Rough Mornings and Tough Lessons

Ever have one of those mornings that starts with whining, a meltdown, a crisis, discipline, and then a bunch of tears before you’ve even brewed your first cup of coffee or rubbed off last night’s mascara?

Well, if you haven’t…don’t tell me…because that is exactly how this morning began for us.

“But I can’t find Leonardo’s sword, and it’s too hard to look!!!!!” 

I flashed my husband the “This-is-your-crisis-to-deal-with-because-I-need-my-brew” look and then handed off the proverbial parenting baton.

“Caden, you need to take the time to look. We will help you, but you need to look, too.” 

Falling on the floor, flailing arms, a flood of tears, hysterical exclamations, and a round of stomping feet immediately ensued.

Did I miss something? What is the issue? Did someone just ask him to build a house, climb a mountain, or count the rocks on the back patio??? Good grief! Glad I’m not dealing with this one! 

After the appropriate discipline had been given and a redirection had taken place, I heard my husband on the basement stairs.

“Bubboes (yes, that is his nickname…never mind that we had been calling him that since the first week he was born and then later found out that a ‘buboes’ is an inflammatory swelling of a lymph gland especially in the groin…NO ONE TELL HIM…he can find out in middle school when it ruins his life), life is full of hard things. I know that it takes effort and time to look for your sword, but there are a lot of things in life that take time and effort. As you get bigger, you are going to have to do harder things. Mommy and I will help you, but we won’t rescue you from the hard things. We will look with you, but we will not look for you.” 

I was so impressed with the gentle patience in which my husband handled our son that I decided I would help hunt for the sword while my beans brewed. Sure enough, underneath the couch bench and behind the book bins, I found Leonardo’s weapon.

After a few minutes of letting our son do his own searching, I called down the stairs, “Hey buddy, I found your sword.”

He was elated, and the crisis had come to a cathartic close.

I seized the opportunity to validate and affirm what his daddy had spoken several minutes earlier, reminding him that he was blessed to have a daddy that cared about teaching him the “tough lessons,” and encouraged him to go thank his daddy with a hug.

Immediately, he bounded into his daddy’s arms. And since the hug lasted for more than 1.3 seconds, I had to grab my camera and document it.


Because my husband is a good daddy, and I wanted to remember that tender moment with a lasting snapshot.

And oh my, am I ever glad I did. Because an hour later, my husband and I were the ones crying.


Sitting at the kitchen table in a pile of crayons and white paper, my husband was teaching our boy how to fold, draw, and create his own “picture story books.” It was super sweet and uber creative, and our boy was loving it.

“Once upon a time, there was a turtle named Leonardo.” 

“Leonardo was a small tadpole (I think Daddy may have confused frogs with turtles in this part of the story, but it’s all fiction anyway, right??) when he found a magical sword. The sword was way too big for him and really hard to use.” 


“But as Leonardo grew, he started practicing with his great, big sword. He had to work hard and start somewhere, so he pretended to fight leaves and trees.” 


“But after practicing and growing, Leonardo was big enough to wield his sword.” 


“Eventually, Leonardo was not only big enough and strong enough to wield his sword, but he started to fight with his sword.” 


“And then one day, after much training, he was finally able to use his great, big sword to defeat the monster. The end.” 


Through his own salty tears, my husband finished his story.

“Daddy, why are you crying?”

Attempting to compose himself, my husband looked my son square in the eyes and said some of the sweetest words my ears have ever heard.

“Because I was thinking of you as I told my story about Leonardo, and I got sad because I know it’s hard to be little and to struggle and to learn new things…and it’s hard for daddy to watch you struggle, too.” 

In a quiet voice, our boy asked, “Can I read you my story?”

“My story is called ‘The Secret.’ Once upon a time, there was a turtle named Leonardo.” 


“And he had a friend named Raphael. Both of their names started with a ‘C’ (fiction, folks!)


“And he found a sword that was too big for him.” 


“But he practiced his sword on trees and leaves.” 


“And then one day, he remembered being little in his dreams, but he kept on practicing. The end.”  


As I shed my own pool of tears (now the third person to have an emotional moment before 11 am), I thanked God for our rough morning and the reinforced lesson.

And though I have no clue why he titled his story, “The Secret”, I don’t believe our son could have chosen a better title for our morning or for his very 1st “picture story book.”

Because it’s true…

Life is going to be hard and as we grow, there are going to be tough lessons to learn and hard battles to fight. But when we have a patient and faithful helper by our side–teaching us, guiding us, and practicing with us– we hold a great “secret” and a very, very powerful weapon. 

6 thoughts on “Rough Mornings and Tough Lessons

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