Countdown: T-93 — Our Not-Yet-Great Dane

The thunderstorm came, but it was just a miniature thunderstorm with only a few streaks of lightning. It was enough to act out our Bible story, though. We used the coffee table in the living room for our boat.

The story said we needed “one man to run the tiller” at the back of the boat. “That’s me!” Dane shouted. He puffed out his chest and crawled over me, stepping on my head as he passed. (I was in place of Jesus, sleeping in the bottom of the boat.)

Dane grabbed the tiller, which mysteriously appeared as a broom from Mama’s hand, and labored hard to steer us through the storm. I felt a little sorry for the broom being throttled to death in his fierce grip.

*Notice the “multitude” listening to Jesus speak from the “shore.”

At four years old, Dane works very hard to be a man “just like Daddy.” He points out to his siblings that he’s growing from time to time, “And one day I’m gonna grow big and be a daddy, just like Daddy,” he’ll say proudly.

His one sister’s personality forces her each time to explain to him that, “No, Dane, you can’t grow up to be a daddy, until you first grow up to be a man and start dating a girl. And then you’ll get married and be a husband. And then you’ll be a daddy.”

“No, I’m just gonna be a daddy like Daddy,” he says firmly. He juts his chin up and forward to prove he’s not changing his mind. As far as he knows, Daddy never did all those other things, he’s just Daddy. And that’s what Dane’s going to be.

I once asked him what he’s going to do for a job when he grows up.

“Be a daddy.”

“But how will you make money?”

He cocks his head to the side and looks at the ceiling a moment. “I’ll just send Mama to town for stuff. She has money.”

“Oh, but she has Daddy’s money. Where will you get your money? Where will you go to work?”

“Huh. Um… But you don’t go to work anymore, Daddy. You just go to Schulhaus (The term I use for fun when referring to school). Do you still get money from work (The term I figured out with a few more questions he meant for Christian Light)?”

“No, I don’t get money from Christian Light anymore. I get money from going to Schulhaus.”

“But why would they give you money? You don’t do anything.”

You should feel sorry for him having to endure a philosophical lecture on the value of education and the necessity of great educators. I stopped delivering my thesis when I heard him sigh and noticed his eyes glazed over.

But it wasn’t all lost on him. Later I heard him explaining to his sisters, “Did you know that Daddy doesn’t call work “work” anymore? He calls Schulhaus “work” now. And did you know the school children have to give him money?!”

I need to work on my philosophical deliveries, I guess.

Dane is always eager to work–if that work is for Daddy. Working for Mama is fun most times, but sometimes it’s just too hard to fold a washcloth when he’d much rather be throwing firewood with Daddy.

He’s been a huge help to me this year with yard work and firewood and small house projects. He’s a willing and cheerful Gopher when I need a tool brought up from the basement or more straw brought to this corner of the yard or whatever.

I find it fascinating to watch how closely he watches me. It’s like having a miniature mirror everywhere I go. Why does he have one hand in his pocket? Because I do. Why is he standing with his legs all twisted into a pretzel (which looks uncomfortable, I admit)? That’s how I’m standing. Why did he just muss his hair all up in frustration? Because… Let’s move on.

We were throwing firewood off the back of the truck and into the basement one evening while it was lightly snowing. That probably sounds romantic to some of you, but it was mostly cold and wet. Yet I was enjoying myself watching Dane try to keep up with me and to match my every move.

I even once caught him looking bleakly up at the gray sky while stealing a glance at me to make sure he was doing it right.

My left shoulder gives me grief if I use it with great repetition, so I switched from using both hands, to throwing wood with only my right hand. I heard some grunting coming from the truck bed and saw Dane heaving a largish piece of wood for a four-year-old with only his right hand.

The piece kept falling out of his hand, but he refused to use his left hand to help. He managed to get it off the truck with great difficulty. The following pieces he grabbed were slightly smaller than that one for some reason.

Once he’d mastered the trick of it, he announced loudly to the falling snow, “I guess I’m just picking these pieces of wood up with one hand because I’m so strong.” Said with all the nonchalance he could muster.

Since the snow said nothing because it was cold and heartless, I did. “Wow, Dane! You’re so strong! You can pick up wood just like Daddy! Thanks for being a big help, buddy.”

The sun came out and there was spring in December.