Thursday, October 15, 2009

You're Invited to Dinner

In many families the dinner table is a traditional space for sharing. One is likely to find laughter, inane banter, discipline and the recalling of events from the day.

Our family embraces this time-honored tradition; so one evening in accordance with dinner table bylaws I asked my 9-year-old son to tell his dad what he had done that day. Always the joker he responded with a crooked smile, “What do you mean Mom? I did a lot of things today.”

I gave him the look – the look that all moms give their irreverent children. I held his gaze for a moment before my easygoing husband interrupted, “Why don’t you tell me about your day, bud. How did it begin?”

With what appeared to be another stunt from his playbook my son tilted his head and spoke thoughtfully, “My day began by getting up. I never know whether to get up or stay in bed. I think it’s because I’m always so tired.”

I was prepared to pounce on his impudent reply before I recognized the sincerity in his voice. There was no hint of humor or sarcasm. In fact, it was as if he had been waiting all day for someone to come along and unlock the vault of his mind. My husband had cracked the safe with just the right combination of words. What he found was a wealth of information provided through a detailed accounting of our son’s rather routine day.

Moments like these remind me that my kids are interesting, fragile, and more than ready to share. However, I do not always find myself as tender and ready to listen. Their demands are so many and so frequent that I have difficulty maintaining a proper perspective where they are concerned.

I struggle consistently with how to block out the distractions children bring without blocking them out altogether. I want to hear my kids without it requiring a meltdown, a mediator or a disciplinarian, but too often this is exactly the point where I step in. Unfortunately, the result is that I sometimes miss the precious moments, the moments of innocence.

I long to really see my children and to see myself praising them for who they are and what they have done right rather than finding fault with them in their moments of weakness. Clearly, I must pay attention. I must resist the urge to say, “No, not now – later,” and I must not assume that my kids are headed down the path of mischief and mayhem. Why borrow trouble? There will be plenty of opportunities to correct them without anticipating imagined infractions.

Luke writes:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.Luke 6:37-38

I am challenged by this scripture. These very words give me pause when I am tempted to withhold from my children the grace which is extended to me each day.

While addressing this challenge our family will continue to set the table with exciting stories serving up both grace and correction along with a fair helping of sarcasm and wit. Beyond that my hope is for our table to be an open forum where family and friends linger and laugh. Isn’t that what we all desire – a warm space to share our lives and the freedom to be ourselves.

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.”Proverb 17:1

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