“Home is the place where life makes up its mind,” our pastor said in a message last month. “It’s where our view of ourselves is shaped. It’s where we learn how to do relationships.”
If you’re a parent, my guess is you don’t have to think back very far to come up with an example of what you really don’t want to be teaching your kids but probably are. This evening it emerged in a conversation about clothes. Though our five-year-old has several shirts in his wardrobe, he has deemed only two of them to be cool enough to wear on a regular basis. (Yes, he’s five. Someone please tell me this is a phase.) I took him to the store last week and found a third that is acceptable by both our standards, but three t-shirts still can all find themselves in the “to be washed” pile in under a week. Then, “When are you going to wash clothes, mommy?” is the question of the hour. And when he asked it this evening, my response was anything but loving, shall we say. This is where our boys learned to raise their voices when upset.
It’s enough to make one feel defeated. But then there are times when the results aren’t quite so depressing.
“Where are we going mommy?” my younger son asked as we were driving toward the airport.
“We’re going to meet our new friends,” I said. The family from Burma was flying in after 20 years of waiting in a Thai refugee camp. And they had just completed two days of travel, but they smiled and used the English words they know: thank you.
“I don’t want to go there,” my older son complained a week later. “It smells funny.” We went anyway. We took the father of the family to the post office to get their mailbox key. Then my boys brought in their toy dinosaurs. They showed little Friday Soe how to roar like a dinosaur – in case he didn’t already know. They decided it would be fine to give him one of the dinosaurs to keep. They learned that when you’re two or three or five years old, there’s no real language barrier. I hope they also learned that sometimes loving your neighbor is just showing up to help with the small things.