In the weeks before David’s birthday, I began thinking of all the good books I read when I was a young teenager.
“Books are important,” I told Kathy. “They can cast a vision for what it means to be a man. I want David to read some of those good books.”
You know the kind of books I mean. The books that teach the important things — books about loyalty and honor and courage and self-sacrifice. Books with larger-than-life heroes who set the standard for manhood.
David is a big fan of the Artemis Fowl series.
So I did a quick pass through my library and wrote to a few of my friends and family members, asking for lists of books that they would recommend. Soon, I had a whole shelf’s worth. Except I didn’t have a shelf.
“Hey, Kathy, I need a shelf. How ’bout this one?” I pointed to a promising shelf in our living room at eye level for David. Immediately, I knew something was wrong, by the look on Kathy’s face.
Homeschooling Moms get a little territorial about bookshelves. Whenever we need a blank wall for a photo, we have to go outside or to someone else’s house, because we have bookshelves in every place that could possibly fit one. A quick survey of the house tells me that we have thirty (30) bookshelf units in our home, most with at least 5 shelves. But do you think Kathy will relinquish one in a prime location? Not likely. Eventually, she grudgingly made the top shelf of one of the units available.
Our new shelf o’ good, manly books.
I talked it over with David, and he and I agreed that we would start a Reading Challenge. We would both abstain from playing computer games for a certain period of time — maybe a few weeks, or a month, in which we would focus on reading some of the good books on that shelf.
My newly-teenaged son wanted to start the challenge when he got back from the Middle School retreat (and after he had a full week to enjoy his new Lego Marvel Heroes game). Of course, Sarah wanted to participate too, and is actually the only one who has already finished a book (and written the requisite book report). She is a bit of an over-achiever.
David spent today abstaining from computer games, and trying to finish a book that Joshua gave him for his birthday. I had a few meetings this evening, and (when I finally returned from working out at the gym) I settled into my computer chair. Out of habit, I toggled to one of my favorite computer games, and was playing it serenely when my youngest son walked up behind me.
Sins of a Solar Empire — hardly an auspicious title for one of my favorite games.
“You’re playing a computer game!” he accused, aghast. “What about our Reading Challenge?”
“Oooh, you forgot about the challenge,” Kathy and Sarah joined in, gleefully.
I’m hoping David remembers the ‘love mercy’ part on his shirt.
As a father, I usually try to set a good example to my children, by rigorously keeping my word and being as honest and faithful as I can. It is so easy to compromise one’s integrity in our culture, I feel that I need to hold the line as faithfully as I can, to show my children that it is still possible. I hope that I can one day say, like Paul did to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
This was not one of those days.
“How ’bout we start the Reading Challenge tomorrow,” I suggested, rather timidly. “It was an honest mistake, I’m sure you understand. The game was already running on my computer, and I just forgot … ”
One thing about parenting, it keeps you humble. I guess tomorrow we’ll start the Reading Challenge … again.