For many years, in the family I grew up in, there were only girls. After a few pregnancies, when my mom would announce she was expecting another, invariably people would ask, "Think you'll get a boy this time?" In all, five daughters were born to my parents and the hope for ever having a boy seemed dismal. But when I was almost ten years-old, my parents had their sixth and final child: a boy.
For a mother of six children, getting ready for church on Sunday mornings was an incredible task. No matter how much preparation of bathing, washing and ironing was done the night before, Sunday mornings were still chaotic for Mom.
Dad, on the other hand, would get himself ready and then go sit in the car, parked on the street in front of the house, and honk the horn until the rest of us were sent out, one by one, after passing mom's approval for our appearance being Sabbath Day worthy. Having claimed ignorance on how to curl hair, put on a child's tights, buckle little Mary Janes, or select matching ribbons, Dad had excused himself from being any sort of help with dressing five daughters on a Sunday morning.
But with the birth of a boy, things changed. Mom committed to him a special task: before he could go out to the car on Sunday mornings, he was in charge of dressing Steven. Dad complied with this request and accepted the challenge to dress one child for church each week. So on would go Steven's Sunday shirt, pants, tie, shoes, socks and belt. A quick slick of the hair with a comb and voila - one of mom's six children was ready for church.
Once ready, he and Steven would go out to the car and with the little toddler boy sitting on his dad's lap, they would honk the horn until the girls made their way to the station wagon as well.
One particularly special Sunday, the morning process had gone about as crazy as usual, except a little worse. Dad could find only one of Steven's church shoes. Since this was a semi-annual conference meeting Sunday, Mom was particularly stressed that we all look especially nice. With the added pressure and the seemingly helpless nature of Dad and Steve, Mom finally concluded in exasperation, that if they could not find the missing shoe, Steven would have to wear his old shoes to church.
Digging through closets and under beds, Dad and Steven had spent quite some time searching for the AWOL shoe. But even with the unforeseen delay, they still easily beat Mom and five daughters to the car that morning.
After the 15 mile drive to our chapel, as we piled out of the station wagon, one of my sisters noticed Steven's feet, "Hey! How come Steve is wearing one church shoe and one tennis shoe?" Mom threw an icy glare at my dad, "Roger!?"
Dad quickly explained, "The boy has two good church shoes. Why would I put two old shoes on him? This way everyone knows we have purchased nice church shoes for him, but we only could find one of them today."