We go to a lot of parks…sometimes two a day. I bring snacks and water guns; I play tag on equipment that was never designed for a woman of my elevation to be on; I occasionally back flip off the swings; I make sure the dog is able to pee in at least 45 different locations; I monitor my kids closely to make sure they are being kind and respectful to everyone there. When it comes down to it, I’m an awesome park mom. That is just true. (Keep reading and you will see how quickly this unravels.)
Once a week, though, the snacks, the dog, and the shoes-fit-for-tag stay at home and I bring a book instead. I make it clear before we leave that this going to be a play-by-yourself-so-I-can-read kind of excursion, so the kids are cool with Mom indulging in some fleeting rejuvenating down time.
On one recent outing (oh, who am I kidding? I wrote this post months ago before I gave up blogging for…uh…Lent? Sorry about that.), I settled in at a picnic table with Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and gave it a little peck (that’s how much I loved it), fully intending to make a good dent in it before the sun dropped behind the canyon.
I was able to get through a whole two paragraphs before Evan started shouting at Landon to stop chasing him. Another paragraph or so later, it was Selah yelling, “Top it, Wandon. TOP. IT.” Something about trapping her in the tube slide. At this point I raised my hand in the air, stared down my oldest boy and belted out in my most sarcastic tone, “Seriously? S-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y? Figure it out, dude. No wants to be around you right now.”
That compassionate parenting move bought me another three paragraphs of reading time before the sky rained down a football on my table.
WHAT THE WHAT?
With that, I outlawed punting, sent the perpetrator and his little brother to the far side of the park, and managed to make it through three entire pages of 7 before deciding I was getting cold (remember this happened in, um, March) and wanted to head home soon…
And then I heard it. The sound of flesh fusing with pavement and the kind of high-pitched shriek that suggests there is blood involved.
If his glasses are broken again, someone restrain me.
Landon insisted he was just “tagging” Evan from behind, but I knew better. He was mid-NFL fantasy, out to tackle and dominate.
I checked for broken glasses (not this time) and blood (a little) and ordered everyone to their bikes for an immediate departure. Evan had to walk his bike because his hands and knees were still full of concrete; Landon was intuitive enough to ride off the fastest but not mindful enough to remember his football, leaving me with a dilemma: pick up the football myself, or call the little twerp back to get it himself.
High road? What high road? I see no high road. Get back here, Mister.
Landon was really far ahead and Evan knew this so, with bloody hands still trembling, he said, “I can go get it for him, Mommy.”
“No way, Evan. He needs to take responsibility. It’s his football, so it’s his problem.”
“But, really, Mommy, I can go back and get it. It’s right over there.”
“NO. That is nice of you, but NO. Wait here.”
When my voice caught up to Landon (and the rest of the neighborhood), I sent him back to get the ball, which I knew he wasn’t going to be able to carry while riding the bike. Let’s see how he manages this.
(Now would be a good time to think back to how awesome I said I was.)
I was still fuming over everything—the interruptions, the assault, the ruining of my time with Jen—when Evan, the one who was really sinned against in the whole charade, dropped his bike alongside his right to get even and ran to help Landon carry the ball.
The sight wrecked me.
When Evan made it back to where I was standing, he handed me the ball and said, “My hands feel better now. I think I can ride home.”
Of course they feel better. You just acted like Jesus. And, me? Phish.
Andy Stanley once preached a message on how it’s far easier to make a point than it is to make a difference. That truth was obvious to me as I walked home shaking my head. Clearly I was trying to make a point with Landon. Evan, on the other hand, was trying to make a difference…and he did, for all of us.
When we got home I let Evan know how proud I was of him for acting like Jesus, and I apologized to Landon for being too angry and selfish to do likewise. It was important to me to let Evan know that he taught me something, and I really wanted Landon to understand that I know I still have a lot to learn.
In the end,grace prevailed and made a whole lot of difference all around, “so now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9