RITE OF PASSAGE: Parenting
I wonder what criteria God uses to decide whose prayers He answers. Parents are praying and fasting for schools to be open tomorrow. An innocent child folds his hands and, on bended knees, asks God to bring more snow so he can build a “snow church.” If I were God, which prayer would I answer? “Let it snow, let it snow!”
A lot of things change as you grow older. Physical changes are the most obvious ones. Sitting at the breakfast table the other day, I heard “snap, crackle, pop” . . . and I wasn’t eating cereal. Even getting up becomes a challenge. As a young man, I jumped off the sofa in a single bound, hitting the floor running. These days, I find myself forced to use a rocking motion before even attempting something that resembles jumping or running. I used to work long, hard hours, take a short nap and start all over again. These days, I find myself taking long hard naps, getting up and . . . going to bed. Then there is that embarrassing moment when you try to straighten out the wrinkles in your socks . . . only to discover you’re not wearing any.
But I also have discovered some things I like about myself as an older person. I noticed one just last week as I waited in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. I sat across from a young couple with a child who couldn’t have been more than a month old. The baby was hungry and beginning to fuss. The mother was doing her best, trying to prepare the formula quickly while the father attempted to soothe the infant’s cries by bouncing her up and down. I could see the young husband was becoming impatient with his weary wife. Instead of helping his mate, he kept pressuring her to work faster. A wave of sadness welled inside me, because 20-some years earlier, the impatient young father was . . . me. Over the years, God has been working to melt this crusty old heart. I asked the couple if I could do anything to help. They assured me they had everything under control, but I knew I could say a prayer for them.
Recently, my wife and I have been asking couples with young children to let us give them a break by watching the kids for an evening. We don’t have grandchildren of our own . . . yet. Still, we are at the age where we can serve as surrogate grandparents. Today, people often live far away from their extended family members. Helping with their children brings blessings on all sides.
The other day we were taking care of a young man, a grand total of 10 weeks old, named JJ Nunley. My wife laid him on the floor to change his diaper. The next thing I knew, a fountain was spraying through the air at eye level.
I couldn’t help but laugh. I had forgotten: when you change a little boy’s diaper, you have to be prepared for sudden leaks. Years ago, I would have gotten mad and worried about wet carpet. Now, I thank God that JJ’s plumbing is “well made,” and my crusty old heart can . . . rejoice.