There is a tricycle that you love to ride even though you can’t touch the pedals. The only way for you to ride with your brother and sister, is for me to stand on the back of the tricycle, lean over you to hold the handle bars, and push with one foot like a skateboard….You love it.
But recently, while we were out cruising the streets around our house, you kept pushing my hands away from the handle bars. You wanted to steer, and if you were going to steer, then I had to let go. But you weren’t ready for me to let go. I had already caught you several times to keep you from falling. You could barely sit in the seat and reach the handle bars, let alone steer. But you insisted, and when I wouldn’t let go, you threw a pretty impressive fit in the middle of the road.
While you were stomping your feet, my developing “parental brain” was running the calculations — evaluating the risk of letting you go your own way compared to the expected outcome, measured against the “show” you were putting on for people driving by our little “display”. In the end, I decided to steer….and you decided to fall down from the bike and flop like a fish….You didn’t like me very much in that moment.
This is something I’m learning about parents. Sometimes, parents think that getting their children to “like” them is the sign of a good parent. So instead of doing what they know is best for their children, they give them control, let them steer their lives before they are ready.
But Malina, Your Mommy and I love you too much to simply give you what you want, or to be just one of your friends. The responsibility that God has given us, is not simply to make you a friend, but to train you up, and guide you, and correct you. We’ve been told to help you grow and prepare, to challenge you, protect you, and celebrate all that you are becoming.
Eventually you got back on the tricycle, we made our way back home and you liked me again.
Eventually, I know I will have to let you steer, and fall down…on tricycles and in life. With God’s help, your Mommy and I will do all that we can to prepare you to live a life loving God, other people, and the world around you. And as your friends, we will walk with you every step of the way, for as long as we can.
Next Friday my “Letters to My Children” series will move to its own site. I hope you will make plans to check it out, invite others and follow along.