Sharing faith and life with our children involves intentional inefficiency and “wasting time” together. In other words, when we work together with our children, productivity and efficiency and time-“saving” (as if we can bank it somewhere) are not what we’re after. Granted, children can become part of the family economy and an incredibly helpful and time-“saving” one at that, but I’ll save that for another post.
What I want to say here is a collary to the Deuteronomy 6 passage. Here are some of the things we do when at home or along the way that provide time for speaking truth and love and life to our children.
Tonight is Boy Scouts. It seems it’s a time-consuming activity. It rolls around often, it seems. I asked Jill, “When does the, uh, Scout season end?” She looked at me, smiled and said, “It doesn’t. It just keeps going.”
I broke out in a cold sweat. Still, I love Scouts–it’s just that they demand so much from parents, and I’m not even one of the Scout Masters or involved as much as others. But Jacob loves it like I never thought he would. He enjoys the badges for achievement, the games, and most recently the Pinewood Derby, which was last Saturday.
Pinewood Derby made me revel at the genius of Scouts, that this is just one of the many well-thought-out projects that involve parent and child. Together Jacob and I cut, sanded, painted, stickered, and raced the Pinewood car. I asked Jacob a few questions about it.
GT: What was your favorite part of the Pinewood Derby?
Jacob: I don’t know. Racing.
GT: Well, tell me about it.
Jacob: I got fourth.
GT: Tell me about building the car?
Jacob: We made a hot wheels design. It was silver with stickers on it. I didn’t even do it and you didn’t do it. We did it together.
GT: Well, let me tell you what I think about Pinewood Derby. I love the fact that we spend time together building it. I had a blast racing it and watching you have fun seeing it come down the track.
In Uganda older boys would help younger boys make cars from wire, pop bottle caps, pieces of old shoe, and some would even carve them out of wood and include a long steering wheel so the boys could walk down the dirt road “driving” the little cars.
Would a Pinewood Derby work in Uganda? I don’t doubt the kids would love it. But the important question would be whether the program would be one that would fulfill the goal of putting fathers and sons together, working together. We saw parents and children working together in the fields, in their cooking huts, and serving together in dozens of other ways. While parents and children were playful with one another in one sense, it did not look anything like the more formal ways parents and children “play” together in the United States.
The important part of sharing our lives and faith with our children, whether in Africa or the United States, is that we are aware and sieze the opportunity when we are together to be the fatherly or motherly presence in the lives of children that they need for stability and formation.
Special thanks to Jim, Kathy, and Derek Kostelnick, who led Jacob and me by the hand as we are first-year Pinewood Derby builders. The Kostelnicks invited us to their house and showed us seven cars from past years and taught us the “secrets” of good racing and how to stay on Mom’s good side by not loading the axles with graphite on the dining table!
NOTE: Please read Robert’s comment. Wow. Thank you, Robert.