This weekend my two-year-old son stayed at his grandparents, something he loves to do. When we drop him off he pushes us out the door, eager for us to leave so he can have them to himself. When we come back he cries and tells us to go away, he doesn’t want to go home. I don’t mind this at all. I am glad he has so much fun with his grandparents and is independent enough to do with out his parents for a few days. I have to admit I enjoy a break from my son every now and then. It’s nice to sleep past six a.m. for once.
Packing my son’s little overnight bag before he left got me thinking about that inevitable day in the future when he’ll pack up everything and leave home for the last time, only to return again as a guest. If his father and I could spend his childhood packing a “survival kit” for him to take into the adult world what would we include?
- A personal relationship with Jesus Christ
- A sense of humor
I could probably go on and on with this list. The suitcase would be so full I’d have to sit on it to get it closed. Of course the truth is we can’t really cram all the things we want to teach our children into a backpack and send them on their way with it. We have to model the values that we want to instill in them through our own actions. We have to talk to them about what we believe and why. We have to teach them how to apply these things to everyday situations. We have to discipline them when their actions are wrong, and celebrate the good that they do.
It is a long and sometimes arduous process. My son has not yet reached his third birthday, and sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a concrete block after explaining the concept of sharing for the thousandth time and seeing it go in one ear and out the other. Why does he have to sit in time out over and over before one day it finally clicks in his brain that pulling the kitty’s tail is mean? But I trudge on knowing that I only have eighteen years to stuff his suitcase with all the knowledge and skills he’ll need on the outside.
I do look forward to the day my son rides off to live his own life. Not because I can’t wait to get rid of him, but because I can’t wait to see what kind of man he will become. What career will he choose? What talent does he hold? What will his wife be like? What kind of father will he be? It will be the ultimate pay off to watch as he unpacks that overflowing bag we’ve sent him off with and hopefully puts it all to good use.