Today's post was written by Shannon McKee. You can find her blogging here.
I’m watching him from across the atrium. Observing the way he moves through the room. A smile plays across his face as he talks to different people. Old, young, man woman, adult, teenager, black, white, blue collar, white collar, inner city, suburb… it doesn’t matter. Truth be told, it’s been like this for as long as I can remember. Caleb striking up a conversation with the janitor on the way out of school. Caleb slowing down in the hallway to talk with the young man in leg braces. Caleb holding the door for an elderly woman and looking her in the eye as she passes through. It’s a gift, really. This way he can converse with all kinds of people.
It’s important for me to stop and really look at him in these moments. To appreciate the way God has wired him and gifted him uniquely. Because raising him has been a challenge that has stretched me to my breaking point at times. To call him a strong-willed kid would be an understatement.
Why God gave me a child who is prone to question authority and push all the boundaries is beyond me. Me, the girl who got called goody-two-shoes through much of middle school. Me, the girl who hides from conflict. Me, the girl who kept her grades high and pretty much always did what she was told. Mind you, it wasn’t because I always had good motives. It just never occurred to me to do some of the things my boy has tried. Or to challenge authority figures the way he does.
Over the years, his teachers have consistently told us that they expect him to do great things. “He’ll be a worldchanger.” “He’s the kind of kid that will fight hard against injustice because he’s willing to go against the grain.” “I fully expect him to be president someday.” Which are all strange kinds of things to hear when you’re just trying to get him through high school in one piece. Or you’re back in the principal’s office for another “discussion” about something that happened at school. In those moments, it feels like he’s the one who CAUSED the injustice!
For me it’s created a kind of dissonance in my soul that I don’t always understand. All my good parenting strategies have been tossed out the window. Because I’m learning that raising kids isn’t a formula. Oh, the books would like to tell you otherwise. They tell you that “if you do xyz, you’ll get this kind of kid.” Don’t believe me? Take a survey of all the books and mom-blogs out there with their “how-to” strategies and lists. And, if your parenting experience isn’t fitting into that ideal, it can leave you feeling a little disillusioned and weary. In fact, it’s downright exhausting. In many ways, I’m more tired now than I was in those crazy toddler years as I constantly question myself when I am alone with my thoughts. The stakes seem so high now as adulthood is around the corner.
How do you find refreshment in that kind season? For me, the refreshment has come in letting God wreck some of my expectations. Like totally obliterate them. For instance, my categories. What do we mean when we talk about “good” kids or “bad” kids? Or my definition of success. When are we proud of our kids? Why?
The beauty of it is that the wrecking brings a kind of humility that leads to freedom. The sweet freedom of not having it all together. There’s a kind of surrender in that. Of throwing up your hands and saying, “wow, this has thrown me for a loop a little bit and I’m not really sure what to do.”
As you do, you’ll find yourself looking across the atrium at your kid and really seeing him for who he is. Not necessarily what you expected but knit-together with intent by our Creator God.
That moment is a really beautiful thing.