Saturday, February 9, 2008

Numbers, Chaos and Family

Greetings to all Bloggers and Blog readers, Justin here (I am the other adult part of this crazy, amazing family). I want to add a few words to this sacred place. I do so with blessings from my wife and with a desire to give a father perspective of our family life adventure.

With the appearance of every son, the social dynamic changes slightly. When Reese first appeared, Cole, for the first time, had to share mommy and daddy. His world became much bigger and he faced new emotions; boredom and loneliness. He also started to recognize the joy that came when you had just one parent all to yourself for an afternoon. When Reuben materialized, Reese was less than excited. He tried to express his frustration with all the crying and fussing of the new baby by punching and screaming. He soon realized life was much easier when he played with his older, verbal, active brother. Even now, on a bad day, Reese will punch or yell at Reuben when he doesn't do what Reese wants him to do (Kim and I could get jobs as Professional Conflict Resolution Consultants with the experience we have). Cole is a great helper and with every new addition he rises to the challenge. He sees the conflicts between R&R and tries to break them up peacefully by luring one away from the other. He will make breakfast for himself or for the others. He will retrieve anything you need at just about any time you need it. I am deeply proud of him. I am honored and humbled to see the powerful heart of a servant in one so young.

Hang with me, I'm going to get brainy now, but my point comes back to the heart. One of the core classes I took in college for my major was called Perspectives of Psychology. The class was one of my favorites. All we did was sit in a dark classroom and theorize about what outside factors affect human psychology. My professor was about 4'10” and looked like Albert Einstein. The only thing we talked about the whole quarter was Chaos Theory (I get amped just thinking about it again). We found that multiples of 2 were everywhere in the world. In chemistry most natural elements are stable in multiples of 2. In physics two equal and opposite forces create a state of stability (Binary star systems, muscle control, gravity). In biology, survival takes two (reproduction, symbiotic relationship, predator/prey). We then applied that trend to family and relationships. A marriage is a strong unit (2). Add baby (2+1=3), life becomes a bit unstable and difficult (At this point dad does not know what to do, he has no one to interface with, mom and baby have linked up in a bond of 2 and he is a floating 1). Add another baby (3+1=4), stability returns (dad has a child to link up with now, and mom has baby). This trend is evident in relationships too. A one-on-one talk is easier than a three person discussion, yet add one more and you have a double date.

All that nerdiness to explain the peace and stability baby Sean has created (4 boys IS easier than 3). The most change happened for Reuben with this new addition. He is not mommies baby anymore. Kim and Sean = 2, Cole and Reese have been two for a while, and Reuben has found his dad now. I take Cole and Reese to the park, hiking, to the store, etc. So for Reuben to hook up with me he had to start doing “big-boy” things. It amazes me to see him respond naturally to the change in family dynamic.

On the day of Christmas Eve the boys were getting wild. The weather was nasty and I had a wild hare to go for a hike. I knew it would be short but at least we would get out. This time, for the first time, we took Reuben. The four of us bundled up, I grabbed the baby backpack and we were off. The streets were alive with rain and rivers. Cole and Reese were wet up to their knees and elbows before we even hit the trail. I tried to put Reuben in the baby backpack. I knew it wasn't going to work when the top edge came up to his waist (it was supposed to be at his chest). I took it off and left it in the car (this was shaping up to be even shorter of a hike than I first thought). Reuben would not let me hold him the whole trip. He climbed up the slippery, muddy banks with the rest of us and when he fell into the puddles he would say, “O-tay, O-tay, O-tay!” which meant, “I'm OK, I don't need help, lets keep going!” I could see his determination to be one of the big boys and not hold us back. It was as if he felt like he was pledging for our fraternity of men and if he gave up we would not accept (absolutely not true in this situation, but you could see his intentional effort not to be a liability to us). Reese was the first to want be carried and to go home. Reuben showed his true grit and walked without help back to the car.

In January I took the boys up to Mt. Baker to go sledding. Again, Reuben was able to go to the mountain for the first time with the big boys. As before he proved he could hang with the young bucks. He didn't like sledding but he would throw snowballs at anyone who would go down the hill. Reese bit his tongue eating snow in the first ten minutes we were there and wanted to go home. I love my Reese!
To Reuben: You have shown great valor in your journey toward manhood. I now pronounce you one of the Big-Boy Philips Men. The road is long and full of challenge, but you will not be given more than you can handle. Welcome my son.


  1. Justin - you are such a great Dad. Thanks for the "fathers" perspective.

  2. Your perspective is very refreshing and insightful Justin. A nice change to the Acorn blogging...You guys certainly make having 4 boys look easy!!!