It is early morning. For more than an hour I’ve been up praying, or reading scripture, or checking out ESPN.com, and now I’m sitting down at the kitchen table eating a bowl of Honeynut Cheerios with almond milk, and a handful of blueberries. The birds are now awake and tweeting like a tree full of mommy-bloggers logging on to start their day. The hallway creaks and my 9 year old daughter pads lightly into the kitchen, rubbing her squinting eyes at the overhead lights.
“Did you sleep well?”
She sidles into one of our mix-match kitchen chairs and I know she doesn’t want breakfast yet. She’ll want to wait and wake up a bit first. That’s when the battle begins.
The house is quiet, and we sit silently together for a few minutes. I finish my cereal, and I’ve got my daughter’s undivided attention. She must have heard me creaking around, or she would have stayed in bed. But I have nothing else to say. My mind is racing around, trying to think of something simple to talk about, some wisdom to impart or some probing question to get conversation started about relationships, faith, music, family, science, culture, or something. But after a few moments all I can come up with is…
“Do you know the plan for today?”
She shakes her head slightly from side to side. My mind is blank. Inside, I’m determined to infuse this moment with purpose, but I’m frustrated and feeling the pressure to parent. These moments are few and precious and I don’t want to waste another one sitting silently at the table.
But what about the value of sitting silently, a pat on the head, or inviting her to sit with me as I have many times before? Until recently, I had never considered that side of the question…
Maybe this internal struggle is the proof that I have fallen into the trap of valuing education over intimacy. Could it be that in the modern-minded zeal to cram my children’s minds with as much as I possibly can before they leave the home, that I have forgotten that all these things will fail them if they are not first grounded in relational intimacy?
Would you rather your daughter memorize the New Testament or trust you as the first place to run with her problems? Would you rather your son be a virtuoso on the violin or know that you are his fiercest defender, and that you’ll always listen, and you’ve always got his back, no matter what.
The next time one of my kids meets me alone with the sunrise, I’m going to remember this conviction and enjoy their company, trusting that sometimes they don’t need to know what I know. Sometimes, they just need me.
Featured Image courtesy of Rebecca Smith Photography
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David Kuhns says
Right on. I’m welling up over here.
Bruce Hennigan says
My kids are twenty somethings now. But, I remember a singularly moving moment when my son was three on the beach. I got up and sat on the balcony to eat my cereal and drink my coffee. He came out and sat by my and we just sat looking out at the heaving ocean waves and the wheeling pelicans in the morning air and the orange sun coming up in the distance. We sat there in silence until my son said, “God is a good painter, isn’t he Dad?”
So cool, Bruce. It is so easy to fill up the air and leave no room for those priceless pearls of kids wisdom.
Great post. The metaphor in the 3rd sentence is awesome.
Loren Warnemuende says
Hits the spot. Thanks, Ron.
S.D. Smith says
Great one, Randall. I’m the kind of guy who needs this reminder. Because I am an Explainer Of Everything. Thanks, bro.
Jodi Buttram says
How did a picture of Kevin Smith get hooked up with this post? Both are pretty great, I’m just curious about the combo =)
S.D. Smith says
Take a wild guess.
Thanks folks. And Sam, maybe we could start Explainers Anonymous for similar sufferers.
SD Smith says
Julie @ Wife, Mother, Gardener says
This is great – and just what I need to read a few times a day. Life is so much more about the context of our relationship with our kids than the measurable results it produces.
Jennifer Convey says
A beautiful reminder. Thank you!