Stay, Daddy, stay!
Deciding to have brunch Saturday morning, my wife, Carol, and I made the short drive to a local franchise restaurant where we enjoy eating occasionally. We were seated in a booth on the north side of the restaurant having one of those casual husband-wife conversations when two young girls and their father hurried around a nearby table and headed down the aisle between our booth and the tables to the south of us.
The older girl was perhaps four or five years old, and her sister was maybe two or three. Dad, a tall man, was tracking right behind the girls. The route they were on clearly indicated their destination. If there were any doubt, it was erased when the older girl turned her head toward her father and, in a commanding voice all of us in the immediate vicinity could clearly hear, ordered:
“Stay, Daddy, stay! We know where the restroom is.”
She was right. They knew where it was. Dad, however, did not stay—except to stay standing guard right outside the restroom door.
I couldn’t help but smile and glance across the table at my wife, who also was smiling. We both had our own thoughts about what was going through the daddy’s mind. I seriously doubt that he was truly thankful for his daughter’s announcement about their destination.
If he was embarrassed, though, it didn’t show. I couldn’t see him, but Carol said he was standing casually near the restroom door as if unaware that anyone might be looking his way.
In this situation it was easy for Daddy to stay outside the restroom, though he didn’t stay completely away as his daughter had pleaded. Her idea was for him to go back to their table; she and sister didn’t need him. But they might have and he stayed nearby just in case.
I have two daughters, and the thought occurred to me that this might not be the last time one or both of his daughters might want him to stay and he would have to decide whether to stay where he thought best or where daughter thought he should stay. Next time, his decision might not be as easy to make. This time, his daughters were happy to see him when they came out of the restroom, and the older one appeared to have forgotten her directive (plea?) for him to stay away.
The next time he is asked to stay and chooses to remain nearby rather than farther away, will the daughters have the same reaction?
One of the interesting and challenging aspects of being a parent is knowing when to stay out of your child’s life, when to be nearby, and when to allow some distance. Making that choice is not always easy, and those decisions don’t stop when your children become adults and leave home.
For us Christians, assistance in making those decisions is found in prayer. Those without that resource must find the decision making even tougher.
My real prayer is that I am always nearby in case any of my children call out, “Here, Daddy, here!” instead of “Stay, Daddy, stay!”