We have four wonderful children – Paul, late-40s, Karen, 15 months younger, then after a ten year gap we got the machinery going again and two more girls joined our family – Amanda, now late mid-thirties, and Lindy, a year and a half younger.
Before my mid-life crisis (in Canada), I was a typical male workaholic, who aimed for excellence at my job/calling, and left too much of the parenting to the children’s mother. Our two eldest are still suffering the effects of all that (and they’re not in the church). The youngest two are very close and devoted to us, and to the Lord. Why? Simple, really: I bonded with them in their pre-teen and teenage years. In the year in Canada when Jan was out working and I was home studying, I’d go down the hill to meet Amanda and Lindy after school. The walk home was precious: I would hear all about their day. When Jan arrived home and asked about school etc. of course they’d told their story and just said ‘O.K.’ I remember commenting many times to Jan that she got to hear the eldest kids’ debriefings and I didn’t back then, and I – and they – missed out on so much!
Paul is quite an outstanding poet. Here's one of his offerings to an Internet poetry group (on which he has posted about 150 poems of the 600 he has written):
By Queen's Park Lake
Posted by Paul on July 10, 2001
a cygnet waddles up to
Jay, aged two, who
almost pats its
of a furry-grey
as I stand
and its mother
a question mark
required of us
by perfect grammar.
More of Paul's poetry...
One of the highlights for me as a parent was to participate a few years back in the 90th birthday celebrations for my mother in Sydney. Our three daughters drove to Sydney for the occasion (first time they'd ever been locked up in a car for two nine-hour stretches!). Karen and Amanda and I drove together to pick up 'Ma' as she was called from her retirement village in Cherrybrook, and it was lovely just relaxing with them as we drove through the suburbs of Sydney...
Karen has several strings to her professional bow: editing, marketing, a good knowledge of medicine, and lately, superannuation. She and Ross have produced two wonderful daughters - Abbie, who has an honours Arts degree, and Coralie, who has a degree - and a job - in landscape architecture.
Amanda is a trained teacher of English as a second language, and a counselor (for some years with a Christian school, counselling trouble teenagers). She is currently working with a Catholic preparation-for-marriage organization as a facilitator. She and John live downstairs in our home, and their two little girls are a daily delight!
Lindy is a leader in the missional organization working among the urban poor in a couple of Melbourne suburbs - Urban Neighbours of Hope. A proportion of my seminar, preaching and counselling donations go towards that organization's wonderful ministry. Here's a promo for one of their Surrender Conferences:
Update 2010: Lindy is now with an inner-city Melbourne ministry - Urban Seed.
One of my most cherished parental dreams is to be able to get as close to Karen and Paul as I am to Amanda and Lindy.
Ever wondered what happens in a teenage boys' dressingroom after a win in a football match? (Our grandson Jay is dark-haired, without a top, and is leading the chant):