said, trying to shrug it off. "Dad's mowing the yard and Mom
went shopping or something."
I learned later
that Lyle was nearly withdrawn from the league because his parents
said "it was inconvenient to get him to all those practices
and games." Some friends kept him involved by volunteering
to drive out of their way every day to pick him up for practices
and games and deliver him home afterward.
Bill Cosby does a
routine about the behavior of parents and grandparents when a new
baby is brought home from the hospital. The newborn does four
things weIl--eat, sleep, cry, and mess diapers. Parents and
grandparents marvel; neighbors are invited in to witness
"the changing of the diaper." Everyone wants to take his
or her turn. Before long, however, the routine grows thin and,
rather than an exciting task, changing the diaper becomes a chore,
an inconvenience. For the caring, nurturing parent, of course,
it becomes a loving act.
Where did we ever
get the notion that our children are for our convenience, when in
fact nurturing our children to maturity is an all-consuming job
that is often inconvenient? The fantasy that my sons would bring
praise and honor and glory to their father and mother, with
minimum effort on our part, was blown away after the seventh
diaper change and the seventeenth cry-out-in-the-nightwith-colic episode. Some parents never come
to grips with this, even as the children grow older, and there is
always the expectation that children should fit into the parents'
schedule rather than vice versa. While there must be some
compromising both ways, primarily it is the parents'
responsibility to do the adjusting.
If Lyle's parents
find it too inconvenient to attend his Little League games (or
even to get him there), do you suppose it will become easier to be
supportive when Lyle wants to join the junior high drama club,
or tries out for the high school swim team? Will Lyle even have
the incentive? Maybe, but not likely. "The deck is stacked
parents should not cater to every whim of their children (which
creates your basic spoiled brats), but rearing children is a
constant shuffling of schedules in order to be supportive of every
major event (and most minor ones too) in their children's lives.
When possible (and that's 90
percent of the time)....
- Mom will reschedule an
out-of-town business trip to attend the school play in which
her son has a bit part.
Dad will leave
an office staff meeting early in order to eat lunch once a
semester with his daughter in the school cafeteria.
Mom will get up
from the couch in the middle of her favorite TV -sitcom to see
the tent the kids have made with old blankets.
Dad will leave
the office early and throw together a couple of dishes for the
Scout potluck awards dinner when Mom has to work late.
Mom and kids
will work together on costumes for the church Christmas
- Dad will mow the neighbor's yard
for his son who’s too sick to do it.
- Mom will take time to write a
personal note for her daughter's lunch box.
Dad will get a
late start to work because he took time to press his
daughter's outfit she wanted to wear to school on her
Mom and Dad
will attend nearly every one of their son's sixth-grade
basketball games, even though he only plays the last two
Dad will stop
in the middle of washing the car in order to help his daughter
wash her bicycle.
misunderstand me. A child is not created to make a parent’s life
a constant state of inconvenience. But we need to get out of our
heads the idea that all we have to do is read a few behavior
instructions to our son or daughter, mix in a little of our own
magic personality, and presto--perfect kid.
is a matter of giving and giving and giving; giving of time,
resources, and personal attention. This is not done to the degree
that we develop immature, irresponsible, spoiled children, but
to the extent that we model patience and what it means to invest
ourselves in the lives of others. Yes, indeed, sometimes we are
inconvenienced, but more often than not, we are gratified and
feel fulfilled for our "inconvenience"--our loving
Children are not for our
convenience. We are for theirs. And as we see them growing, we see
them becoming mature persons who return honor, respect, and maybe
even a little glory to us, for they have learned from us the
meaning of commitment to others.