Last week saw Week 2 of Kindergarten shake out for our oldest boy. To be honest we are still getting used to the time adjustment. Waking up earlier than ever before and going to sleep earlier as well. It’s been a hard week for all of us.
On Tuesday, Jack was so tired he didn’t want to get out of bed…and that sort of dominoed into a bad morning for us. He didn’t get to play his usual 20 minutes on the tablet. Though there are other days when we head out quickly, this morning he needed that “wake up time” to get to a good place. The whole drive to school he crowed about how tired he was. We arrived 10 minutes early and I thought having a few more minutes to compose himself would be good.
When I got out out the car, he jumped to the front seat, then the back just like a puppy trying to avoid shots at the vet. The screaming began. “I don’t want to go” moved on to “I want to go home.” I finally corralled Jack out of the car but it only made the wrestling match more glaring in the parking lot. He turned into that stubborn animal that wouldn’t budge. My only recourse was to pick him up to avoid the tug-of-war becoming a traffic incident.
As we neared the door, the cries grew louder and the looks from other parents were a mix of compassion and relief that on this morning this was not their child. They had all had these moments before. “I want to go home!” Jack bellowed over and over. There was no reasoning with him. There was no calming him down. The room assistant tried to help. The head of school tried to soothe. And when I finally got him in the door, the Kindergarten teacher tried to coax movement toward the class. The resistance was mighty.
For 15 minutes I wrestled, hung on, reasoned, coaxed, encouraged, negotiated and stood my ground. I kept a level head and kept affirming the same message over and over…”It’s ok to be tired, but it’s not ok to be mean. We are not going back, we are going to class.” I knew Jack was tired. I felt badly for him. But I could not cave in. The repercussions of giving in would be far worse than the struggle to press forward. I kept giving him choices: “I can leave now or I can walk you to your room. Which would you like?” and once we got to the room, “I can leave now or stay for a few minutes, but you need to participate with your class. Which do you choose?” It was an exhausting series of negotiations.
When I walked out of the class 15 minutes later I heard, “But Daddy… Waaaaa!” With a heavy heart I needed to continue to walk away. It was so painful to move away from my child who was upset, when I am so used to moving toward him when he gets hurt. It was so hard to wrestle and reason with him that we are going to do the very thing he doesn’t want to do. I wasn’t just sticking to my guns just for the heck of it. He needed to learn that we sometimes need to do things we don’t want to. That’s Parenting 101 in the Big Person’s Handbook, but seems like Growing Up 401 for our children. They are so resistant to those maturity moments.
As I drove away I wondered, “How am I like that?” The question rolled over in my mind. I have to admit how much I see myself in Jack’s actions on this morning. My face sort of went flush in embarrassment. “I am just like that!” I resist the maturity moments so often. I kick and scream when being made to do something I’d rather not. I would rather do the easy thing, the un-difficult thing, the comfortable thing, than push through what seems like a maturity mountain. Growing up is hard…even when you are a grown up.
I love how inviting Jesus is. On numerous occasions in the Gospel of John, Jesus invites people to “come and see” what his life is like. But my favorite invitation occurs in Matthew 11:28-29 where Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” He invites us to come and walk WITH him and learn from him. And then he says he will give rest for our souls. That amazes me.
He invites me into his classroom, and yet how many times do I just resist, refuse, find excuse, and neglect the invitation. Sometimes I kick and scream and make a scene, but most of the time I just take my stance as the stubborn mule and refuse to budge. How insane! The kind, gentle teacher and lover of my soul invites me close and I resist. How dumbfounding!
What is even more dumbfounding is that I think his response would have been different than mine. I think he would have let go and let me go running out the door into the parking lot. I think Jesus lets us choose. We have those “still, small voice” moments. Those are the moments when Jesus is reasoning with us and we are having a wrestling match in the parking lot as to whether we will listen or not. He is giving us the choice, “I’ll be right here, you know where to find me. There is so much to learn. But it’s your choice to join me.” He waits for us to choose what is best over what is convenient and comfortable.
Remarkably, he waits. He waits for us to bring our resisting arms down. He waits for us to calm down. He waits for us to recognize the goodness of this invitation. He waits for me to be the one that acknowledges how good this offer is. Psalm 25:4 recounts David’s acknowledgement of this offer, “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.” I want to be like that more often. I want to be better at recognizing a maturity moment quicker. I want to be more welcoming and receptive to Jesus’ invitations and more frequent in taking him up on it. Honestly, I just want to be less resistant to love.
The great lion Aslan says in The Magician’s Nephew, “how cleverly you defend yourself against all that might do you good!” Sometimes I wish it was a lion speaking to me so I would actually listen. Jesus invites us to listen and learn. I want grow up so bad but wish I wasn’t so resistant. Maybe it took an altercation in a parking lot for me to recognize how I need to change. Maybe Jack was that lion speaking to me. Thanks for teaching me something my son. I hope I will learn from this maturity moment.