On a Saturday morning our kids came into the room and got in bed with us. After the customary "good mornings" and "how did you sleep" and while the kids scratched my back, Maddy told a story about a friend of hers that had a puppy.
As a parent of children without a puppy this is dangerous territory. This subject has to be handled with "kit gloves." But before I can say anything to defuse the situation, Karen says, "it would be fun to get a puppy!" That's all it took. Maddy heard a positive comment about a dog and the little fire we had spent years squelching, immediately ignited into a raging inferno. "We should get one! I want a puppy so bad" she said. Ethan chimed in. "Me too, it would be amazing!" I looked at Karen incredulously and then gave her the evil eye. She smiled.
The rest of the morning was spent discussing all the reasons we couldn't get a dog right now. As I get out of bed I say, "Your sister Eva is too little" Maddy says, "She's almost two." As I brushed my teeth I say, "We don't have a fence." Maddy says, "I will walk him every day, three times a day!" "Yeah, me too!" Ethan joins in. As I put my shoes on to go for my morning run I say, "What about the poop, who's gonna pick it up." I got them now. I think to myself. Maddy doesn't even hesitate, "We will of course!"
When I get back from my run Maddy and Ethan meet me at the front porch and as I stretch, Maddy begins explaining how they could get a bucket and a shovel and how her friend has a dog and they pick up the poop with bags. When I get out of the shower and get dressed, Maddy and Ethan meet me at the top of the stairs with pictures they had drawn while I was in the shower of them playing with the "beautiful puppy" as stated in the pictures.
"What's this one?" I ask Ethan. "In that picture I am wrestling with the puppy. " he says. "And this one?" I ask as I take the second offering out of his hands. "In that picture I am sleeping with the puppy... I finally make it out the door for a meeting. But before I leave, I look at Karen and with as much accusation as I can muster I say, "You started this!" She smiles.
What I find when I get home blows my mind. Karen is on the computer; the kids are hovering around her. As soon as I walk into the room and they see me, the kids start yelling, "dad come see, come see! It's the most cutest puppy ever.
"Seriously!" I say to Karen. She smiles.
We grilled that night. Two beautiful rib eyes for Karen and I, and pan steak for the kids. They were eating too much of my rib eye and they really can't tell the difference. Hey, don't judge me, I didn't even get cheap steak as a kid. I ate baked leather and was grateful.
Anyway, while preparing the rib eyes, the pan steak and the grilled potatoes... the kids continued their assault. I tried a new angle. Do you have money for a puppy? Without hesitation Maddy says, "I would give up my birthday present." Ethan says "yeah, me too" but not quite as enthusiastically. "What about Christmas and next years birthdays as well," I ask. "Absolutely! We'll do it!" Maddy says. "Whoa Maddy" says Ethan. That's a lot of presents. But Maddy is not to be denied and she eventually talks him into it.
Finally its bedtime, I sit at the foot of Maddy's bed while she scratches my head. I tell them a story about how one time when I was younger, I went on a treasure hunt and had to go into a cave to get a golden statue. And how the cave was booby trapped with poisonous arrows that shot out of the cave walls. And how there was a huge pit that I had to use my whip to swing across. And how after I got the statue, the place started to cave in and a huge perfectly round boulder almost flattened me as I barely escaped the cave...
After my story, I prayed for both of them. Maddy wanted to bring up the puppy again but I pulled the oldest trick in the parenting handbook. "I don't want to talk about it anymore until I have discussed it with your mom." I said. Then I herded Ethan into his bedroom to say good night.
When I got there he didn't want to talk about the story or even wrestle. He just wanted to discuss the puppy. I was planning on using the same tactic I had used with Maddy when God spoke to my heart.
What He said was so beautiful I choked up. He asked, "How much do I love you?
I was kneeling by Ethan's bed and I said to Ethan "Hey buddy" "yes dad." Let me ask you a serious question. "Yes dad" "How much do you think God loves you?
He paused, "I don't know," he said. I asked another question. "Do you think God wants you to have a puppy?" He looked at me and his eyes lit up. Then he got serious and again said. "I don't know." So I said, "I'll tell you what, "I want you to pray and ask God whether we should get a puppy. We will do whatever God tells you."
I could barely control myself emotionally as I said this to him. I already knew Gods answer. You see, He loves my son with a love that rivals His love for me. I kissed Ethan on the forehead and said, " I want you to really talk with God and hear what He says. When you have heard from Him, come tell me." Ethan looked at me, scrunched his brow and in a reverent tone said, "Ok dad."
About thirty minutes later He walked downstairs. "Dad?" "Yes" I said. "I think God wants us to get a puppy." I nearly started crying again. My son and God were talking! "Are you sure?" I asked. "I think so." Ethan said. "Well, I think so too but I want you to be sure. The Bible says that God gives us the desires of our heart, so go pray some more until you are sure." Another half an hour passed and he came down again and this time he was grinning ear to ear. "I'm sure!" he said. "Me too. Lets get a puppy!"
As Ethan headed back up to bed, Karen came into the room and asked, "What was that about." "Oh, we are getting a puppy." I said. Karen looked at me and said, "I have had some time to think about it, I'm really not sure we should get one right now." I just smiled...