Monday, April 03, 2006

what the kids pick up

Ever wonder what kids pick up from the world of adults? If they are really paying attention? Do you ever naively hope they aren't? Here is a true story of an event handled well that a young friend shared with me this week.

The local news was on TV as five-year-old Kirk was playing nearby. Dad didn't think he could hear – or cared to hear – what was being broadcast into their living room. His boy suddenly looked up with a troubled expression on his face.

Rather than reply to an assumption, his father was smart enough to begin with a question. "What did you hear, son?"

"The man on television, Daddy!" he began. "He said that woman was killed in a car wreck. Was she a Mommy?"

"Yes, Kirk. That is what the man said. And that makes both of us very sad, doesn't it? And she had two children – a little girl about your age and a baby boy."

Dad was feeling Kirk's pain now. He saw the wheels turning in his trusting little boy's mind. He was rather certain he knew the questions that were forming: Could that happen to my Mommy? Or to my Daddy? And what would I do then? Who would take care of me?

Sure enough, with eyes that were sad now and with his little lip trembling, the boy asked his final question. "Daddy, who will take care of her babies?"

The answer Kirk's father gave him was from God. It was brilliant and should be the model more parents use with their kids. He held out his arms to him, picked him up, and hugged him for a minute. Only then did he say anything.

"Son, your Mommy and I have taught you about Jesus and how he loves you. And your Mommy and I love you and your brother with all our hearts. We are here to love you and take care of you and be with you. But there are bad things that happen in this world too. And they remind us how much we need each other.

"So let's pray for that lady. And for her babies. And for the Daddy who will take care of them now that she is gone. Okay?"

They did. And Kirk's little feet hit the floor running. His Dad had given him just what he needed. Oh, he hadn't given him an answer – for who can give a satisfying account of human pain and fear, evil and loss, death and loneliness? He gave him a hug. Told him he was loved. Made him feel safe in his tiny world.

Then Kirk's father did something else. He made his personal response to his son's fears and his inability to keep him from ever being touched by them. He did what God himself must do for us. As Kirk left to play, his Dad had a good cry.

Reprinted from Rubel Shelley's FAX of Life.