“Parenting is a war between you and your kids. The hard thing is the parents have this impossible mission of making sure both sides win.” –Sum Guye the Wise
My wife and I have some sort of slapdash plan of attack when it comes to setting behavioral expectations for our kids in different situations. Behavior in church is one they get to regularly practice, so it’s probably a little more clear. It goes in something like these stages.
Stage 1: Be a baby and, you know, poop and pass gas and nurse and scream and cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war (forcing parental evacuation) and sleep and look incredibly adorable. Get held by nice people. Distract people with your cuteness and antics as often as possible.
Stage 2: Play quietly on the floor with toys. Get reminded to play quietly twenty times. Learn to interpret insistent hand gestures that mean play quietly.
Stage 3: Sit in a chair and draw whatever you want including ENDLESS Tolkien/Narnia/Wingfeather maps, men, weaponry, Lego versions, Angry Bird versions, etc., to the edge of doom. Look at books, sleep.
Stage 4: Sit and listen, but you can draw things related to what is happening, or being said. Mostly engaged, but not totally attentive.
Stage 5: Take notes of repeated phrases, things that stand out. Draw related pictures, basically follow in text, listen well. Resist the temptation to draw unrelated material. Stay engaged.
That’s as far as we’ve gotten so far.
OK, so our oldest son was six and probably at stage 4.5 at the time of this event. He was listening pretty closely as one of our pastors talked about how we all screw up –in parenting, in life. Then he passed this note to me.
I guess one thing I’ve drilled into his head is a high regard for silliness.
Obviously, I’m ignoring this advice…
I keep my kids’ artwork in a special place. It’s called the trash can. Just kidding. But seriously.
— sammy rhodes (@prodigalsam) May 26, 2013
Another of his notes from past Bible studies (at home this time) was this gem produced after we explored Elijah on Mt. Carmel, taunting the prophets of Baal.
And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” ( from 1 Kings 18)
His drawing has improved. His spelling, well, we’ve got time to work on that. I like to think of his approach as Classical, predating sight-spelling.
He is old skool, like his dad. Scrood up.
But I have some consolation. This is another picture he drew of the two of us.
No laughter when he handed this one to me.
Love. Joy. Unuty!
That’s the aim. And I’m happy to see it in his own hand. Of course, there’s lots of “scrooing” up along the way.
I resist turning this funny post all “lessony,” but hey, God is great.
And he really is on the scene. The God we call out to in our (very real) parenting inadequacy is the God of Elijah. The Lord, he is God. He aims to build into our lives the same unity he has always experienced in the Trinity. We are invited into that same happy, unifying love and asked to be like that in the world. (Not act like that. Be like that. Be who we are –who we are becoming.) Our Triune God is great. He is active in our families.
And he does not take bathroom breaks.