People are watching us. Our children watch us and imitate us as part of their learning experience. Their gaze will shift from us to others in their world, and they will imitate them, too. At least the ones they admire.
Other Christians are also watching us, seeing how we react, what we say, what we do.
Those who are not Christians are also watching us, seeing how we react, what we say, what we do.
Years ago, when Alice was 4 or 5 and Mark was 8 or 9, they went to a daycare facility all day during the summer. I was a real stickler for rules, so the kids knew to follow all the rules while they were there. Not to say that they always did, but I expected them to and they knew it. The daycare would take everybody swimming or to the putt-putt, stuff like that, so they would have a little extra money to buy a Coke or a candy bar while on their outing. One day, as I was driving them home, Alice said her teacher told her that she couldn't bring extra money anymore. She said that the other kids could bring money, but she (Alice) could not. That sounded odd to me, so I asked Mark about it. He said no one told his class that they could not bring extra money. Mark was getting upset about it, telling me I ought to call the owner of the daycare and tell her off, because Alice wasn't hurting anyone and there was no reason for her to be singled out.
Let me say here that it was a semi-miracle that Mark stood up for Alice. Mark was the typical big brother who wouldn't allow his little sister into his world.
I thought a moment, thought about the daycare owner and what I knew about her and how everyone at the daycare went about their jobs. And I pretty well knew why Alice's teacher would do this. Alice was a very cheerful child, easy to get along with, wanting to please, bringing little gifts of weedy flowers that had been crushed in her little, hot hand. But she was also a high maintenance child, always losing a shoe right before church, wandering off at the slightest provocation, chattering constantly, and falling down a lot which meant lots and lots of skinned up knees. It seemed her little knees would never heal fully before she had skinned them up again. She was somewhat clumsy, so usually her battered knees came from tripping over her own feet. But she was so cute and sweet, everybody kind of overlooked all of that. Usually.
I highly suspected that Alice's teacher was tired of the extra work Alice made for her. As Mark ranted and raved, I formed a plan. "Listen and learn," I said to him as I dialed the daycare center and asked for the owner.
It was really pretty simple. We always played by the rules, so I figured that the kids needed to see the rules in action. When I told the owner what happened, I asked if the rules had changed, because if they had, then we would abide by the new rules. I said all of this in a conversational way, without anger or righteous indignation. The owner was immediately apologetic and said that certainly Alice could bring her extra money, that Alice's teacher would be spoken to about this, and that Alice was a sweet, loving child and she could use a lot more like her. Just for emphasis, I asked again if the rules had changed, and the owner said they had not. I thanked her for her time and hung up.
I looked at my son and said, "See? You don't have to get mad to get results." I don't know if he remembers that episode in our lives that happened around 30 years ago, but I remember it because it really brought home to me that my children were watching me and learning how to deal with life through me and my husband.
Never hurts to be reminded that others are watching. But most importantly, God is watching, and I don't want to do anything that would grieve him in any way. It's impossible on my own, but with Christ and the Holy Spirit, it's possible indeed.
2nd Titus 2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good.