Michael and I were sitting on the couch having a conversation. All the kids were home. And we were having a conversation. Zachary was in the room with us. All of a sudden we heard from downstairs,
“Moooooooooooooom!!!!!! Someone clogged the toilet with SOOOOOO MUCH toilet paper!!”
Zachary stopped what he was doing, looked intently at both of us (somehow), and confessed,
“It was me……..accidentally” (which is an incredibly overused word in our home).
You know that feeling when you find an unexpected $5….nay, a $20 bill in your old coat pocket? This was exactly like that.
Michael and I locked eyes. Michael’s voice lifted an octave, “Zachary!! Did you wipe your own bottom????!??!?!?!?”
“Yes…” he replied tentatively.
“That is awesome!!!!” we both replied, holding hands and skipping. Fairy dust fluttered through the air. Angelic music and confetti filled the room simultaneously. I remember trumpets. I’m not sure that even learning to read gets so festive a celebration in our home.
Do you know what this means? We are henceforth relieved of bathroom duty!!! We have been in that business for the past 2,976 days. What will we do with all the extra time, you ask? Write a book. Invent something. Solve cancer. The possibilities seem endless.
These days, I say to my kids, “Kids, get in the car.” And they do it. Buckle and all.
They walk upstairs.
They cut food.
They brush teeth.
They put on shoes.
They zip, button, tie, unlock, lock, open, shut, close, turn off, turn on, cook…..things.
They’re growing up. We seem to have entered into a new phase of parenting, almost suddenly. Because my body was used as a jungle gym, a feeding system, a pillow, a home, and a carrier, I spent the first 8 years feeling drained and exhausted. Meeting the basic physical needs of my kids was an all consuming, all encompassing, incredibly rewarding existence.
And now we have moved into the emotionally challenging phase. There are constant arguments, explanations, exhortations, cautions, information, directions, discussions, and form completions.
Side note: Filling out forms may not be hard and emotional for some of you ultra-organized types who love to fill in a box, sign, seal, and deliver something. But for me…it’s pure torture. OH….with the ‘primary email address, secondary email…’ x 3 boys x 2 schools x 3 sports/season + the doctor’s office + the dentist. How many places could I possibly have to put my email address??? You know you won’t use it!! Next season/year/vaccination, you’ll print off a piece of paper and ask me to fill out a form! PLEASE…take the email OFF OF THE FORM, PROGRAM IT IN YOUR COMPUTER and just email me (CHOOSE EITHER MY PRIMARY OR SECONDARY) for crying out loud!! Keep my records ELECTRONICALLY! Why is paper even still a thing???
As they grow, we are navigating friendships, wrestling with theology, expecting self-control, and nurturing empathy. These are difficult concepts and we stumble through most of it. But in a very real and tangible way, our kids are growing and maturing. Their little beings embody little minds that have the most amazing, complex thoughts. They make predictions, assumptions, oppositions and decisions. They don’t always make the right ones. But when they make an automatic right decision, after having been wrong so many times before, it amazes me.
Our kids do not have independent access to any electronic device. We have to enter the password each time they play. The other day Nolan asked me to play his iPod. I agreed and he handed it to me. He immediately turned his head so I could enter the password secretly. There have been so many times when he tried teasingly to peek, or indiscreetly tried to figure it out. But this time, he just turned his head away. This is a small thing, but I almost cried.
I wonder if our heavenly Father is as pleased whenever we deny the flesh?
‘But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.’ Gal. 5:16-25.
When patience blossoms instead of outbursts of anger, peace instead of jealousy, kindness instead of selfish rivalries, goodness instead of hostility, self control instead of sexual immorality, and love instead of murder, we truly are living by the Spirit. Just as my kids are growing and maturing in front of my very eyes, so should I be ever growing in the Lord. Ever seeking to put away childish things and grasp for solid food in place of milk (Heb 5:12). May my thirst for Him be as for water in a desert land. May my pursuits all lead to knowing Him more intimately and making Him known to others. May I never be complacent in my walk with him, but growing all the more in His grace and knowledge (2 Pet 3:18). Amen.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to retrieve a Monopoly hotel from an unflushed toilet.
They’ve still got some growing to do.
And so do I.