I sure do love him, despite wanting to smack my head on the desk from time to time.
A friend watched my boy interact with me not long ago. He remarked, “He’s good for you. He’s teaching you patience.” I’m not sure I agree. I should be concentrating on patience, but sometimes, in fact, far too often, I fall well short. I don’t know how many bits of scripture pop into my head about the need for patience. Romans-12:12, Ephesians-4:2, Proverbs-15:18, Ecclesiastes-7:9, and the likes are but a few.
Yet, I can’t seem to master it. Combine my shortcomings with a young male pup that is very different from me and we clash occasionally. I’m a metaphorical guy in many senses. I often think and speak in metaphorical senses. My son? He’s completely literal.
We were pulling weeds this morning in order to help make something more pleasing to Mommy’s eye. Sissy and I did the heavy lifting, and what was left was the gravy as I say… All my son had to do was go along and pick up the weeds we’d yanked and tossed, place them in the UTV bed, and we’d be done.
As my son muttered under his breath that “work is silliness” my hackles grew. I don’t like doing this stuff any more than the next guy, but if it must be done, knuckle down, work hard, and be done with it, right? Knowing this just isn’t the way children often see things, so I kept my umbrage in check.
As my son walked by with one straggly dried stalk of a weed in one hand, and nothing in the other, I became irritated.
Me: Son, how many hands do you have?
Son: (In a subdued voice) Two.
Me: How many are you using now?
Me: Will you change that?
Son: (Immediately looks at the dried stalk and puts his other hand on it, essentially grasping it in front like a bar with both little mitts.) There.
Me: I’d rather you carried something in each hand, sir. This will be concluded much quicker.
Son: (Without a beat, he snaps the stalk in half keeping a piece in each hand, then looks up at me smiling.) Is that better, Daddy?
Me: (Finding myself someplace between infuriation and hysterical laughter, I responded.) Yes, let’s pick up a separate weed with each hand next time. It’ll be far more efficient. Do you agree?
Too often, I’d have become critical of him too soon and chomped him for his actions. This one played out quickly, and while I was irritated initially, it was cute and typical of my son. I also had to hide my face so he didn’t see me nearly burst into a full guffaw. It truly was hilarious to behold.
When I think about how a Dad is supposed to guide his son, I think about two things. One is how my Dad handled me. Which was pretty darned good, considering I wasn’t a well-behaved kid. Two is how the Good Book lays out instruction, teaching, and overall behavior. After all, active instruction is part of it. The rest kids pick up, especially sons, by simply watching what Dad says, does, and also what he doesn’t say or do.
I’ve got work to do on myself. Much work. But I’ve been given plenty of good examples by my Dad, and I’ve also been handed an instruction manual, so how hard could this parenting thing be? Right? If I stay in the Word, I’ll do better and so may my son as he gleans behavior from me.
When you’ve got a boy like mine, you should be prepared for a wild ride. But it has thus far been a loving one, and that tends to soften my otherwise reactive nature. Thank you, God, for giving me what I need, rather than what I want.
May you all be both salt and light in a culture with too little of either. I’m praying I may be both.