As a child I toed the line. It was expected by both of my parents but my father was definitely the heavy. If my mom uttered those cursed words, "When your father gets home..." I knew I was in big trouble. I now expect nothing less than line toeing from my child(ren). I want my son to feel proud when complimented on his behavior in a restaurant or awarded high citizenship grades in school. But with that being said, I think my dad gave us the perfect balance of discipline and joy.
Discipline is both training to act in accordance with rules as well as an activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training. Joy is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
Joy: Dad made a great Pillowhead monster. It scared me but it terrified my brother. Not only was it fun to be chased by Pillowhead, it was hilarious to watch my brother go from laughing to crying to puking in the hallway.
Discipline: Dad has a vein on the side of his forehead that pops out when he's extremely angry. Jon and I learned at a fairly young age that we'd be alright as long as the vein stayed submerged. As soon as that squiggly blood tube appeared, apologies would need to be uttered immediately.
Joy: Summer vacations. I'm one of the biggest advocates of family camping (or at the very least family time without television, video games, and other forms of media) because of the wonderful times we had in a tent at national parks. We couldn't play Nintendo or watch cartoons so we played Steal the Shoe and watched our marshmallows turn golden in the campfire. My dad was always really good about taking vacations and my life and memories are certainly richer because of it.
Discipline: Over and over and over again my dad sat next to me while I stalled the manual transmission. He continuously told me that I wasn't listening. "What part of push the gas pedal down while you're releasing the clutch don't you understand?" He even used his hands to demonstrate. Repeatedly. I understood perfectly. It was applying the knowledge that I struggled with. At one point I left the car stalled in the cul-de-sac at my aunt's house and just walked away. Eventually he handed me the keys and said, "Figure it out." I did but I sure lost a lot of sweat in the process.
Joy: Seeing him sitting at most of my swim meets (for ten years) when he thought that going up and down a pool staring at a black T had to be the second most mind numbing thing. The first being actually sitting at a swim meet. I don't think I knew until I was much older that he was bored. He hid it well. It had to help that I was good. Right Dad? Right?
Discipline: Chasing me (I'm so not kidding) around the circle of our living room/dining room/family room after I broke a few of the pieces of my mom's heirloom nativity. I knew that if he caught me I would be killed. So after a few laps around the heart of our house I dashed to my room, slammed the door, and tried to pull my dresser behind the door. Yes, I was planning on living out my last few days holed up in that room. He was so angry that he told me I needed to come up with my own punishment. I was so remorseful that I came up with a real doozy. My actual punishment paled in comparison to what I had planned to inflict upon myself.
Joy: My 16th birthday party which exceeded my wildest expectations and probably the budget. My wedding which, I think, stayed in the budget. But the budget was large. I certainly didn't have a Ritz Carlton reception or rent out the Del Mar Fairgrounds but anytime you put 400 people in a room and feed them and make sure they all have napkins it's going to cost a lot. Also he saw the look on my face and put his foot down on the Charles R. Nunn Performing Arts Center for my reception. I should thank him more often for this.
Discipline: Turning out the lights in rooms we weren't occupying. We were always being lectured about saving energy. I am now the Electricity Gestapo and even find myself turning lights off in the homes of other people. I think that recognizing you have a problem is half the battle, right?
I could go on and on about how my dad taught me about vacuum lines, making a really great ice cream Sundae, the importance of daddy/daughter dates, and how to take on a crazy art teacher, even if, in the end, she doesn't change your grade. I could reminisce about dancing on his feet and the time that he had to climb a fence with me while I ran a high fever or how we would be the only two people awake on road trips and we'd make fun of my brother and my mom for catching flies.
When I was born my dad was just 22 years old. For all intents and purposes he was still, like, a baby himself. It's incredible to think that, at such a young age, he had his act together. The countless blessings have not gone unnoticed. And, looking back, most of the discipline is uproariously funny. But then, I did make it pretty easy on him being the wonderful picture of obedience that I was.
:-) :-) :-)
So yeah, I toed the line. But do you want to know why I toed it? Because just around the corner, my father was waiting with abundant blessing.
I love you, Dad.