Friday, July 27, 2007

Life With Two Kids, Day Four

I have been so amazed at how this week has progressed. At the beginning of the week, I thought that having more than one child while still being a relatively calm person was an impossible feat. Now, a few days later, I am back to thinking that it is altogether do-able. Andy is probably dubious since I am still rather frazzled by the time he gets home from work, but I know that the way I feel today and the way I felt three days ago are worlds apart. And this is very good news for me.

As I predicted, my house has suffered greatly this week, although not as much as I originally thought. Three days ago I was waiting for federal officials to show up and declare us a disaster area. Today...well, it's not clean, but the dishes and laundry are done, and that makes me happy. are some lessons I have learned:

  1. Children respond well to consistency. (Okay, so I knew that before, but it has been confirmed over and over again this week.)
  2. Lucky Charms and milk are a disgusting combination.
  3. Children think that Lucky Charms are wonderful. (Elise, having never had a cereal more sugary than Yogurt Burst Cheerios, immediately dubbed the Lucky Charms "candy cereal".)
  4. My husband is really, really good with kids. (I already knew this one, too, but it also has been confirmed repeatedly this week.)
  5. The concerns and trials of a child are just as valid and just as heavy as those of an adult, no matter how insignificant they may seem to an adult's mind.

#5 is something I've thought about a lot. It's so easy for us adults to belittle or ignore the problems of children. We know that in the long run, a broken toy is meaningless; a dead goldfish is inconsequential; an embarrassing moment on the playground is just a part of growing up. We think that children should enjoy their childhoods while they can, because once they become adults they will have real problems. If problems were on a spectrum, we would see a child's problem at the low value end and our own problems at the high value end.

But then I think of God's perspective. What must our "real", adult problems look like to God? A broken marriage; a deceased loved one; an irreparable career mistake. What do these problems look like from God's perspective? I suspect that the spectrum looks vastly different from heaven. I don't believe there would be any differentiation between the problems of children and the problems of adults.

I don't think that our problems are insignificant to God. I believe that He, as a perfect and loving Father, cares deeply about the concerns of our lives. But I think that the 20 or 40 or 60 years that separates us from our children are insignificant. I don't believe that He takes the sorrow that a child experiences over a dead fish any less seriously than He takes the sorrow that an adult feels over the death of a friend. (That is not to say that the roots of the sorrows are equivalent - certainly a person is more valuable than a goldfish.) I also think that our "big" problems present no more of a challenge to Him than the "small" problems of our children do. God can heal a broken marriage more easily than I can fix a broken toy. In the big scheme of things, from now until eternity, my problems would not even be a smidgen past a child's problem on the spectrum. God, Who sees everything across all eternity, can see the solution and the end of my problem even more clearly than I can see the solution and end to my child's problem.

Last night Anthony told me that he had been hit in the chest by a soccer ball at sports camp, and that it hurt and knocked his breath out of him for a second. He told me that he cried because it hurt, but he tried really hard to not let the coaches or other kids see that he was crying. His biggest concern was not that he was hurt; it was that he was embarrassed. I found his story to be sweet and sad, and of course I know that in the long run, his few seconds of embarrassment on the soccer field are inconsequential. But last night, that was the most important thing to Anthony. It worried him and occupied his thoughts. Andy and I have had our own trials recently. They have worried me and occupied my thoughts. Are my trials any bigger, any more important in God's eyes than Anthony's trials? I really don't think so.

These thoughts have had a twofold effect on my life. First, I have a greater appreciation for the concerns of a child. There is a bit of a joke in children's ministry that refers to how frequently those who work in children's ministry pray for grandmas and cats. It's true. I've worked with children from birth through junior high, and as soon as they can talk, their prayer requests are for grandparents and pets. As they move closer to junior high, the requests start to include friends, usually friends who have offended them in some way. "I want to pray that they would, umm, not be so mean anymore." Praying down the prayer request list on my own later in the week is always interesting. Cat, cat, grandma, toe, cat, cat, math test, hamster. I find myself having to first pray that God would honor each child's request despite my own flippancy and cynicism. So the idea that the concerns and problems of a child are every bit as serious and valid to God as my own concerns and problems helps me to take a child's concerns and problems seriously. To say that my own are bigger, more important, seems rather elitist. We all have our cross to bear, and a child's cross is just as heavy on their shoulders as my cross is on mine.

Second, these thoughts have given me a greater appreciation for the way that God treats my concerns. I picture Him looking upon me and my problems as a loving Father whose heart goes out to me because He recognizes my sorrow or disappointment or fear; and at the same time He can see the solution and/or end to the problem, and will guide me to that solution or end if I will trust Him.

Well, I certainly didn't mean to ramble on and on about these things. It's just something I've thought about frequently in the years that I've worked with children, and Anthony's soccer accident last night reminded of it yet again. Today is our last full day with Anthony, so I'd better go enjoy his company while I can!

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