If you didn’t already know it, children are sponges; they absorb everything. When television executives say their programs don’t influence behavior in children, I laugh at their foolishness. If that were the case, why during cartoons do you see tons of commercials for toys and sugar cereals? I don’t think I’m enlightening anyone to the fact that children don’t miss a thing.
Some years ago before my father retired as a pastor, he visited the home of a family who had a very spoiled child. The four year old boy was untamed, undisciplined, and temperamental. My father was paying a dinner visit and as the boy’s parents worked in the kitchen, he was relegated to watching the child. My father is a master with children, they love him. However this one was challenging.
As my father sat on the sofa, the child would run at him with his head down and try to butt my father in the stomach with his head. Each time my father would say NO and push him away, he would start all over again and try harder to be even more obnoxious. Finally on his fourth attempt of being a nuisance, my father took his knuckle and when the child tried to ram him again, he thumped him on top of his head. The little boy stumbled backwards, glared at my father, then ran into his bedroom. Moments later he returned with a toy plastic chain saw. He quickly pulled the string to make the realistic sound of a working chainsaw and promptly tried to saw my father’s arm off for spite. Knowing my Dad, I can only imagine it took all of his reserves not to drop kick this petulant child through the goal posts of life.
When my wife was in the hospital having just given birth to our daughter, my next door neighbor approached my three year old son and me. He said, “If you want, I have some movies that will make you want your wife to come home quicker.” Knowing my neighbors penchant for some movies that featured scantily clad women, I made up a movie title and responded, “Well if your movies are something like “Garage Girls” I’m not interested. He laughed and said, “Yeah, something like that, but I knew you wouldn’t be interested.” Nothing more was said of the incident and it never came up again in conversation for three days. That is until I took my son to church.
As we were entering the door of our little country church, we passed our saintly pastor in the hallway. Just as we were to ascend the stairs to the sanctuary he stopped me and said, “John, as part of the social committee, could you recommend a movie the church family could watch together this weekend?” Instantly as if on cue my son shouts out for all the world to hear, “Yeah, how about garage girls?” My pastor’s face registered absolute shock and at that moment there was not a rock big enough to hide my embarrassment. Looking down at my child I said sternly, “Son, where in the world did you hear that?” I was praying fervently at that moment he wouldn’t blurt out, “YOU”.
That moment became my epiphany on raising children; they really don’t miss a thing. You know, all of us have moments in our lives that test our faith and courage. Taking our children to meet the pastor is one of them.