|Mitch, Aidan and Mac ~1998|
Looking at the two photos, I see the years of Matchbox cars that have turned into Mustangs and Firebirds in our driveways. I see the shinny games and mini sticks in our basements that have developed into a pathway to education for Mitch. I see the roaming around the acreage at the grandparents and the Christmases crammed into shared floor spaces and waiting for showers, hoping for hot water. I see games of dice and cards that have evolved into poker. The nights around the television cheering on the World Juniors and the summers dragging these bodies behind the boat on tubes until the light faded on the lake. I see the days of begging them to eat something when they were little and the nights of begging them to stop eating when they were teens. The teasing. The inside jokes. The camaraderie of cousins. Most of all, I see three guys whose brotherhood and cousinhood have made my definition of family feel incredibly special. And I can't imagine having better nephews and nieces than those that I have...
We spent 20+ years in youth ministry and having teenagers in our home, and we would often tell parents how interesting and amazing their kids were. I'm not sure if that experience has made me more of an expert or given me some insight into the characteristics of great kids...but I am sure of this...looking around the room at my nieces and nephews in the past weeks, and then having time with my own guys in the midst of it, I'll say this: there is a lot of incredible character that is coming out of this motley group of cousins. Bias aside, I believe that there are world changers in their midst and it's our job as parents to continue to tell them when we see it.
Last night, Aidan drove me to work and dropped me off. On the quick trip into town, he mentioned that he wasn't looking forward to going back to school, which isn't really his style. I asked him why and he said that he wished he could spend his time doing missions and coming home, because he enjoyed his time away so much but it also made him enjoy his time at home even more.
Don't underestimate your kids, my friends. It's okay to be proud of them and celebrate their unique and amazing contributions to your family and the community around them. I don't often recognize publicly that they are growing into great people, and it doesn't mean they aren't incredibly irritating or irrational at times, but I do want to say that when you see your kids doing something you've had expectations for and dreamt of? Tell them. Tell the world. And tell them again.