I decided to take the little kids out on a walk. Their energy levels were in need of some outlet and I wanted to take in the sights of a town decked out in fall colors. We checked the temperature and decided against a jacket and headed down our street.
Now, the Mom in me seems to think that if we are walking anywhere, down the street or into the store it is always best to hold hands. I love holding my kids’ hands. My oldest is 18 and I don’t mind one bit grabbing a hold of her hand as we walk. This instinct is especially high when I am walking with any child under the age of 5. So, as we were walking down the street I grabbed a hold of my daughter’s hand.
Anna is three and wants the independence of her 18 year old sister. She detests that she needs help cutting her meat at dinner, or that she has to ask for help in getting the toothpaste onto her brush. So, if there is a task that she is capable of doing without help, she wants to do the task to the fullest, without one ounce of help. Walking would be a task that she has mastered quite well. She does not need someone to hold her hand; and on this particular walk her request was right in order. “Mom, can I walk by myself?”
I love developing my children’s independence. I firmly believe that I am raising my kids to be able to function on their own and try my best to allow them the ability to do things for themselves. With this belief in the back of my mind, I agreed that she could walk on her own.
She began skipping and jumping over the cracks in the sidewalk. She was completely enjoying the walk and her ability to do it all. by. herself. Then she turned and asked if we could play the game. The game is something we started a long time ago (perhaps when Abbey and Rachel were little – I can’t remember); but it is a game that is enjoyed by Anna as if she was the only one who has ever played it. The game goes like this: They run forward and wait for me to call out ‘stop’. Then when they hear the command, they stop until I call out the next command: ‘go’. Upon hearing the two letter word they take off until they hear the word ‘stop’ again. We just keep repeating the sequence; mainly to give mom (who is walking, not running) a chance to catch up.
I agreed and we played the game. “Go” is always followed by giggles and the patter of little feet running or jumping at will. Then I say ‘stop’ and the silence that follows is always music to my ears. Not that I mind the noise of giggles but because I love the sound of obedience. As I catch up to the kiddos I tell them to go and the giggles resume and I can’t help but smile.
On this particular day, we played our game. I shouted the commands and they played the game; but today my youngest decided to keep running on the command ‘stop’. She was testing the rules; not the rules of the game; but a principle we live by. Obedience. You see, that is the whole purpose of the game. In the game I am giving them a training session disguised in a game. I am teaching them that when I say something I want immediate obedience. I am teaching this because I want them to know that when they hear the word ‘stop’ they know immediately what to do. The training game was revealing that this child needed more training on the principle that I was trying to instill in her little heart and mind.
I called her to me. “Anna, Momma told you to stop and you did not obey.” She understood exactly what I was saying because I could see the guilt in her eyes. I continued, “When Momma tells you to do something I expect you to listen and to obey. Because you did not listen to Mom you will have to hold my hand for a little while and think about listening.”
We walked on a little further. Hand in hand. In a few minutes I asked her if she wanted to play the game again. She nodded in her agreement. I loosened the grip on her hand and said the command, “Go”. She took off skipping and laughing. I let her go a little longer than I normally do before I gave the “Stop” command. “Stop” I said making sure it was loud enough for her to hear. Immediately her little feet stopped in their tracks and she stood there waiting for the “go”. I repeated the game a couple more times. She played along perfectly; then she turned around and looked at Zak. It was her insight that amazed and pleased me.
“Mom is teaching us to obey.”
Then she turned around and looked at me with a great big smile on her face, “Look Mom, I am obeying you!” She was as pleased with herself as I was.
So we finished our walk playing our game and we came home all the ore better because we had learned. Anna had learned another valuable lesson in obedience and I had been reminded once again that training takes place all day long and in every situation that we have.
“God give me wisdom to seize each training opportunity that is presented to me. God help me to parent on purpose. To allow every walk, every meal time every school lesson to be an opportunity to reach the heart of my child and claim it for God.”