Sunday was one of those rare Spring days we've been aching for all winter.
After a week of rain, the sun finally came out to play, Daddy returned from Belize, the kids ran crazy in the yard, and everyone breathed in the freshness that is still fighting to remain a constant this April.
We're beginning to see hints of growth in our yard.
And in our children.
And in me.
Parents often wonder if they are teaching their children to make the “right” decisions. I realize “right” is a pretty nebulous word, as all of us come from different backgrounds when it comes to what we consider to be correct behavior. Sure there are general areas where I think we would all agree on the appropriateness of how certain situations are handled. But, more often, when it comes to teaching our children "right" from "wrong", our personal perspectives and convictions play a large role in raising up our little people from kiddos to adulthood.
In our home, what we teach our children is grounded in our faith. It serves as the base for our daily living. We can only pray that what we are imparting to our children will be heard, digested, and serve them as they navigate life.
As we played in the yard on Sunday, two kids rode up on bikes.
“Is Harper home?”
“Sure, honey. She's in the back. What's your name?”
The girl introduced herself, and I recognized the name as someone Harper had brought up a few times. I ran to get her, delighted that someone had popped by to play.
The girls spoke for a bit, and then Harper asked if she could ride her scooter back to her friend's house with her brother who was also with her. They lived very close by.
Only, I had never met them. I had never met the parents. I knew nothing about the family.
All I knew is what I'd taught Harper about how to handle herself in new situations. I asked the girl to excuse us, and spoke with Harper privately inside.
"Harps, I'm going to let you do this. If at any point you want to come home, call, and I'll come get you. Got it?"
I jotted down the gal's phone number and her mother's name, and off they went.
I shocked Harper. I shocked myself.
When I called the Mom to introduce myself, she expressed how happy she was for her daughter to have another friend in the neighborhood. I was also. We agreed that they would ride back over around 6:00.
Harper arrived home on time. Not a minute late. Check.
We spoke about her visit, and she seemed tentative about going back.
"We weren't allowed in the house."
Well, I could hardly blame the Mom about that one - it was gorgeous out.
"She didn't give us a snack."
I had no problems here either. It was early evening, right before dinner.
"Did you have a good time?"
"Well, yes. But I think I would like her to play here next time."
"Did something make you uncomfortable?"
"Kind of. I mean, not a lot. But, kind of. There was a little bit of cursing."
"Harper, if you remember, just last week, I dropped a bomb at breakfast."
"Yeah, I know. This . . . well . . . this just felt . . . different."
"Ok, but would you like to play with her again?"
"YES! Oh, yes. But, over here. If that's OK."
Hey, I don't know the exact situation. It doesn't even sound like there was a "situation". All I know is that something about the environment didn't sit well with Harper. She came to that conclusion herself, without my being present to persuade her. And maybe she will want to return again at some point. Right now, however, I am proud of her for making her OWN decision as to where she feels comfortable hanging out.
I dropped the leash and let her roam a bit. A bit. It's not as if I'm letting her loiter outside the local St. Arbuck's.
And by doing so, I think she woke up a bit taller on Monday.
Joline Pinto Atkins is a former actress who now uses the web as her world-wide stage and can also be founding writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Fit With Jo. Joline is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 10 and 6, who are both named after authors. Addicted to fitness, she sweats out any daily angst by running (not with sharp objects) and P90X'ing, and longs for good books, vats of coffee, and an endless supply of buffalo wings - which she will not share with you. So, please, do not ask.