This week our next door neighbor’s Grandpa is visiting, and he brought his two big dogs with him. I assume the dogs are nice dogs and good with kids.
But you never know with dogs you don’t know, right? Right.
And so when my two little boys went outside to play in the yard while I made dinner, and their eager little faces turned immediately to those dogs, I told them: “You can play with anything in our yard that you want, but my only request is don’t stick your hands through the neighbor’s fence and don’t touch the neighbor’s dogs.” I made them repeat my words back to me, and then I left them to their fun while I cooked and listened through the open kitchen windows.
About twenty minutes later, I could hear that the neighbor girl (same age as my eldest) was talking with my boy. I couldn’t hear much of the conversation, but I did hear this exchange:
Little Girl: You can touch the dogs. See? They’re nice. Touch them like I’m touching them.
And then in a big, loud, commanding voice…
My son: NO! My Mommy told me “don’t put your hand through the fence and don’t touch the dogs.” So I am not going to touch the dogs!”
Little Girl: Just put your hand through this way. He wants to lick your hand.
My son: NO! My Mommy told me not to.
And with that my son turned around and went back to digging in the dirt with his favorite construction trucks.
The clasp on my bra and the buckle on my belt both nearly popped off right then and there in my kitchen. I don’t know when I’ve ever been so utterly proud of anyone in my whole life.
I think sometimes the Hubs and I feel like we’re the “sounding gongs and clanging cymbals” St. Paul talks about in 1st Corinthians. We are constantly trying to instruct our children in the truth, teach them obedience, and give them the tools to make good choices and the right decisions. And nine times out of ten with toddlers, it’s in one ear and out the other.
And then, when it really counts, the grace is there for my child to respond in obedience…even when he has no idea his parents can hear or see him.
Sure, he won’t always make the right choice. But when he does, I really want him to know how utterly proud it makes our family, and it makes His Lord.
I made a BIG deal of telling Daddy the story of Mark and the dogs at the end of dinner last night, making sure to emphasize how proud Mark made Mommy and what a great example he was to his younger brothers.
And if you’re wondering if my son was presented with a Trader Joe’s lollipop for his dessert – despite it being Lent and all…
You better betcha.