Warning: this is a post about parenting. Shepherding, really, is a word that I prefer as “parenting” has been used to describe anything and everything that an individual deems helpful/useful, basically any interaction between a parent and a child is considered parenting and… right. So, I suppose I’ll abandon that word.
On Saturday, we took Ezra to the park. Josh has played catch with him before, but he’s never taught him how to hit. Possibly because Ezra’s five. Anyway, Saturday, we took his bat and ball and took to the GORGEOUS day. It took about four tries before he ever hit the ball. The amazing thing was that I learned a lot about his character. When his father told him to hold the bat a certain way, to stand a certain way and watch the ball – things he didn’t tell him immediately … hey, he’s never played baseball with a five year old, I assumed he sort of forgot that you start knowing absolutely nothing – Ezra hit a stride and hit it almost every time after that. I was pretty amazed at his learning curve.
One of the teaching moments that happened that day, though, occurred before he hit his stride. He got very discouraged and I could see that he was starting to tear up. He kept having to go retrieve the ball from behind him and basically was getting no pay off. He thought this game was going to be fun! I called him over and asked what the problem was – which of course was…he didn’t like feeling like he didn’t know what he was doing. (Pretty sure every adult can sympathize.) I told him I understood why he felt that way, but that he should continue to try – then I reminded him that nine months ago, he didn’t speak French. When he started attending French school, he didn’t understand what people were saying. The most exciting part of life is that we’re not born with information already installed. If we want to do something new, we get to learn something new. It’s what makes life stimulating and it’s through those adventures that we find out what is important to us and what we want to do with our lives. I was so proud of him for listening and then returning to playing baseball with his dad (for hours).
When I got home, I saw a headline about P.Diddy spending $360,000 on a car for his 16-year old son. Apparently, people had strong reactions to that information. On the one hand, my thought was, “That’s…none of my business.” On the other hand, if I remove the names and think of it as “a father” (as in, any father) did this for his son, it does make me sad. Everyone says money is relative, “expensive” is relative, but that’s not true or relevant to this scenario. A lot of people holding strong opinions may have felt it was gratuitous and proud in such an economic time as the one facing the US. It may have been that their own financial woes influenced their thoughts. I can’t say – I didn’t read the article. But, when I think of what I want for my child, I can’t think of any justification, regardless of my income.
As a parent, I don’t want to remove the tension that will build my son’s character and reveal his purpose. The things he doesn’t know, the questions that will face him – I have no interest in and he gains nothing from my interrupting what should be an invaluable process. Our desires reveal our hearts, what we hold dear and how we are willing to proceed to get what we want. You learn so much from desire – even when the end result is not attaining what you first wanted. Oftentimes, through the process of focusing on and seeking a desire, we are changed. We’re led to the very purpose of our lives. God has beautifully instilled desires that should draw us closer to Him, in dependence and reverence. I wouldn’t refrain from buying my son a $360,000 car because the car is expensive and he will almost certainly not be prepared for that sort of responsibility. I would refrain because I am telling my son – at 16 – that his desires are satisfied on a whim, immediately. He need not sit with them, feel longing, determine their value. In this way, I am removing all of the opportunities for my son to develop a purpose, a goal, a character, a spiritual center. I am circumventing a system that God lovingly and omnisciently put into place that allows him to be stimulated and engaged and curious and driven about the world around him.
Does that one act do that? I don’t know – I doubt it. But it doesn’t bode well, let’s put it that way.