Running Out of Time (Have I Told Them Everything?)
My friend had a stroke (she's my age) and I'm not sure if it's that or the fact that it's spring and I've discovered all three of my children can now officially hold their own bubbles without immediately spilling the entire container wholesale, but these grubby, sticky kids are practically in college next year and I'm just wondering--have we told them everything?
Other than that time mommy got pulled over for speeding, my children remember nothing.
What Do They Remember?
They forget everything. If you ask our three-and-a-half-year-old to look for his shoes, he will walk into the next room, stand for a beat, and then walk back and tell us he's hungry. Goldfish literally can hold onto a memory longer.
My husband and I tell my children a lot of things, during the course of a day. Things like: flushthetoiletwashyourhandsstopjumpingonthecouch, stoptouchingthewallgetthatoutofyourmouth, pickupyourshoesfindyourshoeswhereareyourshoesputyourshoesonputyourfootinthisshoenowWHEREAREYOUMOTHEREFFINGSHOES (just kidding on that last one), closethedoorclosethedoorclosethedoor, stopslammingthedooryouregoingtocrushyourbrothersfingers, washyourhairgetoutoftheshoweryouhavetwomoreminutesbeforeIturnthewateroff, noyoucan'tgooutside, noyoucan'twatchanothershow, noyoucan'thavecandy, nonononononononono, hurrynowletsgonowhurryhurryhurryhurry
I figure that if we've told them to FLUSHTHETOILET once, we've told them three hundred times. Yet, I'ved learned to walk by their bathroom several times a day to flush the toilet because otherwise it never gets flushed.
My route looks like this: bathroom to flush the toilet, kitchen table to PUTTHELIDSBACKONTHEMARKERS, and the living room couch to PUTTHEAPPLECORESINTHETRASH. Repeat. Clearly, we haven't told them to flush the toilet enough. And if three hundred repeated instructions aren't enough for them to remember an eternally inconsequential little flick of the wrist, are we telling them the important things in life often enough?
Are we telling our daughter that she's an Esther who moves the heart of God with her beauty? Are we telling her she's going to be a Rahab with bravery that is clutch?
Are we telling our oldest son that he's a preparer of the way? A healer? A hope-giver?
Are we telling our youngest son that he's a man after God's own heart? A repairer of the breach? A restorer of streets to dwell in?
Are we telling them they are God's glory? Living stones? Kingdom-building, giant-slaying, life-giving children of the day?
Our kids are at that age now when other people are starting to tell them to be kind and to stop running with scissors, so the burden is less on us to make sure they reach adulthood without being run over by a car or dying of some weird flu they picked up when they licked the cart at Walmart. But I don't feel better about this, I feel more anxious.
If you drew up a pie chart and ticked off the percentage of time we spent telling them not to pick their noses and the percentage of time we spent telling them the things that really mattered--I'd just eat the pie.
Mrs. Burke, my son's first grade teacher, has been a teacher a long time, and she can tell my son that his handwriting is getting better and that he cannot go back and get his lunch because he should have remembered it but she cannot tell him that he's gold inside because she doesn't know.
She might think nice things about him and see him in a light that we can't but she doesn't know. We know. We are his parents, and we know. We know he's gold. Nobody knows like we know.
My children are living in this tiny sliver of their lives where their dad and I are the loudest voices in their ears. People tell you if you blink you'll miss it and I haven't slept in the last seven years but I did try to take that one nap that one time and now--the sand is almost gone. My last bite of my sliver is about to get eaten. The curtains are falling.
But We Know
Any ol' (super helpful) stranger can tell our kids to brush their hair before they leave the house, but nobody can tell them how they're world-changers like we can tell them, because when we tell them it becomes true. It's like a prophecy that has to come true because we're their parents and what we say about them comes true. When other people say it, they're agreeing with us or they're agreeing with what they've already seen in our children, but we can say it before it even exists. We speak it into existence for them. Because we know, and nobody knows like we know.
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