They are just too cute, these two. Everything they do delights me, from their precious acts of love to the beautiful belly laughs provoked by silly “Uncle Peter” (Honey Dude). As I can see it, life is just so grand, so pure in the eyes of a child.
For how adorable they are, I can’t say I felt prepared to travel with them. I wasn’t sure what a family vacation would look like, let alone a family trip to Disneyland, where long lines and hunger and sheer want could easily incite tantrums and tears.
And yet. They were angels, still. Unbelievable! I marveled at their polite curiosity and gratitude, their lack of selfish attitude. Who are these children? I wondered. And how on earth did their parents raise them to behave so well?
While I would love nothing better than to plan and prepare for this unfamiliar feat, parenting is just plain foreign. And what’s worse, you can’t train for it (excluding the daily practice of selflessness).
But what I can do is observe, taking mental notes along the way. And what I saw in their parenting was constant direction by way of affirmation and gentle discipline, with plenty of room to just let the kids be kids. They were never left to decide what was right or wrong; their parents made it very clear. But more than that, I realized, behaviors must be modeled (as they were). Those kids are generous because Grannie and Papa are generous. They obey because their parents genuinely care for them and love them; the kids simply know they can trust them.
It reminds me of a quote I recently stumbled upon in a little coffee shop book by Liz Smith. It comes from a 4-year-old boy named Billy: “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
That’s the thing about trust. It is safe. It allows us to breathe easy and obey. Because someone else is looking out for you, you can just settle into yourself and just be. No worries, no stress, no tricks up the sleeve. I so badly want to trust my Abba Father that way. To know that He has my best interest in mind and to obey. To laugh a great belly laugh when the time comes, and to love without worrying if someone will love me back by the same measure. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said:
“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15)