Have you ever thought about your child’s “now”?
I didn’t even know what a “now” was until about five years ago when the Headmaster of the school our children used to attend spoke about it during parent orientation.
He said that every child has a “now,” and it’s our responsibility to embrace it.
By “now,” he meant the one thing that makes our child’s heart sing. The one thing that gets our child excited. The one thing that our child loves to do more than anything in the world.
For some, he said, it may be baseball, basketball, track, gymnastics, or football.
For others, he said, it may be art, music, dance, theater, writing, reading, or chess.
But whatever it is, he said, as parents, we must be on the lookout for it, and we must embrace it.
Even if our child’s “now” is — get this — something different from what we’d like it to be. Even if it’s something different from our own.
He told us that if we were heaping our own dreams onto the shoulders of our children, it was time to stop.
Because the only way we will truly connect with them and help them discover who God made them to be, is to stop living vicariously through them and to start engaging them in living their own life.
That was a few years ago, before we were knee-deep in extra-curricular activities and sports, so it didn’t really resonate.
But it resonates now.
He’s almost 8.
He’s got red hair.
He’s more shy than the rest of us.
And he moves at a slower, more cautious pace.
He plays baseball. And in some ways, he’s beginning to learn the game and develop some skills. But there’s a competitive edge in some of his teammates that we just don’t see in him. At least not yet.
And sometimes, getting him to practice requires convincing.
And sometimes, he appears to be miserable when we’re at games.
But we believe team sports present wonderful opportunities for teaching many life skills, so it’s important that he plays. It’s also important, though, that we maintain the right perspective.
We may not be raising a high school or college athlete.
When we’re in the mountains every summer, Kory, our oldest, and I always look forward to the activities. The tubing, archery, kayaking, horse back riding, high ropes course, and zip line across the canyon. We’re all risk-takers and adventure-seekers.
All of these things make our son extremely nervous.
But we view these activities as opportunities for him to work through fear, so we encourage and incentivize him to participate. (We don’t make him.) Each year, we’ve seen growth so I think that’s a good thing. It’s important, though, that we maintain the right perspective.
We may not be raising the next Bear Grylls.
I do believe our son has enjoyed all of these activities and experiences deep satisfaction when he reaches a milestone, but none of them are his “now”. At least not yet.
But he does have a “now”.
When we were packing for our road trip to family camp this summer, I threw a deck of cards and a Chinese checker board into the trunk so we’d be prepared if we ever got stuck in the cabin due to storms. When we got to our hotel after our first long day of driving, our son asked if we could play a game.
I was exhausted, and we needed to get Little Bit down for the night, so I said “no”. I promised him, though, that when we got to camp, we would play some games.
Three days into camp, though, we hadn’t played a single game. Instead, we’d spent our time kayaking, tubing, riding horses, and working with him to conquer his fears.
These were good things.
And we had a good time.
Each night, though, he’d ask if we could play a game, and there always seemed to be some reason that we couldn’t.
On the third day of camp, the weather changed, and we got quite a bit of rain, thunder, and lightening. Little Bit and our oldest were playing up at the lodge, and Kory and I found ourselves with our son alone. At the camp store, they were selling a dice game called “Tenzi,” so we asked our son if he’d like to go buy the game and learn how to play.
“Yes!” he said without any hesitation.
So we threw on our raincoats and dashed across camp to the store. We bought Tenzi, and we went to the lodge for hot cocoa and games.
And we played.
And we played.
And I noticed that as we played, our son’s demeanor completely changed.
Any anxiety or fear he was carrying around about camp activities melted away.
His face lit up.
His energy and enthusiasm peaked.
And there was new-found connection among the three of us.
Because his “now” has nothing to do with tubing or kayaking or horseback riding or high ropes courses or sports.
His “now” is all about relationship.
It’s one-on-one time. At the table. In the car. Anywhere he can get it, for that matter.
Snuggling on the sofa to watch baseball.
Doing a puzzle.
These are just a few of the activities where we’ve seen him light up like we did that rainy day at camp.
His now is time. Time with us doing the quiet things of life.
And it makes sense. He’s a middle child, and sometimes, middle children can feel like they’re pulled in a million different directions and lost in the shuffle.
And we would be wise to embrace that. Because out of his “now,” we’ll help him discover God’s design for his life.
And that’s the person we’re raising him to be.
Are you missing your child’s “now”? If so, what can you do today to embrace it?