September 24, 2011

When home gets a little stuffy...

We play this game at the dinner table. It is pointless and silly and has no redeeming quality. But it makes us laugh a lot. And it will be a good memory someday.

We wait for someone to pass an item: a bowl or bottle or plate. Then the girls laugh and giggle and wait until the server's arm is outstretched heavy, hovering over table. They yell "freeze!" and the passer stops mid-pass. They think this is reaching with bowl of corn, quivering while waiting for the "un-freeze" command.

And it totally gets old, when they have yelled "freeze" for the sixtieth time in a twenty minute meal. We used to tell them there was a freeze-limit but our freeze tolerance has grown and last night Cara said: "Hey dad, can you pass me....anything?" And we all busted up laughing because she just wanted to laugh and she didn't care what he picked up as long as he played along. So he did.

And I can be the serious, over-thinking one around here and sometimes Todd's antics make me crazy. The spontaneous trumpet noises ... like a bugle reveille in my living room. And the dance parties, complete with bass and cymbal. A cappella.

I say things like, "Seriously? Can we please be serious?" And he smiles bigger than ever and, in pure defiance, takes the dance moves to a whole. new. level.

He says with a big-kid grin, "Oh C'mon, Ab."

I have walked away a time or two...only to hear the girls giggling and squealing with delight.

"Dad is being so silly!" Reese yells. And the holding back really isn't that much fun and I am missing the gift wrapped, hand-delivered moment:
You have been cordially invited to laugh really hard and make a memory...right now.

This is (usually) when I come to. Snap back into being a human and not a kill-joy.
This is not always natural for me.

Because I am capable of over thinking and over analyzing every last thing and some days my relentless, high expectations trick me into thinking there isn't room or time to be so silly.

In my uptight, parental "what if I don't raise 'em right" moments, I can crush what is real in search of something elusive and stuffy and other. Like, let's just say, at the dinner table? Aren't we suppose to talk about character and Jesus and reinforce all the day's learning and teach them how to pray, eat nicely, say "yes please", and look people in the eye when they speak?

Go ahead, feel the crushing weight....

Then enter in God's awesome sense of humor and master plan when he matched me with my mate:
this light- hearted, grace-loving, non-wavering family man.

He plows the soil in this home-- creates fertile ground for grace to take root, for love to grow. He reminds me we are doing just fine and that this home is called to be a place of refuge and goodness and joy. He reminds me of their smallness ... and that we are not in the business of grooming little pharisees.

He reminds me to put away the parenting book and just chill out. He reminds me that real learning and true obedience run over from little hearts that are loved and free and safe to just be. Taught and trained, yes. But freed up?

And lavished in gracious, sometimes too-silly love.  

These little hearts that have wrestled loud and laughed hard over dinner and raised the roof to U2 and Veggie Tales alike are the same little hearts that are willing, an hour later, to say "Yes, mama."

And there are a million ways to fill up their "love tanks." You don't have to play the freeze game at dinner. But an extra hug when they are least "deserving?" A long story before bed when their behavior warranted skipping one altogether? A favorite question (adopted from work) for when it is all falling apart: "Can you help me understand ______?"

Because aren't these really the key moments? The ones that build them up- brick over brick- into strong and gracious grown-ups? Aren't these little grab-bags of grace the gifts that pave the way for seeing eyes and hearing ears?

Like when they will learn someday that Home is actually found in a Person? What if they could look back to now with a sense and a knowing... 

...that their first experience of Home was right here within these walls.   

1 comment:

  1. I wholeheartedly relate :-)...and I so needed this reminder in this very moment!