The Sounds of Parenting

My house is loud.  Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes that’s a bad thing.  But no matter what, almost every noise that I hear is saying something about the future.

Last night I heard the sounds of laughter coming from the other room where my wife and two sons were playing.  Those sounds told me that no matter where my sons go in life they will be able to look back on some really good times of playing games in the floor with their mom.

Before that, there was the sound of screaming.  Good screaming.  I was the Joker and my boys were Batman and the Green Lantern.  Whichever one is the Green Lantern is the one that didn’t make it to the Batman mask in time.  No one wants to be the Green Lantern.  No one.  Anyway, the Joker was causing all kinds of trouble for these two.  Those screams gave me hope that my boys will grow into men that can tackle tough obstacles with confidence because they know that they are loved by their father.

But, like I said, it’s not always good.

Sometimes there’s the sound of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Like when one of my boys gets beat at Candyland or the other one finds out that he can’t have a piece of cake for breakfast.  Eventually, if my wife and I do our job right, our boys will stop crying about things like that.  But there will always be heartache for them on this earth.  Maybe because things don’t work out with a girl.  Maybe because they don’t make a team or get accepted to a school.

And there’s the never-ending sound of my sons calling out for dad and mom.  Those cries often come at bad times.  Like when one of us is on the phone.  And it’s hard to stop that conversation, or whatever else it is that I’m doing, just to hear a long story about how Batman threw the Joker out of the Bat Cave.

If I’m honest with myself, I don’t always want to hear those stories.  It’s easy to be a good dad when I feel like playing but fatherhood can be very difficult when I’ve got other things to do.

But the calls for dad and mom remind me of a time that older parents tell me is coming all too quickly.  A time when my kids are almost grown.  A time when they will need to talk to someone.  A time when my wife and I will want to be that someone.

And if we want to be that someone when our sons are 17, we have to be that someone when they are 6.

I once heard a pastor complain about the number of parents who come into his office, with tears in their eyes, wondering why they can’t connect with their teenagers.  In almost every case he said that the parents had almost nothing to do with their kids when they were young.  Now that they were almost grown, they thought it would be a good time to start engaging them.  They were too late.  They had tuned out the sounds of parenting.  And now their kids had tuned them out.

The sounds of parenting aren’t always good.  But they are always important.  And it’s important for parents to respond to those sounds with wisdom.  Even when we don’t feel like it.

Because, if we don’t, the sounds of parenting will one day be replaced by the sounds of silence.