Should you make your kids go to church? That’s a common question these days. The boys are 14 and 17, respectively. Elliot sleeps. A lot. He’s always been a morning person, but not anymore. Edison was out last night. Late. Boating and barbecuing and celebrating with friends after months of cramming for the ACT.
Neither of them are keen to get out of the house this morning for church.
And I have this value in me, handed down from Mom and Dad. And the scriptures. And culture.
Take your kids to church.
Many disagree with this value. We need God, not church. We need spirituality, not church.
I’m a hawk eye for false dualisms. So when I hear those false choices (God or church and spirituality or church) my logical mind asks, “Why not both? Why not God and church? Why not spirituality and church?”
Old fashioned? Legalistic?
(Oh, and the bribe to get them donuts didn’t work.)
Should we take our kids to church if they don’t really want to go?
“Younger children don’t let you sleep; older children don’t let you rest.” A Yiddish proverb. I remembered this quotation. Just now.
Because I see a mother. Pregnant. Late 20’s. Classy, but disheveled with jeans ripped the designer way. Prideful walk — good pride. And poise and confidence and such a pleasant face.
And I see tiredness on her face. Because younger children don’t let you sleep.
She walked right by me with her two-year-old gem — her son with darker skin and blondish curls (and my heart skipped a beat so I started writing this). He just stumbled past me. Following mommy because she’s pulling the chubby left arm along. Pigeon toed. Right index finger in mouth. With that kind of walk, where the distracted brain swivels the head left and right and up and down and the eyes dart back and forth every two seconds.
Toddlers don’t need no drugs; just give them a coffee house.
And they arrive at the coveted open table because Kéan Coffee always bustles. And dad, dressed for a day at the office. Slim. Together. Confident. A gentlemen, waiting at the bar for the coffee and hot chocolate. Brings to the table. Smiling. They sit down. Junior is the center of their attention. He almost falls off the chair haphazardly reaching for mommy’s croissant. Dad grabs him by the collar of his plaid shirt. Saves the day. One giggle and two sighs of relief. I continue to watch the trio’s dance. Bring me the popcorn because I’m watching a movie — the life of a young mother and father and toddler and baby in tummy. The bursting newness of life. What a movie.
I do remember those days. I can feel them. Here. Now. Bliss and joy and elation and that feeling of purpose you get when you know you’re truly needed. I remember all those public outings and all that attention from onlookers. Smiles and gawks, as if all our fans were all screaming inside “You’ve done something so right!”
I remember lack of sleep. But I can’t feel that. We can remember our pain of yesterday; thank God we can’t feel it.
I remember those days. Life back at home. Hundreds of innocent children’s books. Dr. Seuss. The innocent children’s TV shows. The innocent smell of the sweet skin and double-dose of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and Baby Lotion. PBS Kids at six in the morning (Sesame Street and Clifford and Blue’s Clues). Apple juice. Onesies.
“Daddy, let’s play ‘boo.’”
The memories of younger Bree and Edison and Elliot.
Those memories are tangible things. Here at Kéan. Right now. In the eyes of the toddler with the curls.
Those magical years are not gone because the past resides in the present, if we want it to.
This article makes as much sense as all the other books and articles I’ve read, combine. A snippet: “Frieda Duntmore, a thirty-nine-year-old Baltimore-high-school teacher and the mother of twin six-year-old girls, recounted standing in line at a supermarket, reading a magazine article about how being a parent sucked, and then recalling that, that very morning, she’d read another article, which said that being a parent was awesome, and that anyone who didn’t have kids might as well just take their own life.” Click hereto read.
Elliot is my youngest. He’s 14. He just started high school. Elliot is unlike me in so many ways. He’s an extrovert’s extrovert. For every degree of awkward aloofness that permeates my every cell in every social setting, Elliot thrives in crowds, makes friends quickly, becomes popular with blinding speed.
A few weeks ago, I heard through his mother, who teaches at his high school, that he was “running for class president.”
I’m no tiger dad. I have no vested interest in his winning. I have no vested interest in leveraging his self initiated ambition (I don’t even know how he came up with the idea of running) for “his” future benefit.
I don’t care if he wins or not. Loosing might be a better teacher. It usually is.
Elliot is not an object, he’s my son. I’m not trying to churn anything out of this.
But I’m happy to see his initiative. I did ask him on Monday, “Elliot, heard you’re running for class president, do you need any help?”
Classic Elliot: “no.” End of conversation.
I heard he made the posters. Apparently he copied a famous image of Cesar Chavez and inserted his head. (I think I remember lecturing him on a drive up the 55 freeway on workers’ rights and wage disparity while I was listening to Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad). Everyone loved the poster, his mom told me. He likely had the idea for the poster but had friends (probably female) “help” him. He wrote the speech, I presume. He writes better than his dad.
His mother just forwarded me the quicktime video of that speech.
“I vow to be a humble, caring, thoughtful leader…”
I had absolutely nothing to do with any of this. He stood at the podium. Classic Elliot. Poised. Huge smile. Hand in pocket. Nonchalant. Booming deep voice. Crowd swooning (female) with his every gesture.
My answer, to this moving Saturday night text, from a loved 17 year old male, who shall remain nameless, was a very easy “no.” A dangerous sign for this aspiring writer, though, given that even his own son would rather pass on the party, than read one of his father’s paragraphs.