There is a child in my church who looks like a fairy wood sprite. Her hair is white, her skin almond pink, and her large and luminous aqua eyes slant up with intelligence.
Her voice is intriguing, and for me it defies describing. Perhaps because I am more interested in the mobility and expressiveness of her face when she’s talking. Were it not for the new daddy in her life who understands the value and loveliness of the word, “No,” this child might be easy prey for the enemy of her soul someday.
But the fairy wood sprite is winning, and if this new daddy has his way, her entire life will be a fairy tale. She is learning that she is royalty, deserving of all the best things, which include discipline.
I usually sneak peaks at this child from afar, but Sunday I went so far as to kiss her white head when she wore a bit of a frown on that dear face. “Here’s a feel- better kiss,” I told her as she passed, and was gratified to see her smile as she walked away.
This child doesn’t need yet another adult fawning over her beauty, trying to make points with her mom and grandma by giving her whatever she wants, feeling sorry for her because (until lately) she was daddy-less.
If this child does what most kids do, she will act up a bit now and again. And again. If her parents do what most parents do, they will ground her, speak sternly to her, get angry and tell everyone who will listen all about it.
But if these parents are bold and brave because they know they’ve done the training, the nurturing, the hard part in saying “No” when it needed saying, they will also have the strength and wisdom to speak straight to this child.
I imagine such a scenario as this: “The answer is ‘No'”, Dad says, (parents agreeing ahead of time after prayers together for wisdom) “And I’m going to tell you some of the reasons why.”
Child looking mutinous, still standing, so very wronged is she.
“Sit down. I want to look you in the eye because I want you to see the love in my eyes.”
“So many reasons. The phone is keeping you awake, keeping you from other activities, making us feel left out of your life, exposing you to things that may or may not be healthy for you.” Mom thinking the main reason is that the more her child is hooked up to electronic devices, the less respect she shows her parents, and she chases a niggling thought that sounds something like, “And whose fault is that?”
Child rolling eyes.
“Please don’t do that. Do I ever do that to you? Because if I do, if you learned that from me, I sincerely apologize and give you leave right now to call me on it if I ever do.”
“But there is another reason. I call it The Love Reason. The reason that someone who loves to make you happy, who loves to see your smile and hear your laughter, who wishes every moment of your day was pure joy – the reason such a one as your ma or I can say the dreaded “N” word is The Love Reason.
Child looking interested, alert.
“See, if I notice a kid in the store hooked up to her phone, it exasperates me. But when it’s the child God gave me to love, in kicks The Love Reason. The Love Reason is also God’s reason. He says “No” about certain things because He loves us and doesn’t want our enemy to get at us.”
“He has high hopes for us, a destiny planned, a hope and future beyond what we can ask or think or even imagine. So, you could just say my Love Reason is Love. I love you and don’t want you harmed, hindered, or set back. I don’t want you following the crowd and not going on your particular and beautiful adventure path in life.
“It’s my job. God gave you to me as a responsibility and a gift to steward. Even God Himself doesn’t own you – He wants you to give your life to Him willingly. But He does have Love Rights. Love Rights include the right to say “No”.
“So, Love Reasons and Love Rights. I could bore you with all the science behind what that phone’s doing to your fine brain, but suffice it to say watching instead of creating and doing shrinks the imagination part of the brain. I think we can agree imagination is a marvelous and precious thing.”
Child nods just a little.
“So, here’s the deal: Along with the No Thing I’m going to do the Hard Thing. I’m going to put myself at your disposal to facilitate electronic alternatives – creative, action things that you can think of to do.”
Parent wonders what possessed him to make this offer – Mom raises eyebrows very high.
Child is quick on the draw. “I want you to help me build a canoe, and take me fishing. And my bike tire is flat. Plus Mom said we could have a tea party and I want to do that. Tomorrow afternoon. So, maybe we need to go to the store right now to get the stuff.”
Mom is laughing right out loud. Dad takes deep breath.
“Well, it just so happens I’ve been looking at canoe plans on the Net. Let’s go to the garage and see what we have and what we need, then we’ll go to Home Depot and the grocery store.”
“Isn’t that technology, looking on the net at canoe stuff?”
“Why yes, it is. But I wasn’t just watching people build, and fish in, canoes. I’ve been finding out how they did it. And we’ll make one even better. I’m thinking your canoe should have pontoon floaters on the sides so it won’t tip if you want to stand up and fly fish.”
“Can we make a campfire and cook the fish at the lake?”