Recently a friend was describing to me one of her saddest childhood memories. Every day she’d come home from school to an empty house and relax on the couch in front of the TV for a while. Inevitably she’d hear the unmistakable sound of her dad’s footsteps approaching the front door. She’d jump up, turn off the TV, and try to look busy as he greeted her with the same three questions every day:
“Did you do your homework?”
“Did you practice your music?”
“Did you do the dishes?”
That was it. No “How was your day?” No hug, no offering of a cookie. No relaxing together in front of the TV show. Just the dry, daily drill, void of emotion and nurturing.
I was shocked at my friends words. Weren’t those the same exact questions I ask a certain one of my daughters the minute she appears in the kitchen after cyber class every day? Would she too grow up with the same kind of memory? Something had to change while there was still time.
That evening I was determined to start making the change. I’d been nit-picky for far too long with this dear daughter of mine. It had shown in our relationship; the more I exacted perfection from her, the more distant she’d grown.
“God, please show me how to reconnect with her,” I prayed that day. I expected to receive some brilliant, heaven-sent idea on how to show her my love. Some divinely inspired, creative gift, perhaps.
I was not expecting what happened instead.
It was the evening after Christmas, and Dave and I were relaxing in the living room by the Christmas tree with glasses of eggnog. All the kids were in bed. All except her. What was she doing in the kitchen? Why was it always her lagging, lingering, fiddling, looking for trouble?
I stopped short of asking her if she’d done the dishes and remembered my prayer that day. This was it! This was my chance at forming a healing bond with a girl whose wandering, creative mind and slight accident proneness gets her in more trouble than she asks for. To her great surprise and delight, I asked her to join Dave and me in the living room with some eggnog.
For a whole minute and a half, we enjoyed the blissful company of our precious daughter. She savored the moment too, and the creamy, nutmeg-sprinkled drink in her glass. She reached across the coffee table for some more, and her glass of eggnog spilled
Every component was baptized in cream—every spreadsheet and work document gone to instant eggnoggy ruin.
The girl brought some towels and then quickly and quietly exited the room and went upstairs to bed. I sopped up the oozy mess under the laptop and Dave started unscrewing parts.
This was not exactly what I had in mind for healing a relationship, God.
We got the computer cleaned up and turned it upside down to dry, for whatever that was worth, and went to bed. On the way I stopped by my daughter’s room and knocked. She opened.
I hugged her and softly said, “Accidents happen.” I kissed her cheek and whispered, “I love you.” There was a tear in her eye.
The next morning her step was lighter. She was singing. I wasn’t blasting her with questions about undone chores and spilled eggnog, causing her to hide away in the safety of her bedroom.
I realized my prayer had been answered after all. Healing had come in a way more powerful than any creative gift or fun activity could have brought. The accident had given me a chance to show my daughter what was in my heart toward her in her weakest moment—something I’d failed miserably to show her lately.
Two days later Dave put the laptop together to discover a second miracle: it worked perfectly.
(For more stories revealing my Hitleresque parenting tendencies, check out my book:)