Our children grow as fleeting as the sun sets at night. There’s no denying babies growing older, it’s just something you learn to accept. While we are still holding onto their baby blankets and cherished stuffed animals, they are making choices on their own. Some good, and some bad. Contrary to how much we show them they are loved, and how to be of good character, they sin. We sin. We are forgiven , as are they. The cycle is one big circle of grace.
I started the potatoes on the stove top. Before they began to boil I walked to the back deck to check on our six year old that was riding his bike in our driveway. He was no where to be seen, and as a Mother that tries NOT to panic, I always do.
I ran down the steps only to see him across the street, riding his bike on the road with some neighborhood boys. I have strictly told him to never ride his bike on the road, and especially without a helmet. His florescent shirt shown through the green leafed trees as I yelled his whole name. When I say all three names, I mean business. And someone should pour me a glass of Merlot..
Immediately we lock eyes, as he rides towards me. His bike hits the ground, and he kicks the rocks below his feet walking towards me. His head hanging low, and his demeanor rather disappointed in himself , he ran to me in an embrace. Hot tears streamed down his face as I walked him to the deck steps. There we sat in silence as he wiped his tears. He wouldn’t look me in the eye, the very thing that bothered me so.
” Buddy, do you understand why I called you over here?”
” Then you remember that I told you never to ride your bike on the road without asking me first?”
” Then why did you do it?”
” My friends told me to do it. I told them that you said no, but they said I should ride anyway. That it would be fun.”
” Oh. And did you feel bad inside when you were riding, knowing that you weren’t supposed to?”
” Then it really wasn’t worth all that fuss right? Why didn’t you tell them that you couldn’t ride on the road? Ask them to come ride their bikes in our driveway? There is so much space to ride honey.”
” I know. But they are older. They are bored here.”
Minutes felt the hours as I held his still chubby hand in mine. Explaining to a six year old about peer pressure isn’t easy to do. They aren’t aware of the pressures of fitting in yet, and frankly I wasn’t ready to embark on explaining that to him. But alas, here we were. Here he was trying to fit in with kids older than he was. All the while, casting my wishes aside.
With his head hanging lower than I ever knew possible I said the words that I could hear my Mother saying to me at his age. It was if I was channeling her sentences, ones that she spoke to my siblings and I many times.
” Baby, when people ask you to do something that you know is wrong, you have to tell them NO. Telling them No may be embarrassing, or disappointing at first. A lot of times doing the right thing is hard. We may get made fun of, or called names. In the end making the right choice is being respectful to our parents, and to God. I know you are a good boy, who makes good decisions. You know what is right, and in this situation, you knew you were wrong. Mommy knows how you feel, wanting to play with the other kids, and fit in. Just sometimes we have to stand up for what is right, instead of following the crowd. Does that make sense?”
” Yes, can I get a snack?”
” Buddy, do you understand what I am saying?”
” Yes. They kept asking and asking for me to ride on the road with them. Finally I got mad and just did it.”
” I understand. Next time someone is pressuring you to do something that you know is wrong, all you have to do is tell me.”
” Ok, can I get a Cliff bar?”
In all of this parenting stuff, I have learned that their character is shaped with us, their parents. At home. When we place value on obedience , and value on respecting adults…. we can only pray that our children will do these things out of our care.
My huge prayer when I drop off my son for school daily is this:
” Jesus please let him be a leader, and not a follower.”
Trying to raise up leaders is hard work. But with God’s help, it can become enjoyable, in a super exhausting way.
Being patient with them as they make mistakes is tough work, holding your tongue and battling your emotions as they disobey you is serious stuff. But at the end of the day, when all is quiet and sound, we can all say that we have done our best to raise children to be pleasing to God.
I only hope that our babies see me as a leader, and never a follower. If I am following anyone, let it be Him.