44 Minutes and Four Fancy Cars
By: Kevin Bullock
Apr-07

When my oldest son was 1½, we started a Friday night ritual that began with the intent of giving my wife, Christine, a decent night’s sleep. The festivities would occur the moment I arrived home from work. Andrew and I would drag a mattress on the floor of the living room, watch a video, read stories, and cuddle to sleep. Then we would tidy up the house the next morning as Christine was able to get up a little later than usual.

The name “44 Minutes” began when my oldest son was still short of two years old. I arrived home from work, only to discover that I had left something at work and needed to return. My son started to cry, fearing that our Friday ritual would not take place. It was 5:16, and I promised to be home by 6:00 since it was a 20-minute drive back to work. “I’ll be back in 44 minutes!” I said. The whole time I was gone he kept repeating, “44 Minutes. 44 Minutes. Mom, he’s coming back in 44 Minutes!” The name stuck, and we’ve called it this ever since.

Over the years we added kids, and got bigger mattresses. (Now my boys are 14, 10, and 6, and my girl is 8.) My children learned their days of the week, often with the older children tutoring the smaller ones, with the motivation of learning how many days there were until Friday. When the children awoke, I can still hear the enthusiastic squeals as whoever woke up first would officially declare the day to be a Friday to everyone else!

One evening the five of us were running our 44 Minutes errands. As we picked up the Chinese food on this one particular night, there was a man my age picking up a single order for himself. Annabelle commented, “He must be doing 44 Minutes alone tonight.” We then saw him get into a Porsche, which my three boys admired. Thomas replied, “There’s no back seat for the kids!”

Our second errand for the evening was running to the video store to rent a newly released movie. As we are leaving the store, we saw this same gentleman coming out with a bag almost as big as the one containing his Chinese food, hopping into the same Porsche. I recall my little girl feeling sad that he was alone, and my boys admiring the noise of the engine as he took off.

For a moment there, even I was almost caught up in the excitement. I wouldn’t call it car envy, but here we were piling into an old minivan with six digits of miles on it and lots of dents from bike handlebars and careless neighbors in parking lots. It’s a far cry from a slick, black, souped-up, current-model Porsche.

“Wow, that’s a great car, isn’t it?” I asked my children. All responded admiringly. “Wouldn’t it be great if had four cars just like that to zoom around town?” Again, my kids agreed. “Wouldn’t be it awesome if we could drive more than one of those fancy cars at a time?” My children again were of the same opinion.

“Well, guess what, you four are my fancy cars! I get to take you wherever I go. I get to play with you, wrestle with you, sing with you, snuggle and cuddle with you, joke around with you, teach you things, and you are my best friends in the whole world. The guy we saw, he’s got the fancy car but it stays in his garage as he comes in to spend a Friday night alone with Chinese food and lots of movies. I’d rather have a dinged-up van with four children inside than all the fanciest cars in the world.”

My children again concurred, and concluded that between Dad and the Porsche guy, Dad was the one who was best off. Better yet, they truly saw their value in their father’s eyes. As King David wrote in the Psalms, “children are a man’s arrows, and blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

(c) 2006 by Kevin Bullock.

Kevin and his wife, Christine, homeschool their 4 beloved children in Eugene. They serve on the board of the local support group, LIGHT. The Bullocks also serve on the OCEANetwork Board.

 


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