The last two mornings I was able to have breakfast at Backwater Cafe' with Kami and Aly. These are the intentional Daddy Dates that keep me from losing track of their little hearts along the way. These are the times when you're sitting across the table from this little person that bears your likeness wondering where the time has gone and what you can do to seize what you have left. These are the times when you look into their eyes and see their particular glory, the shape of their heart, the style of the soul, the way of their life. I mustn't neglect the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25). I'm great with the church part of that verse, I'm not so good at times with the family part of that verse.
It became all the more clear how distinctly different my daughters are from each other. Kami likes sausage patties, Aly likes sausage links. Kami wanted orange juice, Aly wanted Sprite. Kami wanted hash browns, Aly wanted pancakes. Kami wanted to talk about friends, Aly wanted me to quiz her on random words to see if she could spell them. Kami likes to talk about emotions, Aly likes to talk about events. Kami struggles to pay attention, Aly has a mind like a steel trap. Kami didn't want to do any homework, Aly wanted to make up new homework that wasn't even required. Kami is more relaxed, Aly is more rigid. Kami let me hold her hand, Aly made me hold her hand. Kami shook her head at my jokes, Aly giggled at my jokes. Kami listened to the conversations around us, Aly was fixated on just us. Kami likes to talk more, Aly likes to do activities more. Kami was comfortable sitting across from me, Aly wanted to sit next to me. Kami wants to discuss people, Aly wants to discuss problems. Kami initiated conversation about God, Aly tolerated conversation about God. Kami waited for me to say "I love you" when I dropped her off, Aly said "I love you" three times in between the Cafe' and the School. Kami is more independent, Aly is more dependent. Kami is more rebellious, Aly is more compliant. Kami is a pusher, Aly is a pleaser. Kami is messier, Aly is cleaner. Kami loved that the waitress called me Honey, Aly asked me why she called me Honey.
And the distinctions go on and on. You can't see them as distinctly unless you get away from familiar surroundings and pay attention to attributes as they're emerging in real time. "The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates I believe this with my whole heart and then some. The more thorough the examination of one's life, the more potential there is for appreciation that leads to emancipation. That freedom, that robust freedom that we are all after doesn't just happen. It must be voraciously explored and excavated from the deep places. I have a hard time living "tuned in" to my daughters, and my wife for that matter, when I'm just waiting for life to come to me. When life happens to me, I'm the victim. When I happen to life, I'm the victor.
And I happened to my daughters these past two mornings. I examined their every move, their every word, their every voice inflection and nonverbal. I watched them eat. I gazed into their eyes as they shared looking for duplicity. I was trying to get a read on their freedom. I was trying to get a taste of their dreams. I was trying to get a clue on how to love "little women" in every season of their mysterious development. I was trying to let them know that they are safe under my heart. I was asking questions and listening for hesitation. I was gauging the freedom of their laugh in comparison to a couple months ago. I was charting the journey of conversation to see what I was forcing and what they were divulging without my inquiry. I was hoping to get a sense of their comfort level with just me out in the public. Were they embarrassed about anything. If so, what? Were they shielding me from any parts of their heart, where they honest in their answers or were they becoming too edited? Did I sense they felt like they could be honest with me or were they giving little signals that they weren't sure of my response to their disclosure?
This is know: I want to know them. I want to know them by looking at them. I want to hear something in their voice and respond accordingly. I want to see something in their face and intervene. I don't want to lose touch with their hearts. And I don't know any other way of making sure I don't then taking them out to a "greasy spoon" and talking with them, laughing with them, joking with them, listening to them, eating with them and playing with them.
I love them with all my heart. I hope they felt that the last couple of mornings.