“Mom, can you play video games with me?” There it was. That ever-dreaded question I hear all too often. My 5-year-old son, Alex, loves to play video games. I, on the other hand, can’t stand them. Mostly because I can’t seem to work the controller and pay attention to what’s going on in the game at the same time. (Insert walking and chewing gum joke here.)
“I’m really busy right now, Alex,” I replied, hoping he’d buy it. “Plus, you know I’m not real good at playing those games.” “It’s OK, Mom. I’ll show you how,” he responded, his big blue eyes staring right at me.
For some reason, Alex’s words seemed particularly poignant to me during Advent. I can’t help but wonder if, thousands of years ago, as they cuddled Jesus in that manger, if Mary and Joseph could have ever imagined what their son would teach them and so many others. I know when I first gave birth to my kids, I couldn’t imagine that. But at the same time, I often find myself unwilling to stop and let them teach me. And I’m not quite sure why.
I’m always in awe when I read or witness acts by children that teach me on so many levels. You know what I’m talking about: the stories about young kids donating their birthday money to charity or selling lemonade for a good cause.
Each time I hear one of those stories, I’m stopped in my tracks. But I shouldn’t be. In Isaiah 11:6, haven’t we heard time and time again of “a little child to guide them”? So why don’t we listen? Maybe we’re too busy. Maybe it’s because we think we know better than kids. Maybe we’ve become too cynical and pessimistic that something like a lemonade stand could make a difference. Or maybe it’s because we just haven’t given kids the opportunity to teach us.
This month as we celebrate the birth of Christ, perhaps we should take some time and rejoice in the joy and hope that a child can bring to us—and be open to what that child might teach us. Here are some suggestions to help:
■ Be a follower. Our kids can teach us a lot if we let them. Watch and listen to your kids. See what they can teach you about things such as friendship, honesty, enjoying the moment, etc. Often, adults try to pass cynicism off as realism. Look to kids for a true example of realism.
■ Let go of control. As hard as it is to admit sometimes, our way is not necessarily the only way or the right way to do things. Let your children figure out their own way of doing things—within reason. For instance, I’m sure Mary was not too happy when
Jesus disappeared during their trip to the Temple (Luke 2:41-51).
■ Say yes sometimes. As I said before, I’m not a fan of video games. But the one time I did say yes to Alex and played with him, we had a lot of fun. I even beat the one part of his game that he had been struggling with—don’t ask me how—earning me hero status in his eyes for quite some time.
■ Look at the big picture. While I may not get another load of laundry done or the dishwasher loaded because I took the time to play with my kids, I will get more in return. They’re only going to be young once. I need my kids to remind me to take those time-outs.
■ Show your support. Not all kids receive the type of love and nurturing that they need to display their Godgiven talents. Encourage those children that you do know, and pray for those you don’t. Support organizations that help children achieve their full potential.