Sunday afternoon I took a trip to the store with my two oldest boys (7 & 4) to get a couple of items for the Super Bowl festivities. I knew that when I decided to go to the store that I was likely entering a bit of a chaotic mess, living in New England and all. I really enjoy football, but I was surprised with the gusto some people were taking this sports thing. It was busy at the store and people were totally in the shopping for junk food zone. My boys, well they were on a treasure hunt.
On our drive to the store my oldest son starting talking about football and just commenting about who was going to win. Being the opportunist I said, “You know, football is fun, but it is not life or death. Some people take this thing too far. We need to follow God, not a bunch of football players.”
Silence – then he responds:
“That would be interesting if it was life or death. What if people died after they played? That would be weird”
My 4-year-old chimes in “Hey dad, you know what I want for my birthday. I want a Lego set.” There was the official end of our ‘deep’ conversation. For the next 5 minutes they debated about which Lego set to get and looked through their Lego magazines.
We get to the store and they are so very excited to be there. As we are walking in, one son spots what he calls a gold coin. It is actually an earring, but don’t bother trying to tell him that. The other son spots some piece of garbage that he kept as his treasure. This was before we even got into the store. We go in the store and they are wanting all kinds of things. The soda football display mesmerized them. Oh, and then there were the closed circuit televisions. “Look, I’m on TV.”
“Hey, I want an underwater camera. They are only 14.99.” I asked him if he had $14.99, to which he replied he didn’t. So, I replied “Well, then it is a lot of money isn’t it.” Dad is so witty, right?
We got what we needed and on the way out stopped for maps. If you remember the post I wrote about that, it will make even more sense. But, my whole parenting existence was vindicated as in front of me there was a father with a few young boys all getting maps! My kids are not the only kids taking all of the hot spot maps!
We leave the store. My 4-year-old picks up a cigarette butt off the ground. “Look, I have a smoke” My 7-year-old quickly scolds him and tells him “those things make your heart stop.” Clearly not wanting that to happen, he threw it on the ground and kept walking.
We got home and they have a chance to play a little Wii before we go to a friend’s house for the game. Why am I telling you this story?
This story illustrates something for me that is crucial. Moments in life, while seemingly normal and mundane are actually great relationship opportunities. No, we did not dissect any Bible verses in our conversation, but we were together. My kids were with me and we were hanging out together. The times in the car ‘doing life’ together are so important. The same is true in youth ministry. This last summer we took a trip to Six Flags and we had a deep theological discussion on the ride home. Those moments are not just time to crank the radio, they are time to engage in the life of the people right there.
The temptation is to run through life and miss the people right in front of us. It takes something tragic before people say something nice about them or miss them. There was a high school student who committed suicide this last week, obviously tragic on so many levels. What is interesting, though, are the people who are now commenting on his Facebook page about how much they love and miss him. I don’t doubt that they do. I just wish people would build this appreciation of people into their daily life, not just when someone dies.
Parents need to spend quality time with our kids. Quality time is not something that is thrown together as a guilt trip, it is something that is a part of developing an intimate relationship with your children. This is daily time together around the dinner table or even watching a movie. It is simply being together and being all there. We put so much emphasis on getting everything just right for the big football party, but what about the lives of the people right in your home? How people live their life, unlike football, is a matter of life or death.
This is a dose of perspective. I love football and look forward to next season. But, it is far more important for me to love God and model that for my children. It is much more valuable to spend time with my kids finding earrings at the grocery store, than it is to watch football all day on Sunday without them.
What do you think? I am just sharing my heart here, but I would love to know what others think or have experienced.