My son is 6 years old. He loves Tae Kwon Do and truly believes he will grow up to be a ninja some day. He therefore, watches the Mutant Ninja Turtle tv show everyday after school. So when his training facility planned a “Ninja Turtle Party” I thought “How awesome. He will just love that!” So I hurried up and made a reservation, like all good moms do, so he wouldn’t be left out of the fun.
The day came for the party and our family was just swamped with things that had to be done. So we divided in order to conquer these impossible to-do lists: my daughter and I went in one direction and my son went with my husband. After all, it was Saturday and we had to make sure that everyone’s list was accomplished.
Upon returning home late that evening, I asked my son how he enjoyed the party. He responded that he didn’t go.
I immediately became angry with my husband. Why didn’t he take him? Didn’t he know how important it was for our son to have this experience? Didn’t he understand that our son’s development as a ninja was hanging in the balance of attending this function? Did he not understand my instructions? How could he deprive our child of this wonderful experience? And how could he deviate from my carefully planned agenda for the day? Didn’t he know how hard I worked to make sure that everyone was getting to do exactly what they needed and wanted on this precious “free day?”
So I went to ask him all these questions. But I was smart. I didn’t immediately, attack him in my moment of hostility over the demise of my carefully planned day. I was calm and collected. So I asked, “Did you all have fun at the party today, dear?” He answered that they didn’t go. Now I had my opening. I was really going to let him have after my politically correct response, “Oh, why is that?” But his answer set me back such that I was left speechless.
“Well, I told him to get dressed so we could leave. But he asked if we could just have a boy’s afternoon together instead. So we played outside and then went to McDonald’s for lunch. It was fun.”
It never occurred to me that my son would choose to simply spend time at home with dad instead of having a great adventure.
I fear that, in my quest to give my children the best experiences, I often neglect their true desire to just be with us. I have seen it with my daughter, who is older. Sometimes she just wants to go home, eat popcorn and watch a movie. But she wants me to watch it with her. What is it that will stay with my children for the rest of their lives? The best and coolest experiences at every turn? Or the security and relationships built with just doing ordinary “stuff” with us?
The truth is, we are addicted to busy. Having something to do is always at the forefront of our home. And if I don’t actually have something cool and thrilling to do on a weekend, I go looking for something because that is my nature. My prayer today is that God will cure me of this obsession; that He will lead me to those things that are truly needful for my children. And that He will give me the good sense to see them and take advantage of them while I still have the opportunity.
I share this passage from “The Voice” version of the Bible. I have really come to like it and the way it makes scripture accessible in everyday life.
Fathers have a crucial role in instructing their sons. It’s easy and natural to teach children about some things: how to take care of a car, how to hit a ball, or how to mow the lawn. But what about deeper things, the kinds of things that make life worth living? These are much harder. They must not be left for someone else to do. Paul wrote, “And, fathers, do not drive your children mad, but nurture them in the discipline and teaching that come from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Instructing children in the ways of God is crucial work.
“My son, pay attention to all the words I am telling you.
Lean in closer so you may hear all I say.”