Kids and rocks and stuff

“Know what, Nyra? You rock.”

She stopped eating and looked up at me with incredulous eyebrows. “I’m not a rock.”

“No,” I tried to explain. “I wasn’t calling you a rock. Sometimes when somebody says that you rock, it means that you’re really good. Or that they like you a lot. Or that they like something you did, or like, you know…” my voice trailed off, but I figured that should satisfy her.

She still looked totally confused but did me the courtesy of letting out an enlightened “Oh.”

Dinner conversations in the Bargeron house. They can go one of two ways. Either they’re sporadic little nuggets of cuteness like that one, 

OR they’re more like this:

“Nyra Jane! Pick up your fork and eat your chicken!”

“No I don’t like chicken!” 

“Well you’re going to eat your chicken.”

“NOOO!” kick kick kick kick slap slap slap looong death glare (if looks could kill, Emily and I would have been long gone a couple years ago). Nyra decided sometime around her fourth birthday that she doesn’t like meat. Until she actually tries it. Then a look of wonder comes over her tear-streaked face. 

And bam. Instant convert. But let me reiterate that instant conversion, in the case of our dinner table diva, does not come instantly. That begrudging bite generally comes about after an average of 20 minutes of back-and-forth in a clash of wills between us and her. 
So it’s been almost a year of dinner fights. But she’s getting there, and so are we. Parenting a child (particularly a strong-willed one) reveals just how much of a child is left in the parent. We often find ourselves arguing with our four-year-old as if we were four-year-olds ourselves.

The hardest part of parenting isn’t “getting her to obey”. Eventually she wears down and does what we ask out of sheer exhaustion. Or we get too tired to keep on her, so we compromise with our requirements. No, the hardest part isn’t obedience, nor is sheer obedience the goal. The hardest part by far is apologizing to her when we know we were “in the right”, but went about it in the wrong way. She needs to see and understand that we aren’t the standard, and therefore we screw up too. Why is that important? Because our goal is not a good kid. Our goal is a kid (and eventually a woman) who loves Jesus. If she thinks her parents are the standard, boy will she be disappointed when her standard keeps changing. How much better will it be for her to see that we’re on her team, looking to Jesus in our failures?

Because we all fail. We are none of us perfect. We can be pros at putting on a happy face while our hearts are ugly. But man, can you imagine a world where we wouldn’t have to put on a face at all? Where we wouldn’t have to constantly be fakers? Where we could be who we really are and pursue true and lasting pleasure? Good news: that world exists – and not just in your imagination either. Because the One who took on all our failures and insecurities is the One who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves. We don’t have to put on a face for Him because He already sees us as we are, and loves us anyway. He knows us well enough to know we can’t be what He made us to be without His intervention. 

So He intervened. And more than two thousand years ago He poured all of His wrath against our sin onto His Son, who died the death we owed so we could live the life He gives.

Yeah I know I’m a broken record. But this is why we parent. This is why we set high standards – we want our kids to be good kids, and will train them to be so, but more than that we want them to see that they (and we) can’t reach God’s standard without God’s Son Jesus.

And before we know it, Nyra won’t be the only one asking questions and talking back: Jackson will have his first birthday party next month. I used to hate that old phrase they grow so fast because I thought it was overused. Now I hate it because I know it’s true, but don’t want it to be. I feel like these kids were just born, and now here we are with a one-year-old and a five-year-old in the same year (Nyra turns five in December)!

I guess time just goes fast in general. Case in point, I haven’t written a post since May 7th. That was nearly three months ago! A lot has happened in that time gap. Since then, we:

  •  Celebrated Emily’s fifth Mother’s Day (counting when Nyra was still in Mommy’s tummy)
  • Drove up to Emily’s folks’ cottage in Clare
  • Flew down to my folks’ house in Charlotte, NC where we shared a Father’s Day celebration with my dad and grandpa 
  • Celebrated my 28th birthday (Emily spotted a gray hair in my beard to celebrate)
  •  I helped the Davis fellas relieve Lake Erie of its walleye population (we got a lot of fish).

    It’s been a pretty busy summer and we’ve enjoyed it. The only downside has been a health concern (not an uncommon statement for our family, it seems). Emily had been having this weird, inexplicable hip pain for a while. Days with pain had turned into weeks which had turned into months, which culminated in an MRI. Turns out she has a hip impingement.  I’m not good at anatomy or science or medical terms or anything intelligent like that, so I’m probably not even saying that correctly, but that link will take you to a description of what’s going on in her body if you’re curious. It’s beyond my pay grade to understand or explain, but I can tell you that it’s been hurting her something fierce, and she’s joining me in the ranks of the physical therapy warriors. We’re hoping and praying that God will heal this and she won’t need surgery. Join us please, all the you who believe in the power of prayer.

    Quick aside, here: One of the reasons we’ve been able to enjoy this summer (and last summer) so much has been the remarkable group of men and women from our church and elsewhere who have chosen to volunteer their time and energy to keep our lawn looking beautiful. Before my injury, lawn care and landscaping was my thing. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but I enjoyed it and worked hard at it all the same. When we were given this beautiful home and lawn, I was reluctant to have to make Emily do what I had been so keen on doing before my accident. I started researching and asking around about ways I could control a lawnmower. Maybe someday they’ll have something for folks like me, but I didn’t have to worry about it for long because a significant group of men and families stepped up to help us. Our friend Craig Simon has organized and overseen all the many volunteers since day one, and not a week has gone by where we’ve had to fret about our lawn. 

    Thank you to each of you who help us! We don’t always get a chance to thank you personally, but please know that your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated by us. 
    Y’all rock. No, I’m not calling you rocks. Sometimes when somebody says that you rock, it means that they like something that you did, or that you’re really good, or… 
     Thank you.