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Eric Christiansen: Princesses, weddings and sock drawers

Chairman of the Boards

Posted: March 13, 2009 12:15 a.m.
Updated: March 13, 2009 4:30 a.m.
Kathryn Christiansen, 7, stands up for the first time on daddy's board. Kathryn Christiansen, 7, stands up for the first time on daddy's board.
Kathryn Christiansen, 7, stands up for the first time on daddy's board.
My wife and I were happy to be alone on a "date" - even if it was going to a wedding. At home, the babysitter wrangled our three kids - Peter, 10, Will, 9, and princess Kathryn, 7.

Before the final "I do's" were spoken, the pastor asked the wedding party to gather in prayer. Dan, the father of the bride, put his hand on his daughter's shoulder, as tears came to his eyes. Then it hit me, the bride was once his 7-year-old princess. I choked up as I imagined myself giving away my princess.

It's a boys world
Let me rewind a bit here. Our first two children were boys and I am thankful for that. Thinking back, it was scary bringing our first little one home.

It is a scary proposition bringing a bundle of love home only to realize the total lack of knowledge you have in hands-on child-rearing. Going on faith, instinct and the fact he was a boy, I dove in.

I knew my way around the plumbing and I knew he would not break easily. I would later build on this confidence to become a hands-on, diaper-slinging daddy. By the time my second boy arrived, I was well-versed in the ways of baby boys.

As my two boys grew, it was a dream come true. They were 110 percent boys - trucks, mud, fights and blood. At age 3-and-a-half, my youngest was skating in skateparks. Since then the three of us have conquered several board sports together and continue to shred together as the Christiansen clan.

Stork is dressed in pink
Well, it came to pass, that my wife announced our third pregnancy. What would it be this time? For my money, it was a boy. I figured that we already had two, and it made logical sense to me. During the sonogram, the doctor turned to me and asked if we wanted to know the sex of the baby. I looked at my wife and said "yes."

"It's a girl," he said. I almost fainted as my head filled with visions of pink socks topped with white lace. I was overjoyed. It was eight months later that my princess came in to this world in a big way, at 11 pounds, 11 ounces.

Little girls are sugar and spice
Boy, did I have a lot to learn about girls. I found that each new thing I learned was a gift. I will never forget the first time the differences were made apparent. Kathryn had crawled into bed with us.

We were sleeping soundly and suddenly I was roused out of my sleep by the sensation of a bug crawling on my cheek. Going to swipe it away, I grabbed my daughters hand.

I awakened to see her smiling at me. She was tickling her daddys' face. Now, sleeping with my two boys, that had just never happened. With them, it was more like a WWF grudge match with elbows to the nose and knees in to the back.

I now had a little lady to round things out - father-daughter dances, dates with daddy, American Girl movies, a Flavia book for bedtime and beautifully decorated prayer journals.

Giving her away
Back to the wedding. You walk into the church with your daughter and she walks out with another name? Will I ever be prepared to do that? I guess, in a way, I already am. Let me explain. I believe in stewardship - the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care.

Money, resources, talents and yes, even our children have been entrusted to us. To me this is a double-edged-sword. On one side, I have a monumental responsibility.

On the other side, I have an infinite source of help and guidance. Even with that faith, I do not look forward to the day I have to surrender stewardship and let my little girl go.

The sock drawer
My "old-school" pediatrician once told me this: "Your baby will be happy in a sock drawer as long as he/she is loved."

We all try to do our best as parents. It is difficult to tell where our actions and best intentions stop and when we need to let go of control.

Too often it easy to drop the kids off at sports, get the private coaches, private schools, academies and purchase the barrage of electronics, all in the hope of improving our children.

Is this what we want or what the child really needs? To give of ourselves is much more difficult.

The challenge becomes spending our time in their world. I know there is a plan for each one of my children, but it is my prayer that when they go off on their path, they will always know that they have a safe "sock drawer" to return to.

Eric Christiansen lives in Santa Clarita with his wife and three kids where he directs and edits commercials and documentaries. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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