What the trouble is and Who’s is it anyways?!

Having kids is great. Especially if you like having a mirror held up in front of your face while you live life. The mirror image of what I say and how I act comes out in the words and behaviors of my kids. The images are particularly clear nowadays since Elijah is in the 5 year old super-literal phase and Andi is a vivacious communicator, ever ready to showcase any and all emotions so as to alert all others to the absolute ends of the spectrum of what one might possibly feel during any circumstance, mundane (can’t tear out a piece of paper) to extraordinary (“My ear is not working!”).

I digress a bit.

I like teaching. I myself love learning- taking information and turning new knowledge into transformation best I can. I also love teaching others. When I see my kids taking something we have taught them, deliberately or not, it’s mostly very exciting.

What follows is one example of what our kids have picked up on semantically by being in our family, and one example of a very deliberate lesson we are thrilled to see them implementing in their own lives, all by their little selves.

1. Into the environment of babes…out of the mouth of babes:

I heard Andi spontaneously crying in her room yesterday morning. I let it go for a bit thinking the Barbi would probably be found, the game would be turned back over and righted after a tumble from the closet, or she’d pull hard enough to get the shirt over her pigtails. I finally called from the kitchen, “What’s going on?”. Eli had been in the room with Andi and promptly arrived in the kitchen to report, “She doesn’t know what the trouble is Mom.”

This I recognized right away. When I come upon my kids as they are squabbling or fussing, I often say, “What’s the trouble?” or “What’s your trouble?”  The other question could be, “What’s wrong?” but I usually use “What’s the trouble?”. Yesterday morning, Eli had gone to see about screaming Andi and asked, “What’s the trouble?”. I’m assuming she replied, “I don’t know!” at which point he came to report to me, “She doesn’t know what the trouble is.” We would find out 36 hours later, the trouble was probably an ear infection, tearing apart her tolerance and tormenting her poor little body, but at the time, we dealt best we could even if no one quite knew the name of the trouble.

2. Passing on wisdom, life-lessons and hopefully a bit of Christ-likeness:

During an assignment at Castaway Club in 2010, I met a great family with three kids. I took from them a great bit of parenting wisdom and Christian theology and have tweaked it to be my own. The background is this: 1. Kids have a hard time sharing. 2. To solve a sharing problem, it sometimes helps to know who owns the item or the turn. 3. Sharing is a solid thing to do and should be taught to kids at a young age with relevant pedagogy.

About 2 years ago, Elijah and Andi started all-out sibling scuffs. They began to care about the same stuff and having it at the same time. They share a room and a dresser and a closet and most toys, but trouble began to brew. I entered into a heated discussion, of “It’s my ladder!”, “No it’s my ladder!” one day and dropped the stewardship bomb on my unsuspecting wee ones. I reminded Eli and Andi that we talk about God as the One who created everything and the One who gives us everything we need. They nodded. I then said, “Well that means that God owns everything. Everything in the world is God’s. What we have, we’ve received from God. Everything we have is a gift. It’s our job then, to take care of our stuff or share it”

In short form, it’s like this:

Me:”E and A, who really owns that ladder?”

E or A: “God”

Me: “So what’s your job?”

E or A: “To take care of it and share it”

They caught on pretty quick. Now, it’s put into action far more often by the two of them than by Drew or me. The other day I heard Eli tell Andi to put something in his room. She said, “It’s my room too Eli. Actually, it’s God’s room, and we share it”. Again later, I asked if they wanted to play Andi’s new game, “It’s God’s game Mommy. We take care of it”.

There are sharing struggles almost daily around our house, tranquility and selflessness evade us most days. However, the teaching is sticking somewhere in there and I can only hope they grow up to steward all their gifts with a mentality that what they have is not truly their own, and that they are indebted to take thoughtful care and intentionally share with the people and the world around them, even if, and especially when, it’s uncomfortable. Of course, every time I teach this lesson or hear it happening in the next room, I’m reminding myself of my need to grow, care, and share more faithfully.

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