Monday, January 29, 2007


bois·ter·ous: rough and noisy; noisily jolly or rowdy; clamorous; unrestrained.

I was a boisterous child, apparently. No, actually, by my own definition, I would say that my behaviour agreed with the definition listed above. My brothers, at least the younger four, were boisterous as well.

I used to have "slugging" matches with my next older brother. We'd take turns hitting each other on the arm as hard as we could until one of us gave up.

While looking at a 1943 picture of my parents, I began to wonder why I have it on display beside my computer. I was taken aback to realize it was not bringing me warm feelings. Perhaps it was the memory of being labeled a "boisterous" girl. Perhaps it was the turbulence of a less-than-fulfilling relationship with my father. Perhaps it reminds me of where where I fell short. Perhaps it is that I am judging myself in light of what they taught me was right and wrong. Not inspirational. And not their fault, really.

All of us fall short. It is by grace we are saved. As my son is growing I realize all the things I haven't taught him. My parents had eight of us to "fall short" in training. They loved God, they did the best they knew, and they prayed like crazy about the rest of it. My dad often seemed saddened by his children's behavior. It was a heavy burden that my father bore unnecessarily to the end of his life.

At some point we need to release the boisterous child. We work to train and equip them with necessary skills, we strive to guide them in character, we try to model the virtues we want them to embrace, we encourage their spiritual growth and love for God, we anguish over when to intervene and how to discipline, we enable as many opportunities as we can for them to excel academically, artistically and athletically; and then we must progressively release them and pray like crazy about the rest.

To a certain extent, a child is a product of his environment. However, a child matures and grows and becomes responsible for his own choices. His life is impacted by peers, teachers, youth leaders, books and the media, some of which are virtual "slugging matches". His success as an adult is not guaranteed or doomed by my parenting. His victories and defeats are influenced by his upbringing but he is responsible for his choices, his attitude and his response.

And when he is 49, sitting at his computer, I pray he will look at my picture and know nothing else but the contentment of this:

That I love him and I am proud of him.

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