Distance clarifies so much. Sometimes when I’m working on an article the best thing I can do for it is to set it aside. After a few days or a week I can read it with fresh eyes and a new structure or new emphasis will just pop out at me. This applies to parenting too. Distance crystalizes my own stupidity. I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day and we were laughing about the ridiculous parenting decisions we made with our first children.
I told her about the time we took two-year-old Will on a roller coaster. Literally. He was two. And it wasn’t a tiny coaster either. Will just happened to be the size of a five year old, and as is true with all roller coasters, size is the sole criterion for riding. Even though Will loved every second, this strikes me as incredibly stupid now.
Then there was the time, when we lived in Florida, that I took my three boys to the beach to meet up with some other moms. Will, Nate and Sam were five, three and three months, and it was at least 95 degrees. Just getting the four of us out there with our gear was something of a feat, especially given the fiery hot sand and almost instantaneous de-hydration. Then Will’s friends (who were also all five) were heading out to go boogie boarding. What did I do? I let him go boogie boarding, of course.
Today I was at the beach with my family, and Sammy is now five years old now. The idea of letting him go boogie boarding without me right by his side is ridiculous. Yes, he’s a different kind of child, but I mean, C’MON! What was I thinking?
I guess we all have various times in our lives that we lack wisdom, and given the benefit of hindsight we can see these moments with painful clarity. But the Bible tells us just what to do about this problem. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Standing with my feet in the sand today I remembered that I need to ask for that which I lack. Praying tonight that I will be a wise parent to Will, Nate and Sam, that I’ll know when to say “yes, go boogie board” and “no, you need to hold my hand.” How fantastic that this verse from James says God gives generously to all without reproach.