a blustery January morning, when my firstborn Aaron (now 40) was six years old,
I did him the “favor” of warming his coat (a “puffy” nylon jacket) by holding
it near the space heater. I accidentally got it too close and a small spot on
the inside melted, wrinkled and puckered. I reasoned this was unfortunate but
“okay” because the outside was still pristine. Aaron, on the other hand,
did not want to wear it because it was now marred.
Being The Mom, I dug in my heels, put the jacket on him and sent him out to ride with the lady driving the car pool that week. I was disturbed when she returned with Aaron in tow and reported he was upset about his coat and had resisted getting out of the car.
I told him no one could possibly know the jacket was less than perfect and he was going to back to school and was going to wear that jacket. I promptly returned him to school. I wrote a note about why he was late, put him out at the curb and satisfied with the exercise of my parental will, I watched him make his way to the door.
Later that morning I attended a service of our Bible conference. I do not remember what the preacher’s text was, but I do remember he (in his 60’s) talked about his mother, and as he did, he wept. Recalling her sacrifice for him and still grieving her absence in his life, he spoke of her with tenderness and deep love.
At that moment, my life as a parent changed forever, when I thought, “When Aaron grows up, is this how he will remember me?”
After the service, I drove straight to the elementary school. I went to the office and asked for Aaron. When he arrived, I took him in my arms and asked him to forgive me, told him I was wrong to behave the way I did and assured him I would buy him a new coat.
Later that day I wrote the following poem.
Riding to school in the family car—
The walk to my classroom (it seemed so far!)
Would I face a problem only my parents could fix?
Lord, help me remember what it’s like to be six.
Wanting to help and not knowing how;
Wanting to watch and hearing “not now”;
Having to share, but wanting it all.
Lord, help me remember what it’s like to be small.
Lord, help me remember that what I see
As a simple problem, to my son may be
One that defeats him and steals his smile.
Lord, help me to stop and listen awhile.
And when he’s a man, Lord, may his memory find
A voice that was tender, a face that was kind,
A heart that was touched by his sorrows and fears.
Lord, help him remember with smiling tears.