Open Letter to the Sons in Law

IMG_2590January 19, 2015

Open letter to the Sons in Law,
I feel for you. You’ve got quite a challenge ahead of you. We’ve been working hard, lo these many years, to raise the bar on what our 3 girls will expect from you. If they choose you.
You see, I’ve got mustard and mayo on my face right now. So what? It’s a lazy Monday MLK, Jr. day with no work or school and no one is in a rush to turn off the tv and get our butts off the sofa. I mentioned to my husband that really want a cold cut sandwich, and by the time I got out of the shower, Paul had gone to the Food Lion and now I am enjoying a Black Forest ham sandwich on a kaiser roll with baby Swiss, tomato, salt and pepper, mayo and mustard. I mean like a sloppy sandwich with the Swiss sliding across the mayo-mustard and the tomato squeezing out the side when I take a bite. That’s what you’ll have to compete with because Lauren has a way of snookering her Daddy into making his world famous sandwiches for her school lunch almost every morning. She can do it herself , but it tastes better when she bats her eyelashes at her Daddy with a southern drawl “oh Daddy, oh Sweetie-Poo, I love you!” And she just can’t pucker her lips well for a respectable smooch on Daddy’s cheek. Can you make a world famous sandwich? If you can’t, will you at least melt when she bats her eyes and lean in for a kiss?
But that’s not all. When she was on crutches and wearing a boot from stepping on a nail, he had her out on the ball field before the coach even got there just so she could practice throwing and catching and hitting, since she wasn’t able to run. And she loved him for it. Lauren wants that quality time and assurance that she is special enough to invest in. She might not want to play ball with you, but will you push her to be her best even when her best is hobbling on crutches?
And Grace needs someone strong and supportive in her corner. She thinks she has to fight her battles all alone sometimes, and she doesn’t always turn for help. She thinks she might not be accepted if she reveals too much of what she feels inside. Her Daddy tries to get inside her head, and sometimes when she doesn’t want to let him know what she’s thinking, that’s like prying open a rusty lock. “Fine.” “Nuthin.” “Yeah.” And if he’s lucky, he might get a 2-word response…”um, ok.” But he keeps prying. What if Grace doesn’t feel like opening up to you? Are you determined enough to find out why her day was just “fine?”
Grace does seem to reveal herself in her art. A good man knows how to reach the creativity inside of a good woman. And Grace is a deep well of creativity. Her Daddy didn’t ask for a wrench set or a neck tie for Christmas from Grace. He commissioned a painting that brought tears to his eyes when she revealed it. Will you cry when Grace paints what’s in her heart?
You’ll have to compete for Emily’s affections. There’s already a first grade boy who has drawn hearts around her name. But she is a Daddy’s Girl. They have a morning snuggle routine, and she likes to have her back scratched with nails, please. It’s strange how Miss Independent can need to stick like glue to Daddy. Surely you won’t mind if she rides on the mower with you?
You’ll have to compete for her, but you might also have to compete with her. She is strong willed and by her own admission, she has never been wrong before. Never. Wrong. Before. Daddy knows how to work around that and nurture her humility without crushing her spirit. Can you?
Can you skip rocks on a pond? Can you make chocolate chip pancakes? Can you do a Michael Jackson dance (Paul can’t either, but it’s fun to watch him embarrass the girls by trying)? Can you withstand relentless belly-zerbers and tickles and flying whomps? Can you act surprised by shenanigans? Can you hold your tongue when your toes are stepped on again? Can you?
Well, by the time one of my girls might choose you, she’ll be too grown for zerbers, but she will want you to be playful. And I’m guessing my girls will never run out of shenanigans.
That’s a lot to expect from one man, and believe me, these girls will let you know if you don’t pass mustard, I mean muster. Anyway…good luck.
Grace’s, Lauren’s, and Emily’s Mommie

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