My two children are adopted. Like all children everywhere, when they were little, they absolutely loved to have Mom or Dad tell them stories and sing to them at bedtime. Any parent can tell you that the best stories of all are the ones that feature the children themselves. “Tell me that story again, Daddy,” they say.
One night, as I was rocking our first baby to sleep in my big old rocking chair, I told this story for the first time. She was too young to understand, but it comforted me and gave her a soft, loving voice to listen to as she dozed off. It proved to be very popular with both our kids; it became a bedtime favorite. Mom never learned to tell the story just right, but I once heard our daughter telling it to our son when she was four and he was two.
Here’s the way I told the story (every word of which is true, by the way).
The Lonely Man and the Rocking Chair
Once upon a time there was a very lonely man. He lived in a nice house by himself. He had a good job and had everything he needed to be happy, except for one thing. He didn’t have a wife. He wanted to have a wife. He needed to have a wife. But he hadn’t met the right woman yet, so he was lonely all the time.
One day at work, he was counting furniture in a warehouse for a furniture store. It was a big warehouse and he got very tired as he walked up and down the aisles counting all the chairs and beds and dressers and other things. At the end of one of the aisles, he found a wonderful wooden rocking chair.
He decided it was time to take a little rest, so he sat in the rocking chair. Oh, it was so comfortable! He settled into that chair and knew immediately that it was just right for him. He rocked back and forth slowly and rested for a few minutes until he was ready to go back to work.
He worked all day and into the night in that warehouse–there was a lot of furniture to count in there! And every once in a while, he would go back and sit in that same rocking chair and take a little rest. Every time he sat in it, it made him feel good.
The day after he counted all the furniture in that warehouse, he went back to the furniture store and bought the chair. It was such a wonderful, comfortable, almost magical chair that he just had to have it. He took it home and put it in his favorite reading room.
During the long, lonely nights, the man would sit in his wonderful rocking chair and think about how much he wanted to be married and have some little children. He liked sitting in his rocking chair; it made it so he wasn’t quite so sad. He would read his books while he rocked and sometimes he would take naps in the chair.
Then one day, the lonely man’s prayers were answered. He met a wonderful woman and, after a little while, they got married. He was so happy. He loved this woman with all his heart and they had so much fun together. But he still used his rocking chair (and so did she!) because it was still wonderfully comfortable and comforting.
After a while, the not-nearly-so-lonely man and his wife began to wonder if they were ever going to have any children. They both loved children and wanted to have a big family, but as time went by, they just weren’t having any babies. They waited and waited and did everything they could to have children, but no babies came. Eventually they found out that something was just a little bit wrong with them and they would never be able to have babies the regular way.
Now they were both sad. Even though they loved each other and had a lot of fun together, they were lonely together for the children they needed to have. They wanted to be a family with little girls and boys. So the man (and sometimes his wife) would sit in the wonderful rocking chair and think about how much they wanted to have children. He was sad again when he thought about not having any babies.
After a time, the man and his wife found out how to adopt babies. They worked and they worked with the people who help moms and dads to adopt babies, and after a long, long wait, their new little baby daughter came to live with them. They were so happy! They loved that little girl so much!
Now the used-to-be-lonely man and his wife had a little girl. They needed only one more thing to make their family complete. They needed a little boy baby. So they worked with the adoption people some more, and one happy day when their little girl was two years old, another new baby came to live with them. Now they had a daughter and a son, a boy and a girl. They were so happy! They loved that little boy so much!
But you know what, little ones? Now, when the man sits in his wonderful rocking chair, he doesn’t have to be lonely any more. He doesn’t have to be sad any more. He has everything he ever wanted in life. He has the best wife and the best little children in the world. Now he sits in the wonderful rocking chair and rocks his babies to sleep. He rocks them in the chair and sings them songs and tells them the story of the lonely man and the rocking chair. Because, my little sweethearts, that man who was so lonely is your daddy, and we are rocking in that special rocking chair, and you are the wonderful little babies he wanted so badly.