My husband Larry is in the hospital. He's very sick and in need of your prayers. Thank you so much.
This post is for him.
Men and women interact with children in very different ways. Larry's "childish ways" are a case in point.
I remember when our middle daughter was a baby. I was teaching when she was born in February and had to finish the last few weeks of school after my month's maternity leave. Larry changed to the swing shift so he could be at home with her when I was at school.
He used the time wisely, including working on our cars to keep them on the road. One day I came home to find him on his back under the car talking softly to himself while he worked. After saying "Hey Hon, I'm home," I went in to the crib to check on what I was sure was a sleeping baby. It was empty! Rushing back outside I frantically asked about the whereabouts of our child!
"Don't worry. She's right here with me." He said. I scrunched down to find her on a blanket, looking up wide eyed, at the underside of a car next to her father. He wasn't talking to himself when I first walked up. He was explaining auto repair to a baby while he worked.
When I think back on it I'm reminded how mechanically handy she still is after all these years.
Another time, same baby, and I should have known.
I came in from work. Elizabeth was sleeping peacefully in her crib. When she woke up I fed her and then got a terrible shock when I went to change her diaper. Black and blue marks went up and down both sides of her little body from armpit to waist!! I screamed!
Larry came rushing in. "What the heck's the matter!? he said.
"The baby's all black and blue!" I told him frantically. "Hurry! We've got to get her to the doctor!"
He looked, sighed, and then said as he went back out through the door, "Geez, don't get all excited Hon. That's just axle grease."
The Baby Whisperer
Have you ever met an infant or toddler having a meltdown? Something has gone terribly wrong in their little lives. Too much of something for sure. Routine upset by travel maybe, or too many strange relatives holding them. Too much commotion or too few naps. Whatever. In any case they are off on a crying, screaming jag of epic proportions and no amount of Mommy comforting will help. Often this is done in the most public or embarrassing places, like your mother-in-law's.
At our house Larry was always the cure.
He has a really deep "man voice." I'd hand him the screamer. He'd hold said child in his big man arms and start talking really softly right in their ear. Right throught the noise he'd keep whispering using those really low tones. After a bit, the kicking and screaming would start to quiet. Then after a few more minutes of baritone whispering he'd hand back a sleeping but exhausted child. I've even seen him do this with babies that weren't ours. Their mothers were always grateful and amazed.
It never failed. What a lifesaver.
When he was a younger man and more spry, Larry's preferred place of relaxation after work was lying on the rug in front of the TV. I guess this was a childhood habit. He would lie on his side with a soda in front of him close enough to reach the controls. No remotes back then you know.
At first there he'd be, all alone. In a few minutes a dog would come to lie down for petting. Then a small child to climb up on his hip to sit on top. Then another dog and another child. More children until any that were in the house showed up. All jockeying for a prime spot. He'd just lie there watching television, becoming a human monkey bars. It never failed.
I once saw this same method used to teach a lesson in Primary to a class of 8 year olds. Our Primary at the time was so huge his class was relegated to the church kitchen. It was my job to check on all the classes so I walked by and looked through the little glass window in the door. Larry was sitting at the table, manual in front of him. The snack he always insisted on bringing was at the ready on the counter nearby. "Grasshoppers and blood" he called them. Green, cream filled mint sandwich cookies and a jug of red fruit punch it was. After Sacrament you could count on kids in the hall asking excitedly if there would be grasshoppers and blood in class today. Anyway, I looked in and he was reading the lesson out loud straight from the book. We'd just had a teacher meeting that talked about no snacks and not reading from the manual. Children were climbing all over him. One kid who was draped on his head reached over it to point at the lesson. "No way, Brother Wagher. See, it says so right here." Everybody looked to see if that was right and Brother Wagher had it wrong again.
It was strange how all of them seemed to be focusing on the lesson though. Every kid was hanging on a shoulder or climbing up his back and looking at the lesson in the manual at the same time. I decided they must be getting the idea somehow and walked away shaking my head.
Sacrament meeting was always the same in that ward. We would sit down as the chapel was filling up. A boy in Larry's class would come and stand facing him, toes to toes and almost nose to nose since Larry was sitting. He'd just stand there, inches away, staring right into Larry's face until the prelude music started. No talking or facial expression whatsoever. Then he'd go sit with his own family. It was a greeting of some sort that I never understood.
That boy grew up and served a mission though. So reading from the manual didn't mess him up too much I guess.
Another time and another kid in his class. We were in the church foyer. Larry had an eight year old slung over his hip like a sack of coal. He was feeling the wall with one hand and holding on to the kid with the other. "What are you doing?" I asked him. "Looking for a soft place in this wall to put Scotty's head through." he replied.
I guess Scotty had misbehaved in class.
Not to worry. Scotty turned out alright too.
Men sure interact with children differently than women do.
A whole lot of kids today are missing that in their lives.
That man thing.
I'm thinking it might be something important.