As we were leaving the pool at a friend’s house, Christian was putting away toys and quickly walking towards me when he suddenly slowed and began hopping on one foot. His expressive face changed in an instant, and he began the common childhood near-death exclamation of, “I have a splinter! I have a splinter!”
Being the ever-understanding dad I replied, “Are you sure it’s a splinter? I don’t see anywhere you could even get one.” He looked back where he had been walking and pointed directly to a sliver of a spot on the ground. “Right there! That’s where I got it!” He was adamant, so I looked at his foot. Sure enough, it’s generous to say it was a splinter, but there was a little piece of some type of hard substance lodged in his children’s size 13 foot.
What does a real dad do at this point? He immediately tries to dig it out with his dull fingernailed hands of course! This created more screams from the young boy who had no intention of letting anyone dig into his foot. After trying to persuade him for a few more minutes that I possessed the medical expertise to remove any type of splinter in the world, he had resolved to not let anyone else touch his foot. Not even mommy! And we all know that mommy can fix just about any medical issue for children under the age of 10.
We drive home and start getting everyone corralled up the stairs towards bed when I see Christian sitting on the couch with a pair of tweezers seeming to painlessly dig into his own foot. Within seconds, he proudly informs us that he had extracted the splinter from his foot. I wasn’t sure I believed that he had gotten it that quickly, but the evidence was in his hand. The second smallest splinter I had ever seen was lying in his palm. (The smallest splinter I have ever encountered came out of his youngest sister, Adriah’s, foot. Some would say that splinter didn’t even exist. :))
I was proud of him.
We got the kids ready for bed and I got to do statistics homework for the rest of the night. That was that.
A few hours later I crawled into bed and began to think about my son, the young surgeon. As a parent, I see myself falling into this frame of thinking all of the time when seeing my son or three beautiful daughters do something well….I think to myself, “What will they become?!? A musician? An architect? An entrepreneur that completely changes the world of surgical robotics?”
As I lay there contemplating and planning the rest of my son’s life, I suddenly realized I was using the wrong key word to start my question. When I look down the road of possibilities for my son and daughters I should not be asking myself WHAT will they become, but WHO will they become?
Anyone that knows our family well, knows that Christian has a …shall we say….strong personality. He likes to be in charge and will attempt to move heaven and earth to get his way. He is determined and passionate…that’s the positive way of looking at it. Some days he is simply rotten and needs to be left in his room alone for long stretches of time so he does not hurt anyone, including himself. On these days, I seem to only see the negative aspects of his personality and the road that can lead to destruction, or at best a life on the run from Johnny Law.
But then there are days where I can see the full perspective of the type of leader that he can be and how he can gather others to his cause. Those are the days I want to remember. Those are the days I need to dwell on when contemplating his future. Those are the days I need to not think of simply what he will be, because that can change from year to year, but I need to focus on who he can be.
What do I need to be doing now to shape the character of my son and daughters? Each one is different and needs various forms of prodding and encouragement. When I think about these aspects clearly, I finally realize that what they become is of little consequence. It is my job to give them the guidance, discipline, love, and encouragement they need to lead them to who they will become. If they can become who God has created them to be, what they are is of very little consequence.
May we as fathers and mothers invest in our children so they can become who they were always meant to be.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.