I better go into more detail on what exactly I mean for fear that she'll read this when she turns 16 and that would probably result in a real trouble that I would prefer not to define or even imagine. Probably better than defining trouble is to give you an example.
Let’s start with my oldest child. My son has a tender heart. I can give him "the look" and whatever disobedient behavior he is engaged in will immediately end and will often be followed by a heartfelt apology. He has a strong need for approval. He is a classic first born in many ways ... an independent leader, but a people pleaser.
In fairness, my “look” is pretty good. When I say good, I mean it delivers the intimidating message I want to deliver. Although it did not come naturally, having grown up in a home where the look was a clear warning signal that trouble was coming if I continued on my current path, I now understand the value of this tool for every parent.
So, when we first had children I started practicing it in the mirror in preparation for the day I’d need it for my children. I used it on my dog which usually results in him raising his ears (which is a lot of activity for my dog). In my mind, this was an acknowledgement that I am the alpha in the house (although it is possible the dog simply thought I was in pain). I even went to the local mall and practiced on other people’s kids, which almost got me hit with a purse. That last part isn’t true, but it would be funny. Right?
My daughter, on the other hand, is different. If my daughter is acting in a way that is disobedient and I give her the Daddy “look,” she will often follow my "look" with her own "look," a nonverbal way of saying, "You don't scare me!" On the flip side, she can be the sweetest, kindest and cutest child you've ever met.
So you can imagine my range of emotions at a recent wedding shower we hosted at our home for a wonderful young couple about to be married. In the midst of talking about marriage, my wife asked our daughter who she wanted to marry. At that moment, our group got quiet, listening for this little girl’s answer when she responded with, "I'm going to marry my daddy!”
My heart is filled with joy and I feel blessed to have this sort of "trouble." Her sweetness is the kryptonite to my “look.” I need to go back to the mirror to practice my “look.”
(Editor’s Note: Matt has a family of six — a beautiful wife, a son, two daughters and of course the family dogs, Tucker and Boomer. The new baby seems unresponsive to the “look” thus far. Matt’s column appears every other Wednesday in the Cleveland Daily Banner.)