A few weeks ago, my wife went out for dinner with her friends, so Rooney and I got to hang out just the two of us. I picked her up from day care, and when we got home we went on a long walk in the stroller before going inside for supper. After she was finished she wanted to go outside again. (It is her favorite thing lately.)
She had just started walking on her own a few days prior, and was still racing around the house with her walker on occasion. Usually when we are outside we either hold her or she is in her stroller. But I thought it was time to let her walk around outside on her own. But the cement is such a scary thing for a dad with a daughter who walks around like Frankenstein, so I brought her walker outside for some stability and comfort, for both her and I.
She absolutely loved being able to walk around outside. Up and down the sidewalk we went - Rooney walking, so proud of herself, and me following closely behind, sharing in the joy. And then we had to learn about boundaries...
Kids have pretty simple minds. If they see something they want, they go for it - they put it in their mouth, throw it, run into it, bang on it and so on. And as Rooney was walking down the sidewalk she came to a driveway that led to the street via a slight decline, and she thought it would be fun to run down it. This is where I had to step in and redirect her path.
She doesn't know yet the dangers that await in the street. We haven't taught her about them until now. She also can't comprehend why it's dangerous. There were no cars traveling on our quiet street at the time, but she needs to learn that she can't simply run into the street. I proceeded to redirect her walker back onto the sidewalk where it was safe. Over and over again. She would swing her walker toward the street and I would steer it back toward the sidewalk.
There were a few moments of whining, and then some giggling as she thought it was a game, but I was consistent and persistent.
I tell you this story for two reasons that I didn't realize until well after that beautiful spring evening with Rooney on the sidewalk.
- Being a parent is super challenging. (OK, maybe I kind of knew this before.) It takes a lot of patience, persistence and willpower to say the same things over and over again, especially when the kid doesn't seem to comprehend. But we must be persistent. We must continue to show them how much we love them by protecting them from things that can hurt them. My parenting journey is just beginning, but I'm going to predict that this only gets tougher as they get bigger and smarter.
- Perspective. I'm ever grateful for the times my parents didn't let me do things that they knew would hurt me. I may have acted out in anger at the time, but now I can look back with a grateful spirit knowing they were doing what was best for me even though I didn't know better at the time.
- More perspective. God must be smiling at my revelation, because he must feel this way about us all the time, constantly trying to redirect our path and keep us within the boundaries of the sidewalk.
"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." Proverbs 22:6
What have you learned from your parents or your children lately?