Today, after one kid kicked another kid for beating him in basketball (Wii basketball, no less), I told the kids to get their shoes on; we were leaving. I didn’t tell them where we were going, despite their incessant whining that I do so. I told them we were going “with the flow.” That was all the information I gave them. They hated it. It was probably 72* out, but you would have thought I was putting them through their paces in the Sahara. We only walked about a mile and a half (and my youngest was chillaxed in her stroller), but it was made to feel much longer because of the constant questioning of where we were headed. I begged, pleaded, and probably snapped at them to just trust me and to go with the flow.
We ended at Starbucks, where I treated them to sugar-laden drinks and snacks that we enjoyed outside. While we sat, I asked them if the “long” walk was worth it. They agreed that it was. Then I asked them if they liked surprises, or if they like having all the information beforehand. They barely hesitated before answering, “Having all the information.”
Well of course they do. They’re my children, after all, and I’m notorious for my dislike of surprises.
I decided then and there to respect them in that, and to share my plans with them whenever I can. Especially as we begin the #summerofsteger2015, where we do away with schedules and routines and spend our days “going with the flow.” It would be torture for me to be told to “go with the flow” when all I want is just to know what’s ahead. How can I prepare my expectations if I don’t know what’s coming?
Obviously, there’s more than one lesson in there for me. I want my children to relax and trust me. I want them to know that I have good things in store for them. How much more so can I relax and trust Yahweh, and know that He has good things in store for me. But the other lesson is to treat my kids with respect and to stop being such an uptight dictator: “It’s my way or the highway, kids.” It’s to take the time to speak to the heart of each child, showing them love and care in the ways they need. It’s not to demand trust, it’s to be faithful to my word so that they learn from experience that they can trust me. It’s to share information with them whenever I can, and to throw in a couple of surprises to keep it interesting.
I also need to chillax and go with the flow myself and enjoy my kids. They’re actually pretty amazing companions when they’re not hanging out with an uptight jerk of a mom. I tend to be a homebody, not trusting my kids’ capability to act like human beings worthy of being seen in society. They pleasantly surprised me today. We actually extended our time out and grabbed some lunch before we walked back home.
On the way back, my oldest asked why it felt like the walk home was so much easier and faster than the walk there. I explained to him that it was partly because he knew where we were we going. He had all the information he needed to just go with the flow.