2 Samuel 15:30-31 (NIV)We had a brief moment of parental crisis a few weeks ago at the chiropractor’s office, and I was reminded of the fleeting fear tonight. There’s a wall-mounted monitor running a slideshow on a loop. Each slide either touts the benefit of chiropractic care or the potential downfalls of conventional medicine, or more specifically the culture of using pharmaceutical products to treat everything vaccines don’t present. That debate is a matter for another forum, but it’s relevant to the story.
But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. Now David had been told, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.”
This month, among the cycle of slides are a series of several listing the number of reasons for which people turn to a drug: to have a baby, to avoid having a baby, to stay awake, to go to sleep, to lose weight, to mask a nagging pain. Kristie and I paid passing attention to each slide, preferring instead to speak to each other. And then came the slide that portrayed an embarrassed man and a frustrated woman. It was on the screen for five or ten seconds, long enough for Jack to say, “I don’t get it — how can a drug help make love?”
One of the benefits of being in a relationship with the same person for 15 years is the ability to know the look on their face without actually turning to see them. After the typical means of nonverbal communication, I quickly decided to offer a complete non-answer: “It’s kind of complicated, Jack.” And fortunately, that was all I needed to say. Happily, the slide changed, Jack lost interest in the discussion and Kristie and I were left to reminisce on how much easier was before he learned to read.
Some day we’re going to have to explain these things to him and his brothers. If Max were the oldest, and had seen his mom be pregnant three times, I’m sure we’d have had at least one discussion by now. Some folks advise you start the talks around age eight or nine, and the logic I’ve heard behind that reasoning is sound, but it hasn’t felt right for us.
As we get ready to send Jack off to fourth grade and Max to kindergarten, I’m starting to calculate the number of hours each day and week they’ll be absent from our direct supervision and influence. I am thankful for teachers and school staff and bus drivers and scared all to pieces about the things that come from the mouths of other kindergarten and fourth-grade students. I would hope our boys will see the counsel of their peers as foolishness compared to what Mom and Dad can offer, but I realize that’s pretty unlikely.
So off into the wild we send them, hoping and praying for the best, all the while discussing the type of information we should be giving them, at what pace and under what circumstances. In some ways I’d rather commit myself fully to toilet-training the two-year-old and ignoring the reality of the big kids getting bigger, but I know that’s not how parenting works. So I’m in search of more than a little courage, patience, wisdom and strength to do what needs to be done to help my guys grow into Godly young men.
And maybe a little less prompting form our friends at the chiropractor’s office.
A prayer for August 15:
Lord, I have tried to be fully grateful for the blessings and responsibilities of parenthood, but I have to admit some challenges loom larger than others. Please be with me through all the hills we must climb along this journey. Help me to guide my children appropriately and respectfully into adulthood. Give me the tools I need to love them as you would have me do that they may grow to be able to completely give their love to the people in their lives, and to learn to let you guide them as well. Amen.