Thursday, November 10, 2011

What a Parenting Book Doesn't Train You For...

The alarm goes off at way way-too-early o'clock and reluctantly you stumble out of bed after having hit snooze 3 times. Before you wipe the sleepiness from your eyes and even before the coffee maker turns on you hear your six year old son weeping quietly. Groggy and unprepared to deal with this crisis you stagger over to him to find out what's wrong. Meanwhile your 3 year old son and your 2 year old daughter are hungry and thirsty, requiring some sort of breakfast. Hazily, you pour cereal into bowls, (turn the coffee machine on) slosh milk into cups and stumble back to six-year-old son, still weeping, though trying to look brave. Gently (or as gently as you can muster at way-too-early o'clock without coffee) you ask him what's wrong. He hides his face in his hands, wiping red nose on monster pajama sleeves. You ask him if he wants to talk about it. He nods. Minutes pass while he collects himself. He begins.

He tells you he's sad that he doesn't have enough money saved to buy an online computer game membership. He wonders when he will have enough saved. He has twelve dollars. The membership costs eighty. You pause and wonder the best way to approach the situation. You take a deep breath, collect your thoughts for a moment and dive in.

You tell him there are things in life that everyone wants but can't have. You tell him the world is full of neat things, expensive things. You tell him that kids and grown-ups alike have to say "no" to themselves when things are out of their price reach. You explain as best you can that grown-ups have bills to pay--food to buy, clothes to purchase, electricity, heat. With as much wisdom and grace you can muster you explain that some people in the world have lots of money and others much less. You tell him that Daddy works hard, and though it may not feel like it, you're blessed to have the things that you do. You remind him that many people work hard their whole lives and still struggle to have basic needs met.

You tell him, tears still falling from his big brown gentle eyes, that there are choices to be made when you grow up. Money choices. Choices about what you will be and how much money you might make. Choices about giving up well-paying careers in order to stay home with kids. Choices about saying no to fancy cars and name brand clothes in order to enjoy life's other riches. You tell him these aren't easy choices to make and each person in their lifetime chooses differently. You tell him you pray for the wisdom and knowledge to make these choices wisely. You tell him you look to God for comfort and guidance and trust wherever He leads. You tell him that while things are nice, they don't bring happiness. You pause and you pray that he understands just a tiny bit of what you are saying, though you know it's several years ahead of his understanding.

He pauses to take this all in, clutching wooden bank in his six-year old hands. You see him weighing your words, tumbling them around like an unopened gift at Christmas. He eyes his bank holding weeks worth of money saved. Money earned by vacuuming, drying dishes, tidying rooms. Money he counts each day waiting for the moment he'll have enough for his next proud purchase. Slowly he looks up at you, extending his hands, wooden box clutched tightly between them. Tears now spilling fast, your little boy offers you his life savings. He tells you he wants to give you all of his money. Because you and Daddy "probably need it more" than he does. Your heart flip-flops in your chest from emotion and you have no idea how to respond to this giving spirit, this beautiful little boy with more generosity in his 6 year old heart than most adults possess in a lifetime.

So you hold him tight and tell him to enjoy his money, tears now welling in your eyes as well as his. You assure him that you and Daddy are just fine and don't need his money. You thank him for his generosity and tell him the offer is amazingly kind. You try your best to explain the important things in life and you know you're not doing this perfectly and that no parenting book in whole wide world can prepare you for these conversations. The ones that happen without an ounce of preparation and at unexpected times. Conversations that can effect your child for the rest of his life. So you pause, and you try and you struggle and you pray and you do your best to shape this human being that God has entrusted in your care. You feel amazingly inadequate and overwhelmed by the enormity of this responsibility and wonder how in the world you can ever be equipped for moments such as these.

You get up, thank God for this lesson your 6 year old has, unbeknownst to him, given you. You thank the Lord for this sweet precious child and you thank Him for helping you through this moment. You turn the coffee maker on, clean up the breakfast consumed, and begin your day not knowing what this wild ride of parenting will throw at you next, trusting in Him that you will only be the wiser and better for it, wherever it takes you.

shared with:
Simple BPM


  1. Oh, Erin. I'm totally crying big fat tears over here. I love how the Spirit penetrated his little heart and how generosity overflowed from his mouth. What a gift you had that moment together. I'm so blessed to have read this today.

  2. You handled this just beautifully. I think God can send us such wisdom through children.

    Interestingly I have had the same kind of talk about delayed gratification and choosing what really matters with my high schooler and one of my college kids in the past 24 hrs. Some things never change!

  3. WOW

    I am so sleep deprived I can't say anything more eloquent.

    This is beauty and a reminder of how important our job is even when we are oh so tired and stressed and really now, your asking me this now.

    Thank you .

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