Happy Birthday To The Boy Who Wouldn’t Breathe

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My firstborn child turned 8 today. For a while there, I didn’t think that he’d make it this far.

It took a while for fatherhood to set in with me. It didn’t happen in those months leading up to my son’s birth when my wife and I watched videos of some woman teaching us how to breathe. It didn’t happen on the afternoon I spent putting together baby furniture with John Mayer providing my soundtrack.

It didn’t even happen the day before my son was born. A self-proclaimed expert told my wife that she was several weeks from going into labor. She said that she could tell by the way that the baby was laying. She said that she’s never wrong on those things. My wife went into labor a few hours later.

Fatherhood still never set in.

It didn’t set in while I was speeding to the hospital with my wife and sister-in-law along for the ride. One was telling me to slow down. One was telling me to speed up. I’ll let you guess which one wanted me to go faster.

I figured that the feeling of fatherhood would come once my son was born. When I finally heard him cry, that would probably do it. Finally, my son was being born. All that was needed was the cry and then my fatherhood would feel official. Things were moving along like clockwork, as they say.

That clock turned out to be broken.

My son was delivered. But he wasn’t crying. For four minutes he wasn’t crying. Four minutes. The fatherhood came anyway. I just didn’t know how long that feeling would last.

Those were the longest four minutes of my life. It’s never a good thing to see a nurse running down a hall. It’s even worse when she’s holding a baby. The other nurses hurried behind her. The rest of us were worrying. And praying. Except for my wife. She was just praying. Out loud. Calmly. That feeling of motherhood had already set in with her a long time ago. So had that feeling that comes when you know that God is holding it all together.

My son finally took his first breath. Doctors and nurses were still worried about potential damage. He also had what those doctors refer to as shoulder dystocia. It wasn’t a happy sight seeing him on the other side of that glass with all of those tubes hooked up to him. I wanted to hold him. For a while, they wouldn’t let me. I felt like a father anyway.

After we got out of the hospital, another self-proclaimed expert told us that our son, “might not have any developmental difficulties.” I just smiled. My smile was only on the outside.

It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since I saw nurses with worried looks on their faces trying to figure out what to do with the baby who wouldn’t breathe.

Right now, I’m looking at pictures of him. In one he’s skateboarding while wearing shorts and boots. There are no signs of developmental difficulties. Fashion difficulties maybe. All boys have that. But no developmental difficulties.

The boy who wouldn’t breathe can’t stop reading books.

The boy who wouldn’t breathe plays soccer with his friends and runs the mile course in front of his house with his mom and dad.

I’ve had the feeling of fatherhood for eight years now. Five years ago, I got a double dose. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything. I don’t know what the future holds for the boy who wouldn’t breathe or his brother. Sometimes that can be scary to think about.

But then I remember that the One who took care of my son during those four frightening minutes is the same One who will take care of his future.

And I know that everything is going to be just fine.

Happy birthday, son.

The Grade School Economist

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There comes a point in one’s educational journey when you arrive at the realization that what you are learning, as good as it may be, isn’t the way it is in the real world. For me, that happened in my 12th grade wood shop class when I figured out that I would probably never use a table saw. I got transferred to an electronics class.

For my son, it happened this week when he brought home an economics study guide. The material on the study guide was excellent. But sadly, it isn’t being applied in today’s America.

Here are a few examples.

Study Guide: “Economics is the study of how people use resources. Natural resources are resources from God such as water, fish, and farmland.”

Today’s America: “Economics are rules that only get in the way of the government trying to give you what’s best for you. Natural resources such as water, fish, and farmland belong to the government. Never use natural resources, you selfish pig.”

Study Guide: “Producers sell goods and services.”

Today’s America: “Producers are greedy, old men who own fast food restaurants and only want to make more money so that they can golf more. They have no compassion for their hard working, completely non-greedy minimum wage employees who go on strike every two weeks because they want more money to spend on video games.”

Study Guide: “A budget shows how much you earn and spend.”

Today’s America: “A what?”

Study Guide: “Savings can be used for sudden expenses.”

Today’s America: “Credit cards are used for sudden expenses. Or, in the case of the federal government, money printing machines are used for sudden expenses. Either way, it’s free money. Savings accounts are only for those greedy fast-food restaurant owners.”

Study Guide: “People earn an income by working.”

Today’s America: “People earn an income by watching Judge Judy, having kids, developing a drug addiction, creating art that they could never sell without the aid of the government, having more kids, getting their own reality show, voting for people who promise to increase their wages for doing nothing and having kids. Anything but work. Oh, and did I mention having kids?”

Study Guide: “Prices of items are determined by the supply and demand.”

Today’s America: “Prices of items are determined by the government after they establish a monopoly by bailing out their ‘too big to fail’ corporate buddies and forcing the small, private producers out of business.”

Study Guide: “Wants are things that people would like to have.”

Today’s America: “If I want it, I have a right to it. And if I can’t afford it, someone else has to pay for my right to whatever it is that I want. Now give me my smart phone!”

Study Guide: “A factory is a place in which people use machines to make goods.”

Today’s America: “A factory is a place where people once used machines to make goods. But then it had to shut down because the owner of the factory couldn’t afford the new federally mandated insurance plans and the mandatory minimum wage increase. A factory is now something in another country where small children are used to make goods.”

I didn’t learn economics until the 9th grade. My son is learning it before he turns ten years old. I couldn’t believe it when he came home and showed me his study guide. That night, I even brought it to bed with me to read again.

I’m thinking about mailing it to the folks up in D.C.