Just last week, Jeff and I wondered if Brighton had slammed the front door off the hinges. Dishes shook. Pictures went cock-eyed. We were reassured only a few seconds later he hadn’t, because it seems like he tried four more times that afternoon. Nothing was wrong. It’s just the way he goes in and out.
As my rare quiet reading hour was interjected by these frequent booms and the foundation disturbing tremors, I tried to be thankful. Hmmm... that we built on a cement slab, that the front wall is all brick, that we have a front door, that the hinges hold well, that I have a little boy who runs through it, in and out, all day......... which turned into a prayer that he’d find more joy running in through our front door than running out of it. Those hinges, I thought, allow it to swing both ways. In and out.
In the middle of a school day, OUT is where he wants to play. When the bike has coughed him up, IN is where he wants to run. When he doesn’t just love his choices inside, OUT is where he wants to be. When cul de sac friends have hurt his feelings, IN is where he comes. When he hears those same friends having fun outside, OUT is where he wants to be. When Julia and I have devoured one too many chapters, OUT is where he wants to run. When he figures out it’s time to eat, IN is where he wants to be.
In and out. In my little room that day, I thought of the hinges on our big door. From where I sat reading, I could see his seven year old self running fast, trying to catch up. Book face down now in my lap, I realized his freedom was only expanding and I wondered about his desire to be here or somewhere else. Uncomfortable, I shifted in my chair when I thought about this hinging on the atmosphere we have created in our home. Big hinge. As his Mom, what am I doing to make our home a place he wants to be, rather than a place from which he just wants to get away? I can stock his favorite snack food, play the Star Wars soundtrack constantly, develop a high tolerance for Legos everywhere, serve up Mexican three times a week, and fill our book baskets with bright yellow Curious George books but so can any other woman on the planet. What can he get here, in the Sanders’ home, that he won’t find in the cul de sac, in the kid’s house a couple of streets over, from his friends at school or on the baseball team and as time goes by, the teenager’s room across town, or heaven forbid, the young girl who thinks he’s really cute? (“her”-- all in good timing, I know.)
I know it goes way deeper than what’s on my pantry shelves, but that’s harder. I don’t like hard. A trip to Target is easy.
Laughing at his antics takes energy--- funny or not. Being ready to drop my agenda for his can be excruciating. Allowing his creative messes with paper, markers, scissors and yards of tape isn’t always convenient. Overlooking, at times for the sake of the atmosphere, typical boy behavior isn’t my natural bent. Giving grace again causes my parenting insecurities to rise. Saying yes to screen time at regular times is hard for me. After discipline times, exerting all the strength I’ve got to keep him in my arms until he softens and lets me hold him can be exhausting. Listening to all his words takes a great deal of patience. Answering pages of questions can be draining. Making eye contact with him for the duration of these avalanches is challenging. Knowing him and understanding Brighton is time consuming. Recognizing that face that says he’s been hurt-- in the heart -- and responding interrupts my reading time.
And so it should.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
With the best of intentions, I have no chance of creating this atmosphere. Only if I choose, moment by moment, to lean heavily on the Holy Spirit, to be filled by Him, to allow that mysterious interchange of Him living through me. Moment by moment. Because, for me, it only takes a moment to act out of my self and not His Spirit. My responses and my reactions hinges solely upon what I do with Him....moment by moment. If I want this atmosphere that will quietly call my children’s hearts to our home, it hinges on how I respond to Him. Again, big hinge.
Before it’s all over, he may wear the door hinges out. My picture frames and our "remember" crosses on my walls don’t stand a chance of ever being straight. And that’s okay.
Maybe if I hear the boom enough, feel the tremor more often, and straighten frames a few thousand more times, I won’t forget what hinges.
Thanksgiving. Grace. Joy.