Kids can be quite the nuisance sometimes! Certainly mine can be! At 9, he is a “super-star” athlete who would rather be on the ballfield (pick one…anyone) than in the classroom – has a mad crush on his teacher (ok…I’ll give him that one, she is a hottie) – loves his dog (she’s somewhat wary of him) – hates taking baths (or showers) – tries not to show it, but struggles with being the product of a broken home. I’m not the biological parent and in fact, have no legal responsibilities when it comes to this amazing child. I love him though! In fact, even if he were my flesh and blood, I don’t think I could love him more! There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God that I have been granted this awesome gift.
Paris walked into my life a little over five years ago wearing baggy jeans and an oversized, puffy, parka. He looked like the Michelin man. He didn’t want to leave my apartment that night. He bawled and bawled some more. I hugged him and told him he could come back anytime he wanted. What, was I crazy? Now he has the bedroom down the hall from mine. And I have homework and carpool responsibilities. He now wears the same size shoe at me and before too long will be taller than me…and I’m 6’1″. He’s gonna be a big un! And I’m proud of him!
As with most kids from a divided home, he has had to face his share of issues. I can’t tell you how many times, after I’ve said “no” to something, I’ve heard “I’m wanna go live with…” I hate hearing that, but it’s a reality.
For those of us who are step-parents, I believe we sometimes face hurdles that bio-parents don’t have to face. For those of us whose relationships don’t particularly look like the average suburban family, we have even more issues to overcome. Throw into the mix my own obsession with perfection and it can be enough to drive a person completely insane. Namely…me!
If you’ve been following my writings, you’ll know that I’ve written about observations that have come from my time with Paris. He’s forever coming up with great quips. Like yesterday morning as we were leaving the house, he looked at my outfit [I was wearing running shoes with slacks] and told me that I would look “much more handsomer wearing different shoes!” I laughed! Or there was the time that we had forgotten to give him money for school lunch. As we sat around the dinner table he informed us that he had to borrow money from his teacher because he was “totally broke” at school. The way he said it gave us a fit of laughter which only served to make him mad because we were “laughing at him”…still makes me laugh.
You probably also know that there has been a lot of stress in my life. My relationship has been going through some really difficult times. We’ve recently moved to a new home. For a while we were having serious problems with the non-custodial parent. A lot has been going on. And, if I’m being honest, I’ve managed to get bogged down in the “drama” that has surrounded my life. So bogged down, that I’ve found that I have not been noticing the beauty that is all around me. Why do I do this? Why do any of us do this? It’s not unique to me…not even remotely. It’s a human condition that really kind of sucks!
This morning after I managed to locate a seat on the train, I pulled out my worn-thin Message translation of the New Testament. I opened it to the Book of Mark and began to read. The conductor called out that we were approaching the station where I transfer from one train to the next, but I didn’t want to leave because it was at that moment that my eyes fell on Mark 10:14. Apparently, the disciples of Jesus were a bit peaved because the kids were, as the saying in my house goes, “all up in the grown folk’s business.” And so, they proceeded to do what many of us do when the kids get a little too rambunctous – yell loud and long and tell them to “scram…beat it…leave us alone…go play in your own room and what ever you do, BE QUIET!” I personally like to close that diatribe with “I’ve got a headache!” Which I usually do…but probably more from the yelling than anything.
Anyway, all these people were crowded around the Master and the kids were annoying the heck out of the disciples. You know, Jesus was important and these kids…well, they were just kids! It’s at that point that I got to Mark 10:14 which reads:
The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are the very center of life in the kingdom.”
As I changed trains and continued on my way into the office, I was reminded that all too often I let things come between me and my child. I’m stressed! I need my space! I need some quiet! I tryin’ to do something important here! Perhaps we adults get a little too selfish and in our selfishness forget that the very center of life is the kids! They are our future!
Learning what is truly important in life seems to be the lesson Jesus was trying to teach his followers. Trying to remember that the center of life does not revolve around me is challenging sometimes. But watching a little guy grow up to be a healthy, whole adult who loves God, his family and friends with all his heart is the most amazing reward I could ever ask for! The center of life in the kingdom! I can see why Jesus would say that!
The Center of Life