his pillow. It appeared as though the boy was asking questions, trying to explain something.

The turbulent head tossing proved to be too much for the man to watch. He wanted to intervene, needed to intervene, and save his son from the terrors of the night. He stooped down with gentle hands to work his heroism.

"Son. Wake up," he said, shaking the boy gently.

More head tossing. More murmurs. Desperation was etched on the boys face, sweat glistening on his skin, eyes quivering with random movements, the hallmark of dreams both good and bad. The man tried again.

"Son. Son."

Where was Superman? Why wasn't he helping? 

In the midst of the dream, the darkest hour, he felt a strong hand on his arm. The darkness lightened, but only a little. Then another hand, and a shaking sensation. He heard the voice again. Why was he talking about the sun? He looked for the sun, rotated his head around until he found it, a dim circle in this persistent darkness. If the voice wanted him to look at the sun, he would try...

Light — harsh, preternatural light — filled his eyes. The sun seemed to be right there. 

The boy looked up blearily. He wiped his eyes.

"Hi dad."

The man laughed.

"Hi son," he said. "It was a nightmare. You're okay."

"Thanks Dad."

"You're welcome, son. Go back to sleep."

"I love you Dad."

"I love you too, son."

His friends slowly swam back into view, each one wanting to know what had happened. There was no teasing, only genuine concern and the unconditional love of fellow playmates.

Warm laughter once again filled the air as he told them everything was okay, a hero had come. 

"My dad fixed it," he told the children. "Mom was there too. I found them." 

His friends surrounded him, hugged him, told him they loved him. Then, in the blink of an eye, he was on the field again, playing hard, and winning. 

Everything was wonderful. He was the best again. 

"When enemies are at your door, I'll carry you away from war, if you need help, if you need help. Your hope dangling by a string, I'll share in your suffering, to make you well, to make you well."  - Phillip Phillips, "Gone, Gone, Gone"

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Missed It.


It started the same way at both of the houses I lived in growing up. My father paid a ridiculous amount of money, which I'm sure we didn't have, to have a cement truck come out and pour the concrete slab. Then he would set to work smoothing the concrete, working it until it was just right, keeping us kids away from it, telling us just to wait, wait, it would be ready in a few days. Then he would set up the goal, and he would always make sure the rim, at it's tallest adjustable height, was exactly ten feet from the slab...

Saturday was a busy day. I woke up sick, my sinus cavities clogged with anger at the fickle Oklahoma weather we've been having.

I had a trainer session at 8 a.m. Bright and early. I blew my nose, I drank my disgusting pre-workout shake, and I headed out.

My schedule for the day included the workout, then driving home to shower and change, then head out the door for a writing assignment that was an hour's drive away from my house, and that started at 11 a.m.

The one thing I simply did not have time for was my son's basketball game at 9 a.m. It just wasn't possible. Even without the workout, it still wouldn't have been possible.

If the weather was nice, I'd usually be outside on that slab, throwing up shot after shot. It was the place I hit my own personal "The Shot," and I loved being out there. Every once in a while after dinner, my dad would walk outside to the slab, look at me, and ask, "What's it going to be tonight?" I'd usually pick a game called "Around the World," where each person shot from nine different places around the "court." Every single time, I would think to myself "This is it. This is the night I beat him." My dad would flip me the ball and say, "You go first..." 

The Missus sent me a text Saturday morning. "Are you going to Aven's game?"

"I really don't have time." 

She didn't make me feel guilty, she understood.

And really, if the truth be known, I didn't feel guilty about it. I was too busy. There was too much going on. Plus, I've been to every single other game he has had this year, and let's keep it perfectly real, Aven is terrible at basketball.

Don't get me wrong, he can shoot, barely, when he's practicing. He's working very hard on his dribbling and he's coming along nicely there...in practice. Yes, he's five. Yes, he is appropriately horrible at the game for his age and experience level.

But at the same time, I knew I wasn't going to miss anything big.

I'd miss the first shot. I'd always miss the first shot. You had to stand under the goal and one arm it up and in, and I did not have the coordination for it yet. Since you got a "chance" shot every time, you could always take two shots on the first and not have to worry about starting over. So I'd try again. I'd usually miss. I'd groan, knowing what was about to happen. My dad would get the ball, and the beating would commence...

I was driving home from the workout, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for going in even though I was clearly on my deathbed. I was thinking about things the day held, and how I was going to divide my split shift for the day into workable segments.

Not a thought in my mind was occupied with Aven's game.

Then the text came in.

"Aven just made his first basket in a game!"

I missed it.

I f*$&#*@g missed it.

He didn't miss. He never missed. He would go the entire way around the "world" and not miss once. Every. Single. Time. I don't know how my dad shot so well. I don't know if he played in school, I don't think he did. I've never heard of him being a hoops legend on the street courts of Coweta, Oklahoma, in his heyday. In fact, I don't even really know why he liked basketball to begin with, but I know he did. After his first circuit, he'd look at me and say, "Alright, now I have to go back around." And somewhere in that trip, he'd miss. 18 years later, I've finally figured out he probably did it on purpose...

I've felt pretty bad about things in my life. There are times I've had where I realize how wrong I was, or how stupid I was, and then I usually have the obligatory pity party, where I steep in self-loathing almost as completely narcissistic as the original act I'm "punishing" myself for.

But Saturday, it was different.

I missed it.

Yeah, Aven will have other "firsts." He'll have his first game where they actually keep score, his first assist, his first high school game, his first start, and maybe more. There will be a lot more firsts.

But this one was more important to me than anything else.

And I missed it. Why?

"I really don't have time." 

I'd get my second chance, and I'd get going. After the first shot, the next two were easy. Then the corner shot loomed. This was the shot that would make or break me. I just had to complete one circuit, and this was the keystone on which success or failure was built. Most of the time, I'd miss. Then I'd usually take my chance, and I'd usually miss again. My dad would laugh and say something like, "You won't beat your old man today, son." Then he'd rip off five or six straight shots to win the game. After, he'd flip the ball back to me. "Let's go again." He gave me another chance... 

Aven walked in the door right as I was about to walk out of it for my assignment. To tell you the truth, I had been praying I wouldn't see him before I left. But he walked in. He looked at me, all ready to go, and all thoughts about his shot left his mind.

"Dad are you leaving already? I never get to see you!"

I turned around, bit my lip, and forced myself to smile. I turned around, and The Missus, thinking quickly, said, "Don't you have something to tell him?"

"DAD I MADE MY FIRST BASKET!"

I hugged him, fast, before he could see the tears. I said, "I know son, and I'm so proud of you." I turned, walked out the door, into my busy life.

Yesterday at church, Aven met his assistant coach on the walk to door. The coach walked up to him, high-fived him, and said, "Aven! The scoring machine!" He and Aven laughed, and the coach said, "And you had everybo...your mom and your sister there to see it!"

I have no doubt his intentions were pure and it was a simple slip of the tongue. No doubt whatsoever.

But I wanted to tear him apart.

Then, that afternoon, my family gathered at my mom's house for dinner and the reading of my youngest brother's letter, which will be another blog this week. As we walked in the door, the talk of the room was Aven's first basket. Everyone congratulated him, high-fived him, and my brothers were joking with him and in general just making me feel a little more sorry for myself.

I missed it.

I missed it. I always missed the first shot. Then history would repeat itself, and we'd walk to the house, me as the loser, him as the winner, the universe in perfect harmony. He'd always slap me on the back and tell me to keep working. "One day you'll beat me." Oh that the "one day" would come! Even though now I would trade a lifetime of losing to my dad to get him back, then all I wanted to do was win. All I wanted was to be a good...

Dad. That's all I want to be. A good dad. Not great, not spectacular, not anything special. Just good. I want Aven and Akeeli and any other children that might come along to say, "My dad was a good father, and a good man."

So I kept working. I don't remember the day I beat him, but I know I did. I'll never know if he let it happen or not, but I don't think my dad was that kind of person. My hard work paid off. I kept trying, and I made mistakes, and I kept getting chances, and that's exactly how real life works too. I'll keep getting chances at this "dad" thing. I'm sure this won't be my last big screw up, because it's certainly not my first. This one just hurt more.

Time.

Whenever I think of the word, my mind flashes back to the movie Man on Fire with Denzel Washington.

"I wish. You had. More time."

After a discussion in my Sunday School class yesterday, I've discovered I'm not the only person who struggles with managing their time. We're all busy with work, school, church, family, friends, hobbies, and a billion other things that cause us to lose focus and never complete any one thing with care.

I'll learn. I'll figure it out.

My job at the moment is not something which cannot be manipulated. If I have an assignment, I have to take it, because it's work, and I have to contribute to this family somehow. Could I have chanced being a little late and maybe caught Aven's first basket? I don't think I could have. Does that change the way I feel about missing it? No it doesn't. Not one bit. I feel terrible.

But I get to keep working with at the game. I get to teach him little things I know, and encourage him to try harder.

Aven doesn't watch the ball when he plays. He watches us. He's always looking at the sideline, disregarding all the basic principles of the game, eschewing them for us. For our approval.

And my life's goal is to always be there, looking back at him, waving my hands like crazy, telling him for the love of God just get back on defense, stop looking at us, pay attention to your coach, GO!

As much as I hate time, it provides us with the one thing we all so desperately need.

Second chances.


Monday, September 24, 2012

To Aven.

As I've mentioned previously, one day our children will find this blog. Someone will tell them about it, they'll meander their way around the Internet, and voila, they'll have more information about their dad than they'll ever want.

Another aspect of that would be the fact that one day our children will have a Facebook account. And when they do, they'll want to look back at the story of their lives I've told with pictures and with status updates. Kids being kids, I'm sure they'll want to count how many times each have been mentioned or shown, and that's when our son will realize something...

Akeeli is a Facebook "Like" machine.

I've often joked that if I want to improve my Klout score, all I have to do is post something to do with our darling daughter, and the response is overwhelming...not to mention the impact on the above mentioned Klout score.

And so this blog goes out to you, son. One day you'll see it, and hopefully this will make up for all the Internet attention your sister got.

This is the adoption finalization. Crying, crying, smiling, and then Aven, the double thumbs up.


***

This all started on Saturday. 

I've been really busy with work and school, and what little time I've been able to spend with y'all has not been as precious to me as it should be. You changed that this weekend. 

I woke up early and headed out to cover a story for the paper. I didn't have time for breakfast, and rushed through the interviews and the article because I had an appointment at the Apple store for my computer battery. 

I didn't have time for lunch before we went, so as we walked into the store, I started feeling the first effects of having taken diabetes medication without food. I got a little cranky. You rushed up to me and asked if you could go play on the iPads in the kid's section. I said okay, and your sister went too. 

After a couple of minutes, I noticed a little girl standing beside your sister watching. I asked her to get up and share with you so the kid could have a turn. When she sat down next to you, she immediately started trying to touch the screen of "your" iPad, and you shoved her arm away a little too roughly. I told you that you were done, and you had to come over to the wall and put your nose in a corner. 

I know you don't remember this specific incident, but I'm sure you'll remember the discipline you've gone through growing up, and I'm sure, depending on how old you are, you think it's so terrible. You want to know a secret? I think it's terrible too. You and I share many qualities, remarkably so, given your lack of my genes, but the one thing we don't share is an ornery childhood. I was mostly calm and introverted, and you are the complete opposite. I grew out of my esoteric behavior. I truly hope you never grow out of your outgoing and carefree nature. 

We headed to CiCi's Pizza, and as we were getting out of the car you did something that upset me. Right now, less than 48 hours later, I can't even recall what it was. This tells me that it wasn't really "me" that was upset, it was "Hungry Dad," who is a monster. I'm still learning how to be a dad, son. I don't know it all, and I'm sorry for that. 

So I snapped at you. 

You replied with a "Yes sir," and we started walking to the restaurant. 

Without even thinking, you reached up and grabbed my hand. I know you had no idea what that could do to me, and I don't know that I can explain it. 

You weren't even mad that I had just gotten on to you. You knew that I wasn't going to let anything happen to you crossing the parking lot, and you just trusted me - and loved me - enough to get you into the restaurant. 

We ate, and I felt better. In fact, I felt so much better that I gave you and your sister each a dollar to go play games with. You went straight to a claw machine that promised you could "play till you won." You played twice, looked up at me, and said, "Dad, can you win me something?" 

Then you ran off. 

Son it took me 15 more tries to win you that candy. Your mom laughed at me. But I wouldn't quit. 

When we left the restaurant, we had to take your mom to Hobby Lobby. We were walking in, and you did something I thought was hilarious. You parked yourself under a tree that was half as tall as me, and sat there in the "shade." 

There's no shade except me. 
As we resumed our trip inside, you looked up at me and said, "Dad, your favorite superhero is Superman, right?"

I said, "Yes." 

You just nodded your head like you knew all along, and then we went on in. While we were in the store, you pointed at something and said, "Dad, it's your favorite color flower!" 

I looked where you were pointing, and I saw a gigantic orange flower on display. 

I've been saying for a year now that you don't listen. Apparently I have been terribly, terribly wrong. 

I smiled and said, "Yes it is," and we went out to "cool off the car" while your mom and sister checked out. 

Later that evening you wanted to go with me to a basketball game. You have no idea how badly I wanted to take you, but since I was the referee, I couldn't keep an eye on you...and since you wouldn't sit still for longer than 30 seconds, that's kind of important. So, you didn't get to go. 

When I got home later that night, I was standing in the kitchen and you walked in. 

"Dad, I got your favorite color juice tonight!" you exclaimed as you held up a bottle that once held an orange sugary beverage that was not at all similar to juice. 

You know my favorite superhero is Superman. 

You know my favorite color. 

You even know my favorite basketball team. 

You made this for me at school.
I think you like Spiderman a little better than Superman, and I think you're partial to pink instead of orange.

And let me tell you a little secret. 

I LOVED the color pink until about the sixth grade. 

God, in His infinite wisdom and screwy sense of humor, put you and I together for a reason. Then, knowing we'd need women in our lives to keep us from killing each other, He went ahead and gave us your mom and sister too. 

One day I'm going to figure this "dad" thing out. 

I've got you eating like me already...

Your first corn eating contest. I'm absolutely certain you won, but they gave first to some little girl. 
It's not always sunshine and pleasant thoughts. You are stubborn, prone to violent outbursts towards your schoolmates, a bit of a liar (albeit a terrible one), and did I mention that you're stubborn?

However, every phone call we get, every bad report from a Sunday School teacher, and every talk from anyone telling us you're in trouble all ends the same way. 

"He has a heart of gold. He is so thoughtful and sweet...when he wants to be." 

We still have work to do. About a year ago, after one of your fits, your mother and I looked at each other and cried, each wondering if we could ever straighten you out. I looked at her and said, "If God didn't want this to happen, it wouldn't have happened. It's going to be okay."

Guess what. It's all okay. In fact, after this weekend, it's better than okay. It's amazing.  

In honor of this post, I changed my Facebook profile picture to the one below. This is one of the happiest moments of our time together for me. We told everyone that you caught this fish. In reality, your mom set the hook and reeled it in while you ran to tell me about the fish you were "catching." 

She gave you all the credit. That's how your mom is. That's why we love her. 

You were ecstatic. You ran. You yelled. I barely got you to stand still for the picture. 

That's how you are. 

That's why we love you. 

Your biggest fish to date. 

P.S. If you count the "likes" you got for this picture the first time I posted it, AND the "likes" it's gotten since I made it my profile picture, the total comes in at a whopping 90. That's not bad...

...but it's not even half the "likes" your sister got on the picture of me baptizing her. 

But don't worry. It's not like it's a contest. 

P.P.S. If your sister is still getting "Internet attention" when you read this, let me know. I'll shut whatever she has down and give you $100. That's a promise.