Saturday, June 8, 2002

The Lessons of a Child

All our lives we have been taught to learn from the examples set forth by my elders. We learn by reaping the benefits of life by following the rules imposed on us by our parents. We learn by fostering information and lessons from our school teachers. We learn from the patience and unconditional love shown us by our grandparents. We also learn by following examples of faith observed by our religious leaders. But how many times do we learn from someone younger, like a child? My life recently entered a new phase of education, and the teacher. . ? My nine-year-old daughter, Christine.

Raising children has been the hardest job I have ever tried to tackle. Being responsible for molding and shaping the life of another human being is a taunting task, and there have been many, many times when I have felt like a failure. There have also been many other times when I have been in awe of the lessons my children have learned. As a parent, I want what every other parent wants, for my children to be happy, healthy, and to have all the advantages life has to offer. As my oldest two daughters reach adulthood, I look back and realize I didn’t do such a bad job after all.

The oldest, Amber, choosing not to pursue a college career, is a happy, hardworking member of our society. She is following her own dreams, even though they were not my dreams for her. She is her own woman and she has learned to support herself by following the examples of the adults in her life. My middle daughter, Marie, is preparing to graduate high school, and as an honor student, again my hopes are high that she will continue her education. But like her older sister, Marie is her own woman and she will not be pushed into a preordained mold. At this writing, she is still undecided about her plans for the future, but I rest assured knowing she has the skills and intelligence to following her own plan for the future.

As for my youngest daughter, Christine has had a much more relaxed upbringing in comparison to her sisters. When Amber was born she brought with her all my insecurities of being a first time parent. Everything had to be Dr. Spock perfect, so I placed undo pressure on her to be perfect. When Marie was born, I threw Dr. Spock out the window because I was doing good just to keep two children clean and feed. By the time Christine arrived, I had already lived through every possible scenario of childhood. I learned it doesn’t matter how early my child walked or talked, or what kind of clothes they wore, or if their face and hands were clean 100 percent of the time. By the time children reach adulthood, none of their childhood accomplishments matter. When I see Christine doing something that is against the norm, I have learned to ask myself, “Will it matter in ten years?” If the answer is no, then I don’t force my opinion on her. Like her sisters, she is growing into her own person.

As for me, Christine has taught me that it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. I have always considered myself a religious person, even though my church attendance has been sporadic throughout the years. My oldest daughters have adopted my relaxed ideas on religion, but not Christine. She has embraced religion with a passion I haven’t seen since my Granny Devine was alive. Christine is active in every aspect of church life from choir to GA’s (Girls in Action) to the recent Easter pageant. She was so excited about her role in the pageant and her enthusiasm spread to her father and myself.

The Sunday morning Christine accepted Jesus as her personal savior, my heart swelled with pride. Her subsequent baptism on Easter Sunday was a testament of her faith and belief, but it was also an awakening for me. Through her simple act of believing in Christ, I realized I had been taking my faith for granted. Although Christine has a long way to go before she reaches adulthood, I now know this road will be paved, not only with her experiences, but also with the lessons we teach each other.

And as Christine so plainly stated, her name contains the greatest name of all. . .Christ.

© Bobbi Rightmyer, June 2002