I adore my boys. I'm not sure if they've been changing, or I have new eyes to see all the wonderful things they think to do for me. Either way, I am treasuring up all these days in my heart. I find it easy to get along with my little ladies, they're subdued, helpful, and eager to please. But the boys? Oh, they're singing rowdy songs, at top volume, while loading the dishwasher and I'm yelling, "Please, quiet down." They are idea factories for making any job less work. The boys beg for computer games all day, though they know the rules full well. The boys are all about leaving socks in every nook and cranny of the house and yard. They love a floor strewn with Legos. Is there a noise they want to make once? Well, a thousand times might be better. They're good, but they're boys. I have one grown boy here, my husband, and when I sigh in despair, he reminds me, "He's just being a boy." (Well, not every time, but you know, sometimes. Occasionally the situation calls for something else.) But lately?
I see all this sweetness coming out in them, all this thoughtful consideration. Lately, Sam likes to make my coffee in the morning, and I walk in the dining room to see him beaming with pleasure. Today, he jumped up and volunteered to make me breakfast. "One bagel, lots of butter, right?" I'm suddenly amazed by a boy who does his chore without being asked. After ten years of direct commands, standing over him to supervise, then graduating to not so subtle hints, then subtler hints, I think maybe, just maybe, we have made progress.
Arden is not about to be left out. Sure, at five we're at an entirely different stage in the training process. But this boy, this one who at two left me in tears at the end of every single day, is suddenly obeying right away. Not every time, but sometimes. This boy is anxious to help. He listens so thoughtfully to his Bible stories. He picks flowers and brings them to his mom. I've had one bouquet of tired spring blooms today, plus a hearty violet that I dared to set down, and Arden brought it to me again.
I'm hopeful. For years I've despaired because we don't live on a farm showered by rain and sun, with free flowing air, fields to plow and work for these boys. The farm seems the panacea to all boyhood ills. Instead God has set us here, on our little city lot. So I focus on being faithful where we are, we'll begin small and trust God with those greater goals of forming these boys into men. They have the best of examples in their father, which is a richness beyond measure. We have prayer and God's guide book for boys, Proverbs. Think how many times Solomon says, "Listen my son,..." (I am indebted to Kevin Swanson and his CD series Vision for Generations for that idea.) We employ perseverance and lots of encouragement. I love to brag about their latest good action, right in front of them, when Dad comes home. Bet you can't guess what Sam just did? They flourish in the pleasure of their father, and I trust in time, in the pleasure of God the Father as well.
As I typed Arden came past and wondered where I had put my pretty flowers. In the kitchen? Much too far away. He gathered them and brought them to the couch, sorting them by kind. He realized I needed more and disappeared into the sunshine to gather more, flowers so dry they crinkle while he pulls them from his fist. His voice squeaking with pleasure he announces a new kind, a common weed, laid out beside the others. Even a weed can be token of love.
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.