“Have you noticed that your son makes a lot of noises?”
My son’s teacher questioned me a few weeks into the school year, her head tilted and eyebrows raised. My eyes popped open wide, aghast as I tried to imagine what sort of bodily sounds might be slipping out of his little person during school hours. As my mind organized my thoughts to catch up with the conversation, I realized she was not referring to gaseous exports but she meant his tendency to imitate moving objects. Yes, in fact, he did have a tendency to make what I call “boy noises.” And yes she was correct that he made them loudly . . . and often.
“Um, you mean like helicopters and blasting sounds and rumbling trucks? Yes, uh yes, I have noticed.” (Translation: “Duh, I live with the kid!”)
I thought the conversation was comical and I repeated it to my husband that night giggling. “I mean, he is a boy for goodness sake!”
It was not nearly as funny, however, a few weeks later when I got a report that my son had been physical with another child at school. The wind was sucked out of my stomach. I wish I could say I took it in stride and we had happy, healthy conversation about it at home and then moved on. But the truth was that I was horrified. When we enrolled our children in school originally, my husband and I had committed that we would be a source of encouragement and support at the school and that our family would always work to be a joy and light to others. And here was my little guy being the source of a problem. How did he forget everything our family was about?
As I poured out my heart to a mama friend, expressing my embarrassment and my disappointment, she gently comforted with a sweet reminder.
“Be careful not to impose your thirty-something years of spiritual maturity on to a five-year-old.” It was one of those stop-you-in-your tracks statements. What an incredible reminder to offer grace to my little boy!
While my children can certainly be positive influences in their community, I must be careful to not put expectations on them that are beyond their maturity. One of my favorite Oswald Chambers quotes is, “Let God be as original with other people as He was with you.” And, of course, it would also be true that we should be as patient with our kids and God is with us.
God has done His refining work in me for many years and He has much more work to do (stop nodding your head in agreement!). It is only fair that I extend the same grace and patience to my children.
My little guy and I did eventually have that happy, healthy conversation about the school situation . . . and a few more to follow. It has been a wonderful opportunity to talk together about how we can be sources of joy and encouragement in all circumstances. We continue to have ongoing conversations about how to control our bodies and be self-aware. And, even more importantly, I have been thankful for the chance to practice extending the sweet gift of grace.
Nina serves as Director of Family Ministry at National Community Church in Washington DC. Nina originally moved from California to the nation’s capital to work for the United States Congress, serving as a Legislative Director in the House of Representatives. Writing and directing education and family policy, Nina realized her deep passion for strengthening the family and the home. She has overseen the family ministry department at NCC since 2001, growing the children’s programs to seven locations. Nina and her husband, Joel, live on Capitol Hill with their three young kids: Eloise, Ezekiel, and Lorenza.