I adamantly maintain that there are two transitions in life that teach you more than any others. The first is having a second child. The second is well, I won’t say, because everyone has at least one uniquely educational transition that I don’t know about!
But back to the first one: the second one. If kid #2 is uncharted territory for you, here’s the scoop, and I draw from the collective wisdom of a nigh scientifically acceptable sample size of parental experiences. The primary goal of your second child is to be sure nothing you learned parenting your first child is universally applicable. The upside is that you get to learn twice as much as your kids; the downside is that you have to do it with an infant and a toddler wreaking havoc!
In fact, it’s quite shocking how much you learn from your tots, and even more surprising what you learn. We know-deep or not so deep down-that we as adults don’t have it all figured out. But then our kids effortlessly surface how much of even what we did consider figured out to need some fine-tuning. It’s humbling but also rewarding, as we are better people and even better understand our purpose and place here as a result of our pediatric professors.
Enjoy a sampling of their seminars below…would you agree?
1. The joy of simple wonder and beauty is worth setting aside a little supposed sophistication.
“DUMP TRUCK!” Actually it sounds more like “DUP DUP!”, but wow, does the sound of anything resembling an engine get my littlest one awe-inspired and excited! For his brother, ’twas the mighty streetsweeper. And for both-even still-the 1-cent horse ride at Meijer is wonderfully awesome. I have to admit, a piece of me wishes I could hop on ole Sandy and enjoy it as much as they do, but instead I have mature adult fun spending 100 times as long waiting and 4500 times the money to get the same 2-minute amount of thrill on my favorite roller coaster that they do on Sandy. Sure, the Millennium Force is truly fantastic, but perhaps the wonder and beauty in the trees, trucks, bugs, buildings, dirt, pebbles, and people so immediately accessible to us for free deserve greater attention and appreciation.
2. Adults act as immaturely as children more than children do.
This one’s just plain embarrassing. Here’s my guilty confession: Driving around in impatience saying something less than nice to the person in front of me, and then having my kid repeat it. ‘Cuz you know, that 3 seconds earlier I would have arrived at my destination matters. D’oh! Adults-including myself-have me absolutely convinced that the complaining, bias, prejudice, ignorance, tempers, and close-mindedness we so often label as immature are so much more prevalent in us than in our kids. We just pretend they’re not because we know how to cover all these up…until it’s uncovered again in some way by junior. There are reasons God calls us his children; we act like them a lot, don’t we? Thanks boys for showing me where I need to grow up!
3. If only you would listen to me, you’re life would be so much better!
But be not depressed, all you parents out there! This one’s about what we do right! Well kind of. It goes like this: Your obviously sweet and angelic super-stinker sneaked his way up onto the hearth you have done your darnedest to keep him off of, then dove headfirst into the surprisingly solid pool known to others as the living room floor. Lots of crying, holding, and standard-of-care- assessments of the cervical spine ensue (doctor dad to the rescue!). Then when all is well, I often say to my child, “If only you would listen to me, your life would be so much better!” And then I am struck by how often God my Father must say the same words to me. (Click to tweet) One great truth I have learned in just the last few years is how our relationships here-for all their earthly necessity and significance-are primarily meant to teach us in some way about our relationship to God. There are reasons God calls himself our Father, and we understand them-and therefore him-much better when we experience from children what he experiences from his.
4. We were all created to be teachers.
And many of these experiences don’t concern our shortcomings, but rather our successes! One of the greatest joys of being around any kid is how much you can teach them. Of course this education can be good or bad, but virtually every parent likes to teach their kids at least some good things. Who doesn’t enjoy explaining an interesting fact to a child once the light goes on with a big smile? Or when you walk them through a new skill, and they end up being good at and loving it! Well, there’s a reason for that too: God loves to teach us, and our creator created us to love teaching as well. Whether it’s humbly and responsibly exploring the secrets of his creation or the wisdom of his words, he loves to teach his kids well and creates us to teach ours well too. No education degree required! No summers off either I guess, but still.
5. There is a love that never fails, no matter how much it hurts.
I sit here right now with a knot of pain in my lower back, the posterior iliac crest for those medical nerds like me. It has hurt quite a lot every time I roll over in bed, enter/exit a car, put on my pants, and tie my shoes. The mean people out there would say I’m getting old, but really I’m just suffering the inevitable physical consequences if immersing myself in the lives of two rambunctious boys. And getting old. As I was removing one from danger, the other’s remarkably hard and pointy body came crashing into my right flank. Ow. And that’s just the tiniest fraction of the blunt and penetrating trauma I’ve endured at their hands (or more likely elbows and knees). But the love that keeps getting me right back in the ring is just the tiniest fraction of the love that kept and keeps God undergoing much greater trauma to immerse himself in our lives to remove us from danger. To be taught by children how much you would suffer for them and then realize that you are a child who was suffered for even more by the sacrifice God made in Jesus is perhaps the greatest thing you can learn from your kids. (Click to tweet) I guess even when they’re a literal pain in the butt, there are some things only my kids can teach me.
Discover more of the powerful and practical ways God uses our relationships with others to teach us so much about our relationship with him in my free e-book series Healing Hereafter, instantly and always available here!