A few days ago, I was driving with Collier in the car. As is often my luck, we got behind someone going about 10 miles an hour below the speed limit. All the sudden Collier yells out, “Come on and move it you ding dong.” So often I don’t see myself in him but, all of the sudden, in his angry outburst there I was.
I knew without a doubt where he had learned his impatience for other drivers; I could see that teacher staring back at me in the rearview mirror. Oh, I could have tried to make myself feel better by pointing out that at least the worst insult he could come up with was “ding dong”; I mean that could have been MUCH worse. Or that he hadn’t been wrapped up in the world inside his head and had actually been paying enough attention to notice we were going slower than we should have been (and if I’m completely honest I am a little happy about that one 😊).
But at the end of the day, I was so disappointed in myself. Some of my goals as a parent include teaching my child empathy, love, kindness, and patience. And there inside one sentence and ten seconds, I could see exactly how big I had blown it. Now I had talked about those things, and even prepared some character trait lessons over the years that included them. But obviously, when I get behind the wheel of a car, all of those things apparently escape me. Right there in front of my eyes was a living, breathing example of “kids learn what they see” and not what they hear.
So, now what? Well, first I have to forgive myself. Even though I know that as long as I’m on earth I’ll be making mistakes, it’s a different kind of failure when it involves your kiddo. Then I’ve got to start living out all of those traits I want to see in my son. Not just talk about them, or teach them, but LIVE them.
And not just give them lip service. Kids are too smart for that. They can recognize hypocrisy a thousand miles away. But like Romans 12:9 tells us “Love must be sincere.” I have to plant them into my heart so deep, they flow out in every situation. That regardless of what happens around me, even if the person in front of me at the grocery store writes a CHECK (seriously people what is this 1986??), I respond with patience and a smile.
Now usually in January I would be setting goals for the year that revolve around the scale and my jeans size (and yeah, I probably still need these), but I think this year my goals are going to revolve around my heart. I want to see myself reflected in my son when he shows mercy, not cruelty. When he reacts with empathy, not apathy. When he displays patience, not frustration. I know this won’t be a goal that is marked quickly off the to-do list, but I also know I don’t just have to depend on my strength alone to reach this one.
Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.” Boy, I’m not sure he realizes how much help I need. Well, actually he absolutely does but he promised, so I’m taking him up on it. Anyone else out there needing to work on their heart this year as well? I feel like this year may be the year that empathy, love, kindness, and patience are needed more than any other. And even if meeting my goal for the year doesn’t change the entire world, as long as it changes Collier’s actions it will be all worth it. That will change my ouch into overjoyed.