When I was a little girl, I loved to be my daddy’s “pride and joy.” I remember Shoshanna and me calling Daddy to come and watch us ride our horses, see the play house we built, or watch us swing on a rope or vine. The best part of being his pride and joy was when we came into the house and Dad bragged on us to Mom. We always knew he was glad that he was OUR daddy, and we knew he would not be as happy if we were not there to show him all of our great tricks.

I am now a mother of four, and I see my own children being their daddy’s pride and joy. Just a few days ago, Daddy came home from work and the girls asked him if he would go to the creek with them and see what they could do. Even though it was fall, the evening was warm. It was almost dark as we all tromped off down the lane toward the swimming hole. Gracie, my seven-year-old, rode her 90cc Yamaha. Laila, the five-year-old, got the courage to ride her big sister’s bike so Daddy could see that she could ride a big bike. Parker, our two-year-old, kept up a steady trot, running barefoot on the gravel. He stopped occasionally to pick up rocks but never stopped talking. I carried sleeping Roland in my arms. As we strolled, I thought, “Life doesn’t get much better than this.”

Gracie, being on a dirt bike, got to the creek before we did, so she made a big loop around the tree line before coming back toward us. That was when she ran over a small log, which made her struggle to maintain control of the bike. She succeeded in staying upright and continued to where we were. Her voice was shaky as she told her daddy what happened; she was trying hard not to cry. Seeing her distress, Daddy knew just what to do. He started praising her for not giving up and staying on her bike, continuing to ride to where we were. I reinforced what he was saying by telling her that she would be a stronger person because of that log in her way.

When we got to the swimming hole, the children all shouted, “Let’s go swimming!” Soon the girls and Parker were each yelling louder and louder to get their daddy to see what they could do. Laila was swinging and dropping into the deep water, then swimming out again. Gracie wanted to show him how she could swing one-armed and do tricks on the rope. Parker, not wanting to be outdone by the girls, was swinging out over the creek and pulling his legs up and over his head, swinging upside down. Then he smiled with delight as his daddy clapped in praise. It was heavenly fun.

The sunlight that had been over the water began to disappear, so we knew our playtime was over. Gracie and Laila climbed back on their bikes, still dripping and chilled. Gracie laughingly said that her riding boots were filling with water from her dripping shorts but it would not slow her down. As Justin and I walked into the tree-covered, shadowed lane, we were amazed that our wet little girls could jump on bikes and ride for home. I do not think I would even be that brave today! I know that being their daddy’s pride and joy, they have the courage and confidence to try new things. Even if at times it is a little hard and a log gets in the way and it is not all smooth going, they will see it as a chance to become a stronger individual. This evening’s adventure will not soon be forgotten. As the winter approaches, the children will look longingly at the creek and talk of what daring feats they will accomplish next summer when they will REALLY show Daddy how high they can swing.

I have seen adults who are afraid to step out, afraid to fail, so they do not even try. They never were someone’s pride and joy. Make sure your kids know that you are proud of them, even in the little things, so they will want to make you proud in the big things. Even now if you were to come by my parents’ home, you might find any one of us five kids telling Big Papa (Dad) something we have accomplished. You know from reading his writing over the years that he still brags on us even though we are all grown with children of our own. It’s my delight to pass his wonderful pride and joy secret to my children and, hopefully, now to yours.