Perhaps there’s hope. He’s only seven. So I figure I have 11 more years with him under my roof, where his very food and shelter may be leveraged in the shaping of his character.
Levi Kyle is our precocious, out-spoken, Type-A+, heart-on-his-sleeve, leader-in-training, seven-year-old tornado-on-wheels of a boy. He says what he thinks. All the time. I love that kid so much.
Where little girls (from what I’m told) only ripen into ever-increasing layers of complexity and emotional nuance, we are the parents of BOYS. There’s not so much nuanced about their snips and snails and puppy dog tails. And Levi has been endowed with an extra measure of boy-ness from His creator. What Levi thinks comes out his face in a rush. We’re working on it.
One of the blessings of people with a Levi-like personality is the immediacy with which you know exactly what they are thinking. Whether solicited or not, you will get their opinion on the matter. Whatever is the matter in the moment. So listening to Levi as he grows up is an open window to his character development. It’s fascinating. Equal parts thrilling, comedic, and on occasion… a little unnerving.
“Dad, I want a credit card.”
“You have to be older. They won’t give you a credit card. It’s a big responsibility.”
“What’s the big deal? You just give people your credit card, and they give you whatever you want. Easy.”
“Right. But then you have to pay for that stuff.”
“WHAT?! It’s NOT FAIR.”
Not fair. Nice. I’m a failure.
I’ve written before about Levi before and one of the most important values we are trying to instill in our kids… GRATEFULNESS. I firmly believe that beyond a dynamic relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the most powerful indicator of happiness through this one go-round we have on the planet is the degree to which we embrace and practice the value of gratefulness. Or thanksgiving. Or gratitude. Call it what you will, but that right there is at the top of my list as Dad. I want to raise sons who are deeply grateful – for their life and breath, for their freedom, for the forgiveness of sins and the inheritance in heaven which we don’t deserve, for their future spouses, and for every cookie and every cup of coffee and every soul with which we have the privilege of interacting. To embrace life to the full (John 10:10) and to be joyful always, full of thanksgiving. For EVERY good thing. THAT is what it means to live truly deeply profoundly happy. And I want that for my boys.
“When you get your driver’s license , do they give you a free car?”
“No. You have to buy it.”
I’m failing here. See, the opposite of gratefulness isn’t indifference. You might think that. How many people do you know who walk around and breathe the air and take in the sunsets and drink their coffee and haul their kids to soccer practice without a shred of “thank you God for this moment”? Honestly, how many times has that been ME? How many times just today?
But that kind of non-acknowledgement isn’t the opposite of gratitude. The opposite of thanksgiving is ENTITLEMENT.
He’s only seven. I’m going to cut the kid a lot of slack. For now.
But Levi, and the rest of us, need to constantly be reminded that every blessing is a gift. And there is a Giver. And the Giver pours out blessing like rain upon the redeemed, the searching, and the hostile. Even more, he has given us energy and creativity and the freedom to EARN even more blessing – like that shiny new car Levi expects to be granted unto him with no real investment of time or sweat.
Well dude, I’ll give you some grace. You’re only seven. But we’ve gotta get a handle on this entitlement stuff. From now on, you will understand the value of that PBJ you ate for lunch and the IKEA bunk bed in which you wrap up at night. According to a June 18 US NEWS article, the cost of raising a child to age 18 is roughly $222,360. If I’ve done the math correctly, in your seven short years you’ve already cost us $86,473.
Levi, I’ll go halvsies with you.
“i’ve failed as a father :: why my seven year old will be paying rent from now on” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.