Even before the elevator opened, I could hear the discussion.
As the doors slid back, there was a little girl of about six. One hand on her hip and the other hand pointed, arm, hand and finger, at a large man over six-feet tall. The look on his face was grim as I heard her exclaim, “I don’t care if it’s the millionth time you told me, I’m going to do it my way! I heard you the first time!”
Carefully, I stepped back from the elevator, happy to avoid the carnage about to surface from a man defeated by a woman in charge, even if she was only three-feet tall and six-years-old.
One of the first things I learned as a new dad, years ago, was that children, well, babies in particular, do not come with instruction manuals and even if they did, we wouldn’t read them until it was too late. However, the Bible does provide us with an excellent framework.
Children come to us with many personalities. Some of them are curious, happy and satisfied. Some are busy, demanding and assertive. Most have a wonderful mix of all of the above. Depending on which kind of mix we get the first time, it may determine if there are more to follow – or not! It is hard to get a second chance at a first impression. Regardless, the wonderful children are here and need to be loved, cared for and adjustable boundaries established.
I say adjustable boundaries because they will need to be reassessed at various stages of development, not just the boundaries for the children, but for parents and families alike. Failure to make these changes as time goes by usually turns into an unhealthy situation with all involved.
A good example occurs when children first begin school for the first time. New moms and dads get caught in the trap of trauma as their one and only has separation issues on day one of kindergarten. Mom cries and baby girl cries at the school door. Usually, Mom leaves with a tinge of guilt on her way to work. Baby girl cries as Mom leaves and then goes cheerfully along to be with her new found friends for an exciting day pre-planned by a caring teacher. Mom does not recover so quickly. However, after the family has child number two, little sister, now a veteran, leads little brother down the hall with no drama. Mom, though hesitant, drives away relieved.
Now, with the arrival of child number three into the school scenario, little (big) sister is having nothing to do with little brother, who affectionately refers to big sister as “Godzilla” and she refers to him as “The Bubba.” Little brother, now a veteran himself, shoves the new little sister down the school hallway as she pounds him on the head and back with her “Hello Kitty” school bag. He refers to her with sarcasm as “that little angel!” Mom drives away, takes another shot of her killer coffee, turns up the radio and smiles all the way to work.
My how things change!
As they say in the Lion King movie, “It’s the cycle of life. Roll with it, flow with it or get over it.”
One thing for certain, things will change tomorrow and children are the master of the necessity of change.
God bless them all!
Dr. Steve Coker is Superintendent of the Houston School District. He can be contacted at 456-2223.