I love logic and efficiency, but there’s not really much logical or efficient about a 5-year-old boy.
As a parent of a kindergartener, I deal with some unreasonableness, and I get to say pretty interesting things. Things I’ve never said before. Things like, “Please don’t put your toe in your mouth,” and, “We don’t have to announce our farts,” and, “Yes, I’m sure I don’t have a baby in my tummy,” and, “The amount of time you just spent arguing about washing your hands was about fifteen times longer than it would have taken for you to just wash your hands the first time mom asked.”
As much as I love the direct path between A and B, these days, my life looks a lot more like those Family Circus cartoons where Billy dotted-lines his way around the neighborhood instead of just walking the five feet to the mailbox. (L. has decided that crawling under his bed is the best “short cut” to anywhere.)
“Do you know about God?” was the first question L. ever asked me. The first of approximately 2,598,356,781 questions I’ve answered in the last six weeks. We’ve been a family for six weeks. Crazy. It simultaneously feels like he just got here and he’s always been here.
It’s his favorite question—do you know about God? “Mom, does my teacher know about God?” I don’t know, buddy; you’ll have to ask her. “Them, too,” pointing at his lawyer and social worker sitting at our kitchen table, “Do they know about God and Jesus?” I’ve watched in amazement at the guileless joy this child takes in knowing God and asking other people if they know Him, too.
As a single, working foster mom, I always feel behind, and I feel like I’ve been having a lot of Martha moments lately. We recently drove past a man with a cardboard sign. We were in a hurry, and I didn’t have eyes to see anything but our potential productivity for the afternoon. All of a sudden, from the back seat I hear, “Mom! Mom! Did you see that man?! He had a sign. I think he’s homeless. He has a sad face, and we need to help him. We have a home. He can come live with us!”
Of course, I had to explain that he couldn’t live with us, but we could still help him. I drove L. to Wendy’s where he picked out French fries and chicken nuggets to share. (He also picked a Frosty, but I had to bring some logic and suggest we stick with coffee because it was cold outside.) We drove back to where he spotted the man. L climbed out of the car and hid the food behind his back as he walked over because it was a “surprise.” We’re big into surprises these days.
L. bent down next to the man huddled under a blanket and said, “Hey, we got some food for you.” L. prattled away learning his name was Zach, showing him the chicken nuggets and his karate moves and stopping every now and then to give him a hug. I don’t think he noticed the tears in Zach’s eyes. I asked him if he wanted to pray for our new friend. He put his hand on Zach’s shoulder and looked at him in a knowing way, saying, “We know about God.”
After we prayed and said goodbye, L. practically danced back to the car he was so happy. “I’ve never done anything like that before! That was fun! We should do that every day!”
This little guy hasn’t let the hard things in his life make him hard. Instead, it’s made him more sensitive to others in need. He saw something on that man’s face that he recognized because he’s been there. It’s been a week and a half, and still every time he prays for our food, he adds, “And, Lord, I thank you for our friend Mr. Zach.”
…you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.