I had apparently brushed aside her bashful requests too long. So over Christmas break our youngest child and only daughter renewed an old petition: She wanted her ears pierced! Such a mundane entreaty has a strange affect on an old dad who finds it a bit disconcerting to watch his little girl mature into a young…well, you know—I can’t even bring myself to write the word.
We sat down on the couch for a talk—a short one for me, a very long and unnecessary one in her estimation. I asked if she couldn’t wait a while longer, like maybe another 30 years or so. I asked rather melodramatically if she had counted the cost—if she was willing to endure the pain and follow the disinfecting regimen without grumbling. Most important I asked her why she wanted her ears pierced. She explained very matter-of-factly that she wanted to “look good.” I explained very matter-of-factly that I had no idea why that mattered or how earrings could help her attain such a ridiculous objective.
She sighed and rolled her eyes a good bit during our conversation. She endured my stall tactics with commendable patience. She also found revolting my insinuation that her request might perhaps be motivated by a desire to impress boys. I found solace in her repugnance toward the notion, while conceding in my mind that my relief is doomed to have a short shelf-life.
An old addage says that when you’re sixteen your dad doesn’t know anything, when you’re twenty-six he’s occaisonally sensible and when you’re thirty-six he’s one of the wisest people you know. I can testify that there is some truth in that observation. Though I still rarely seek my dad’s advice, it’s because—at age forty-three—I have come to realize how much of his advice I’ve already absorbed from growing up around him.
Our Savior bought us with His own blood in order to redeem us and remake us His image. That transformation is central to His great gospel purpose. In my life, He used my dad to accomplish some important parts of that purpose.
I don’t think my dad sat down and planned “I need to teach these four values to my kids.” He did it mostly by just being there and speaking his mind (sometimes quite passionately!) in the context of a life that made what he meant unmistakeably clear.