They get wonderful reviews from babysitters, family members and school. Well behaved, sweet, helpful, cooperative. All the things we are trying to instill in them.
But sometimes it feels like we rarely see that from them. We get the meltdowns and attitudes. The tired and the whiney. Which makes us wonder how good of a job we are doing at raising our children.
Every once in a while though, we get a glimpse of the inner workings of their minds and hearts.
And we think, maybe we are doing it right after all.
Lily brought home a Thanksgiving placemat (complete with the turkey handprint--updated though with the fingers/feathers being rainbow colors) and on the back her teacher had written what she was thankful for. I'm sure this was a prompt and Lily had help with her list.
Lily was thankful for: mommy and daddy, my sisters, and cheese.
Yes, cheese. My 2 year old loves her some cheese. Of the string or sharp cheddar variety. And thanks to Costco and Bean, we are Tillamook Sharp Cheddar snobs. My kids won't even eat other brands and definitely not medium cheddar cheese. I didn't used to like cheese all that much. Until Bean and I were together and he introduced me to sharp cheddar. I found out what I had been missing.
Bean would say this is absolutely a sign that we are raising our children right.
On a deeper level though...
Miss Rose brought home a Thanksgiving letter she wrote to us. I know that her class is currently working on letter-writing and this was an opportunity to practice those skills.
Here's the first few lines of the letter:
Dear Family, I am writing to thank you for all you did in my life time. Thank you for introducing me to God and leting him come into my life. (spelling hers)
And there you have it.
My daughter goes to a public school (which she thanks us later in the letter for paying for her to attend...I suppose we do pay in the form of taxes). And the first thing she thought of to thank us for was raising her to love God. It was not coerced or suggested. That was her legitimate first thought.
We must be doing something right. She watches TV and listens to some songs on the radio. We don't shelter her and we don't even do devotions with her every day. But we do pray. And listen to worship. And talk about God.
And she goes to church every Sunday. And most Wednesdays. Yes, I'm a pastor--so this is kind of a given. But even if I weren't a pastor, this would be our routine. The community of faith is so important to me. It was crucial and incredibly influential in my life and I trust it will be the same for my children. Bean and I are primarily responsible for raising our children and for investing in their spiritual lives. I would never leave that to Sunday School alone. However, being a church-going family shows our children how important God is to us and the reinforcement of principles and scripture and Bible stories have great value.
If you are a nursery worker, Sunday School teacher, or children's volunteer...thank you. For investing in my children.
Miss Rose also thanked us for tucking her in at night, for some of her belongings (bike, scooter) that she really likes and for grilled cheese on the bread she likes (sourdough!)
Things in our home aren't always perfect. We lose our tempers sometimes. We yell sometimes. We can be inconsistent. But we are real. We apologize to our children when necessary. We confess we don't have it figured out. We tell them how much we love them and how serious we take our role as their parents and that God has entrusted us with them.
Earlier this week we had a knock-down drag out with Miss Rose when we wouldn't allow something she really wanted. I tried to explain to her that I had to trust what God put in my heart when it comes to important decisions for my children. It didn't make much of a difference to her. But she's listening. It may not have changed her feelings in that moment, but I know it matters.
Thank you God, for these glimpses. I may take a photo of her letter and save it on my phone for future reference when I'm at my wit's end.