Don't blink. We've heard this so many times about little bitty towns and about our precious little ones growing up too fast! When it comes to the amazingly giant thing they call parenting, the whole not blinking thing gets difficult when your eyes are desperately drooping in exhaustion. So...maybe that's a metaphor -- Look at me using my teacher talk...
Don't blink. It's so true that we need to pay attention while these little ones are sprouting up. I find my problem is not paying attention as much as it is focusing my attention on the most important things.
I've started a little journal of "kids say the funniest things."
My most recent entry goes a little like this:
While relaxing in the tub tonight my youngest unnamed 8 year old boy comes in to 'spend some time.' He settles in all too comfortably to do his thing, while I on the other side of the shower curtain invent again a plan to add a master bathroom. He breaks up my dreaming by starting our conversation ritual..."Good thing, Bad thing?"
So he tells me his good thing for the day, bad thing for the day, something he's learned and something he's thankful for. In a split second I have a parenting moment of genius and decide this is my chance to throw in a curve ball I've been meaning to add to the ritual. I say "What's something you did for Jesus today?"
After a bit of hesitation he says -- "Well I didn't get in any real trouble today."
After making a mental note that I'm still needing to ask for more grace and less legalism, I urge him to think about something he did instead of something he didn't do. He triumphantly reminds me that he reminded me to pray and boom he's done. My turn.
Good thing, bad thing...thankful for and something for Jesus.
"But Mom, that one should be easy for you. You always do things for Jesus and are nice to people."
Mental note 2 -- I adore that kid.
Mental note 3 -- make sure I'm confessing my mess-ups in front of him more often, because I'm thinking his perspective is a little rose-colored
I humble myself and admit to Him that most of the time I do those things because they are right and not always because I'm trying to show the love of Jesus. I tell him about someone who doesn't know Jesus that I'm trying to talk to every day and show kindness to so I can share with him about Jesus love and hope for us.
The innocence of my well-churched 8 year old says "Oh that's sad. There's not very many people who don't know Jesus."
Mental note 4 -- sheltering him is working.
Mental note 5 -- If I'm trying for a distorted world view I can check that off the list also.
So by now he's comfortably seated in the laundry hamper and settled in for a long talk. I run a little more warm water into the tub knowing I don't stand a chance of shaving my legs anytime soon, and I tell him how there are really a lot of people who don't know Jesus in the world and that even Jesus said there would be many who don't know Him.
He ponders this and asks
"Does so-and-so know Jesus?"
(insert name of 17 year old daughter's guy friend for so-and-so)
I gladly say "Yes, he does know Jesus."
"Oh good because if he's going to be...um...what's it called....you know...oh -- brother in law, then he has to know Jesus!"
My jaw drops and mental notes are flying too fast to be documented. I assure him that I don't think that he will be a brother in law anytime soon and recover with something along the line of I'm glad you want him to know Jesus.
To which the 8 year old replies...
"Oh bummer! I just can't wait to be an uncle!!"
Bath time talk is over. I need to process this.
Processing required repeating the story a couple of times which Cowboy didn't find even remotely humorous or entertaining. (Dad of daughter thing I guess.)
But here's the thing. I find myself looking for signs that we are doing okay at this daunting job of parenting and that our kids are turning out alright. Too often in my search for signs I look for good grades, clean rooms, nice manners, respectful attitudes and I assess how we are doing.
This funny little incident made me see so many more things I should be paying attention to! Do they love Jesus? Do they love others? Do they want others to love Jesus?
I mean don't get me wrong, I'm not falling off the clutter free, clean your room bandwagon. I still love good manners, good grades and sweet talking children. BUT, that's not what I should be counting as signs of success. Those are signs of progress in teaching little hearts to LOVE!
Anyway -- long story. Simple message. Let's not just look up and pay attention to our kids....let's pause and look into their hearts and souls. We will find every single joy that parenting has to offer right there in that moment and might even find time to blink.