Saturday, October 8, 2011

Locked Into Childhood

Oh, how I anticipated the evening out to see old friends. I was eager to reconnect, and enjoy a rare gourmet dinner. But the man seated next to me was so needy of attention he drained the joy right out of the evening. He wore me out.

In Garden Graces, Janice Elsheimer warns us about unattended garden soil that produces nothing but pitiful blooms. Alas, the "dried-out soil that needs constant watering" was sitting next to me. Hopelessly insecure, the man sought from anyone around him the approval denied him as a child. Unaware of his need, and hardly to blame, I doubt the young man ever shakes off the barren soil of his childhood.

How do parents enrich the soil of childhood to "grow" a child into the person God intends him to be? And when? Don't wait to bungee-jump into his life when he's old enough for Little League or Scouts. You miss teaching your child the self-esteem and character traits you want locked into his childhood, and ultimately, his adulthood.

Jump in now! If all you have are quick minutes of attention, use them. Minutes of on-the-floor play, playing whatever he want to play, delight a child. Blend him into the scattered chunks of time that consume your days, "helping" you put away groceries, cook, clean, do laundry, even exercise. Talk all the while. Remember to punctuate your together time with warm hugs that remind your child you love being with him.

Like a tender new garden plant, your child is fragile, demanding, and totally dependent on you. But the watering "up front" in his early years allows him to thrive in every new stage of development. When tended well, the outcome is a masterpiece. Yours.

A Colorful Thought: Your minutes together, listening and caring, cultivate the rich soil of an extraordinary childhood.

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