Back in the 1900’s kids worked for their parents. Besides doing their household chores like washing and ironing clothes, cleaning and vacuuming the family car in the driveway, mowing and raking the yard, and cleaning their rooms, many children helped on family farms, dairies, and ranches. On school days my cousins milked their cows at five am before breakfast.
In the mid-1900s a child’s extracurricular activities were the responsibility of the school. The bus took the kids to and from school, games, and tournaments. Many homes had one parent at home to make sure the household ran properly. That parent often did not have employment outside the home. Now, most kids have two hardworking parents who rush to leave for work in the morning and come home emotionally and physically drained. Too often homework has taken the place of family dinner time.
Now, parents work for their kids. They hurriedly shuttle their children to and from school, deal with carpooling and spend untold hours at baseball, basketball, soccer, swim events, games, practices, and tournaments.
With all this business of being busy as parents, it is much harder to be cool, calm and collected in interacting with a child, especially on school days. Today, it is understandable that parents are often irritable and impatient. They lack Godly patience.
Children do not share their love and feelings with a mom or dad who snaps at them or who is irritable and impatient with them. Yet, Godly patience can yield moments of extraordinary lasting value on the most ordinary trying days. Here is one such moment.
When my grandson Tristan, age six, was attending School of the Woods Montessori School, I regularly dropped him off daily at school on the way to work. On many of those days, I felt the pressure of making sure that Tristan made it to school on time and had everything he needed in class. I felt the pressure of getting to the office to meet with a client on time or make it to Court before the docket call.
One morning when we arrived at the school the carpool line was unusually long. Looking ahead I could see the teachers anxiously waiving the parents to move through the line as quickly as possible. I felt relief as the teacher opened the car door. It was Tristan’s turn to get out of the van and walk to his first-grade classroom. As he got out of the van I said, “Tristan, have a nice day.”
As I did every day, I watched Tristan walk about 50 yards to the classroom door. When Tristan made it to the door, I knew I could pull out of the driveway and that Tristan would be safe in the arms of the school.
Just as I started to leave the carpool line, I saw Tristan turn around and look at me. Suddenly, he started running as fast as he could to the van. I thought, “Tristan, what the heck are you doing?” “What have you forgotten this time?” “What are you thinking, Tristan? “ Now you are keeping me and everyone in the carpool line from leaving.”
As the teachers in the front of the carpool line were impatiently motioning me to move forward and get out of the way, I remained in the carpool line. I looked back. I felt the eyes of the parents in the line behind me wondering what the holdup was. Why was I not moving?
Tristan made it to the passenger front door of the van. He opened the door. Instead of criticizing Tristan for slowing me and others down, I decided to do what God does with all of His children. I paused. I was patient. I listened.
I softly asked, “Tristan is there a problem?” Then, Tristan said and did something both unexpected and everlasting. Tristan replied, “Oh, there is nothing wrong. I got to the classroom door and remembered that I forgot to do something.” Tristan leaned forward and wrapped his arms around me. He said, “I forgot to give you a hug and tell you how much I love you.”
At that moment I could have cared less about what the teachers and the drivers in the cars behind me were thinking. I knew I just received a gift from a child and God which I would never forget.
God has spoken to us in Scripture about patience.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Let us pray together.
Dear God, I thank You for Your loving kindness and patience with me as I struggle to find and share those qualities in me.
God, please help me to be open, respectful, and patient with the children in my life especially the young ones.
God, please help me listen to the words and the heart of every child. May I not be judgmental but instead be curious as to the feelings of each child.
Last, please forgive me for the harsh things I have said to children when I should have been more like You. Amen
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.