Archive for March, 2016

“He’s eating grasshoppers.”

“What?”

“He’s eating grasshoppers. The other kids saw it and reported it to the lunchroom lady.”

“Well, Johnny has always been difficult and unusual. He’s not like the others. He’s been a difficult, determined child…”

“Has he been tested? At times he seems almost autistic. I’d have him checked. We can recommend someone.”

“No, he’s not autistic. Maybe a bit ADHD or OCD.”

“It’s not just the grasshoppers. He stands by the drinking fountain and shouts at the rest the kids to ‘repent’ and then he splashes water on them.”

“Well, his father, Zach, and I…as you can see, we’re not young…we try…. Zach retired from the Temple when Johnny finished kindergarten. It hasn’t been easy…he’s talked with counselors at The Temple Clinic. They say he has guilt issues. They’ve never seen anyone so obsessed with confessing mistakes. But really, it’s only a little splashing, right?”

“And then there are the dippings.”

“The dippings?”

“Yes. Whenever one of his little friends say they are sorry for whatever, he dips them in the fountain. When the older students walk by and make fun of him, he yells at them. Things like, “Judgment is approaching! Hypocrites! Repent and be baptized!”

“Hmm. I was wondering why his camel shirt was always so wet after school.”

“Yes, and the camel shirt. What’s with the camel shirt? All the other nice children wear clean linen shirts and broadcloth trousers. John looks hideous! I’ve a mind to call Children’s Services!”

“We’ve tried with the clothes. There must be ten linen shirts in his closet. But every day. Camel shirt.”

“Well, Elizabeth, I know this is difficult, but John has been given three days of ISS for cutting up in the lunchroom — making noise and splashing children. If things continue to spiral out of hand, John will be dismissed.”

“I understand. You know, he’s really a good boy. He’s just misunderstood. He never hurts anyone and you should see the way he plays with my cousin Mary’s boy. They talk about changing the world! They are inseparable. Zach and I try our best to influence Johnny to love and serve God and others, but we can’t control his choices at school. Do you think ISS is going to help him?”

“Well, we’ll see. This must stop. The kids are starting to call him ‘the baptizer’ and he makes the faculty nervous.”

Tr8: Influence. We influence our children, but we do not choose for them (except as infants). They grow into free agents (baptizers, saviors, doctors, bakers, etc.) quickly and start choice-making within a year of birth. While we cannot choose for them, we can present them good choices. As time goes on, prepared choices become fewer and fewer. Choosing for them can also be dangerous — adults don’t survive on their parent’s faith. Sadly, some children become bad decision-makers. We survive by trusting God and our children.

Orchestrate choices while you can. Children need practice in making wise decisions. Perhaps the best way is to embrace choosing as a life skill. If I could do it over again, I’d have done this more. I’d treat making choices like brushing teeth. It isn’t a tacit act, it’s purposeful. Decisions 101: 1) What will happen next? 2) Will this hurt me or someone else? 3) What if everyone does this? 4) Would Jesus do this? and 5) What is the story I want to tell others with this decision?

Review the steps to making a good decision often. The more directed practice a child gets before adolescence, the better. Practice praying for wise decisions. Celebrate wise decisions and reboot after bad ones.

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