Kids Do the Darnedest Things
Mr. 4-Ever was out of town so
I was alone watching the tornado’s swirling formations on the weather channel
when sirens started blaring their warning.
Outside, the sky was greenish gray and there wasn’t a wisp of wind.
Almost simultaneously, a text notification beeped on my cell phone.
A tornado warning had been issued and my house was in its path.
Suddenly, the back door banged open and
Eli, my firefighter son, burst in calling loudly,
Where are you?”
“I’m in the office, Eli.
What are you doing here?”
“Mom, I heard the warning on my scanner and
I came over to be with you in case you were scared.”
Before I could even get the
Aww, that’s so sweet of you
out of my mouth, he started issuing directives.
“Get a bottle of water,
a blanket and a flashlight and
go to the basement NOW!”
“Eli, I have to get my Bible and the family photos!
I need my purse and the box with the passports and birth certificates.”
He looked at me earnestly and said,
“Mom, there’s no time.”
“Eli,” I argued,”I have to have them.”
Outside, the wind was whipping tree branches
and the rain pelted against the windowpanes.
“Mom, I’m serious. Get in the basement!”
I grabbed my Bible because it was in my path to the basement,
but knew there was no getting past him to collect anything else.
I headed down to the basement –
a Michigan basement (blech) –
to wait out the storm.
Eli did not follow.
“What are you doing?” I shouted up to him,
“Why do I have to be down here and you don’t?”
“I’m a trained professional, Mom.
I’m closing up the house and I’ll be right there.”
When he arrived moments later, he said,
“Ok, the house is as ready as it can be.
All we can do now is wait and pray.”
I admired his calm and thought to myself
what a good job I had done raising him.
I take all the credit when my kids do something good.
Their father gets the blame
for all the dangerous or foolish stuff.
Eli broke my silent admiration.
He turned to me and said with complete sincerity,
“I’ll let you know when it’s safe to go upstairs.”
Honestly, Girlfriend, I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud
or set him straight on who should be in charge of an all clear.
I decided to yield.
You can’t expect children to become
leaders who take responsibility
if you never give them any!
As we sat together in a corner of my fieldstone basement, I asked him,
“Eli, when did you get all grown up and bossy?”
He smiled at me and said,
“I learned from the best.”
The storm passed.
Aside from a few limbs in the yard, we escaped unscathed.
It did my heart good to see Eli’s concern, compassion and leadership.
When kids are under your roof and on your last nerve,
it’s easy to lose sight of the goal.
To train them up so they don’t need you.
To teach them to make decisions and solve problems so they can manage tough choices and people.
To foist responsibility on them so the weight of being an adult doesn’t crush them.
There were seasons when I was sure they’d never get it.
I wore my jeans thin at the knees praying the connections in their brains to work.
There were seasons when the music was so loud and the tempers were so short
I thought we’d all burst into flames.
There were broken bones and broken hearts
There were crashed cars and chainsaw accidents.
There were so many moments I didn’t think we’d make it,
but we did.
And now, I miss those days.
When you have raised your children,
they leave you with a wave and grin,
because you have taught them to be
brave and bulletproof because
you love them and so does their Heavenly Father.
To all the mamas out there who are sending a child off to kindergarten or college soon,
wipe the tears from your eyes and know the work you do as a mom
is the most important mission field you will ever have.
I pray that every once in a while, you catch a glimpse of your efforts in action.
That you learn to enjoy a house that stays clean and a full refrigerator.
And that your children have learned the best of your love.
As you lament your quiet house,
take comfort in the knowing
you’ve done your best.
They will be back – if only for a visit …
or to save your life from a tornado warning.
Prayer: God, I need you to raise my children to know and love you. The ones in my home, the ones on their own, the ones in the nursery and the ones down the block. Give me patience and stamina, Lord, You know how hard it is. You raised me. Amen.