June 21, 2012

A lesson in kisses

   I've been playing a game with Rori for the past few weeks where I give her a bunch of kisses and then turn my cheek and ask her to "give mommy kisses". Surprisingly she caught on pretty quickly and opens her mouth as wide as she can to lightly touch my cheek.  I have even gotten her to interrupt  a crying fit to lean over and give me one of her slobbery (but special) kisses. Of course they're not real kisses yet, but without a doubt she gets the idea. While I LOVE her kisses, from the start I've known it's just a learned behavior - I give her a series of kisses and she has learned the response. But today while we were playing I decided to throw it out there and asked her to give me kisses with no other prompts. Sure enough, she leaned over and put her mouth on my cheek. 
   I repeated the scenario a few times just to see if it was a fluke - nope, definitely not. She knew what I was asking. And naturally with my overly active thoughts, I started wondering if there were other things that she could understand, and very quickly I became frightenedawedoverwhelmed,  struck with the incredible responsibility Brian and I have of raising, training, and guiding this little child.
   If she is beginning to understand things, then she is beginning to think. And she's starting to make choices and soon enough will understand consequences - good or bad. And her thoughts and impressions of the world around her and the people around her will begin to form. And on and on it goes.
   The immense intentional thought parenting requires frightens me because I haven't a clue where to begin. For years I have found myself looking at the surrounding world and thinking, "There has got to be something more. Something that we're just not getting." And so I've thought that about parenting. There's got to be something more. There has got to be a way to raise children in the church and yet not have them think that "Christian culture' is what Christianity is about. There has to be a way to grow your children up on Bible stories without them getting bored and un-enthralled with with the stories of God. There must be a way to raise your child in the world while teaching them how to not be of it. And I am convinced there is a way to teach a child the heart of God and not just the misunderstandings of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. 
   But I am at a loss as to what that all looks like, and yet the time is here. It would be such an injustice to Rori if we didn't take our parenting seriously - if we didn't give it a thought now while she's still learning how to think. To be intentional about all our interactions with her and all our responses to her sounds absolutely exhausting - especially when we don't have a grasp on what road to start down.  Where do we begin knowing how to shape and guide a heart and soul? I haven't a clue, but I think I'm beginning to realize the reality of the old stories of mothers "burning the midnight oil in prayer."

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