Monday, March 16, 2015

Fatherhood: A Catholic Convert's First Report From the Trenches

King Arthur

My wife and I intend to raise a Catholic family. But I'm a convert from agnosticism so I have no experience with it. My wife has half-experience. She was raised an evangelical Christian but not a Catholic.

We were married when I was forty-six. My wife is younger. Within five years, we've had four kids--two sets of fraternal twins (a girl and boy, now 3 1/2, and two boys, now 10 months). 

When my wife and I became Catholics, God said, okay, you want that? Zap, Zap!

That's fine with me.

At my Traditionalist church, if you have less than eight kids, you have to apologize for it. Many families have vans like those the clowns used to use at the circus.

We fully intend to have more children, though a minor breather may be in order.

But I have no experience in this. How to teach my children about the Faith? What should they do and when?

As to the caption, my daughter likes dueling with me. We both use brooms. First I plant the broom in the couch and she pulls it out. Then I knight her. Her name is Lydia. But she doesn't want to be Queen Lydia. She wants to be knighted King Arthur. Then she stabs me with a broom. Believe me, I don't have to pretend. She honestly is quicker than me. The Black Knight has died nine times.

Here are three theological snippets:

1. My son, Oliver loves to say Grace. He punches out the words like they're the introduction to a superhero cartoon:


While wheeling his fist wildly about his chest.

Is that a good thing?

2. I was singing "They Hung Him On A Cross" (the Nirvana version). Lydia told me to stop. Why? "It's too sad a song, Daddy." (I think she caught me crying to it once.) Why is that, I asked?

"It's about Jesus dying and Jesus not dying. But it's very sad."

I can't deny that, since she saw me cry.

Is that the right message?

3. My father used to play a trick on me. He would stick his nose close to his bowl of ice cream and say it smelled funny. I would stick my nose close to my bowl of ice cream. He would then dunk my head into my bowl of ice cream. I fell for it every time.

So of course I played the same trick on my 3 1/2 year old daughter, with a thick slice of cake. It worked the first time, but her head emerged with a thin coating of cake and a hard and serious look of...I don't know...betrayal on her face.

I've tried it a few times since and it hasn't worked. She simply stares at me with...defiance. And my wife tisks because I am such a joker or whatever. This Friday, after unsuccessfully trying the cake thing one more time, my daughter stared at me with defiance and I stared back with defiance. We stared at each other with mutual defiance for what seemed liked two hours. Finally, without breaking the stare, she said:

"Daddy, God doesn't understand you."

My wife burst out laughing.

Is that a good thing?

Suggestions from other parents are always appreciated.

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