Soccer Guys and Humble Pie

Have you ever made a mistake in parenting?

Long before he could write, my son Nate loved soccer. If he wasn’t playing soccer, he was

81Tn4mGp+dL._SL1500_watching soccer (or begging to watch soccer as shown by the Post-It notes below). If he wasn’t playing or watching, he was using his “Soccer Guys” to act out field formations that would eventually end up with a “GOOOOAAAAAAALL!” Walking close by his imaginary play, you would usually hear his little 5-yr-old voice narrating the play in a British accent!

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The play in his mind translated well to play on the field. According to the local coach, Image-1 2he was “above” the recreational league for 5-yr-olds and should really come try out for the competitive league. The problem was that the youngest travel league was for 8 and 9-yr-olds. Nate didn’t seem to think that was an obstacle. He began showing his magnificent obsession on the field of giants! (6-yr-old Nate on the U-9 team to the right and below.)

 

 

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His obsession didn’t end there. Every restaurant’s blank placemat was quickly turned into a soccer guy:  legs spread, fingers out (usually twelve fingers!), and the net behind him, often with a dialogue bubble coming out of the mouth saying, “GOOOAAALLLLL!” (I am sure with a British accent.) He seemed so old during league play that his drawings shocked us with his youth.

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He was a monster on the field and a youngster in the house. After completing Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, we had moved to My Father’s World curriculum for first grade. The curriculum used the simple language of small words to write a Bible that my little guy could read all by himself! Having a 2-yr-old and 1-yr-old sister and brother, Nate was usually left to finish his Bible journaling once he and I had done the lessonIMG_6915 together for the day.

“Since you have already read the chapter to me, write a sentence about it and color a picture of what it meant to you,” I often said as I left him to work alone and went to care for his older brother or younger siblings.

His journaling began well: Adam and Eve had a serpent come out of the tree to visit them.

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On the next page, Nate had written, “Cain said, ‘Let’s go for a walk’.”

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Noah’s ark had animal stickers, two by two:

 

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Then I forgot to check the book for several days, and things took a turn:

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I was shocked to open his “Bible Journal” and find pictures of …soccer guys!!! There they were: legs sprawled across the page, fingers (many!) spread and sometimes even a ball in the air!

WHAT?!!! I was livid. It would be bad enough if he had drawn soccer guys in his math notebook, but Bible journal?!! You’ve got to be kidding me!

I had found the mess while I was checking work late at night, and ran it by Chris. He Slide1agreed with my consensus that we needed to crack down HARD on little lies or we would raise an adult who tells big lies. I decided to bring up the subject to my 6-yr-old the next morning, with a clearer, calmer head. My thoughts swam: This was pure deceit. I had heard of deviled eggs, but never before had I applied the adjective to kids! Drawing soccer guys while pretending to be recording in a Bible journal? This was like some scene from the Brady Bunch of the 70’s when Peter hides the comic book and pretends to read history! I don’t care how many points he scores on the field if he can’t score points in character!

What’s on the inside is what matters!

I rehearsed my speech in my head, wanting to turn this boy from his wrong ways while he was still young enough to learn.

“You’re character will be what you choose to make it [and I added: young man!!].” – John Lubbock

“When nobody else is looking, I still see.” – God

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” – Proverbs 28:6

“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1Sam 16:7

 

The next morning, we started homeschool with a one-on-one conversation. I gave him my “SCORING POINTS FOR CHARACTER” speech, and he sat listening intently. I gave him a chance to tell me if he had any times recently when he thought his character was not something he would want God to see.

“I don’t think so,” he said as his bewildered, 6-yr-old, enormous, brown eyes squinted a little.

I brought out the Bible journal, practically ready to jump on him and say, “Thou art the man!!” I opened and turned the pages, telling him how disappointed I was that he was drawing soccer guys instead of illustrating what he had read in the Bible like I had told him.

His tears started to well.

Guilty as charged! I assumed. I was ready to accept his apology and hold hands to pray toward repentance.

His tears burst through his words as he said, “THAT…. IS MOSES!”

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I was shocked when for the first time I noticed a burning bush next to the man I thought was a soccer guy.

“AND THAT IS JACOB…SEE HIS DREAM?” he said, turning the page to an identically looking man next to what I had thought was a soccer ball.

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“And that one is Joseph next to the barn full of grain,” he said, pointing to another “soccer guy” next to a little square, that apparently was not a goal, but a barn.

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I could have died. Or cried. Or both – preferably in that order.

I…FELT… SO… BAD!!!

Next up: one of the most important parenting moves ever:

I said, “I’m sorry,” to my son!

We held hands and prayed for my forgiveness.  The table was turned. The verse: “People look at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart,” (1Sam 16:7) was still applicable. I was indeed “a people” and I just displayed it in full color to my 6-yr-old, since I had only looked at the “appearance”! I hate the taste of humble pie! But I love the results of peace in the relationship.

The Bible says, “Humble yourself and you shall be exalted,” (James 4:10) but I like to say, “Humble yourself or God will do it!”

I showed Chris the pictures later and he laughed hysterically at what we had thought, versus what was reality. Of course, I guess Nate got past the horrible incident and forgave us, because when I got out his old Bible journal this week (now that he is almost 15-yrs-old) and told him the story, he laughed and laughed and laughed, not remembering it at all!

I guess it is a good thing that God judges from the heart, because then He could know that I meant to teach for His glory; however, it served as a good reminder that my heart might be the deviled one some days in this Brady bunch.

Love ya,

Terri

1Peter 5:6 : “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

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Bradys Play Hurt

Dear Lindsey,

I have decided I know why it is called, “roughhousing”: because it is rough on my HOUSE! Boys are boys! When our oldest was barely one-year-old, “wrestling with dad” became the most exciting activity of the day. It progressed well into toddlerhood and became training ground for toughness with each of our three boys.  Chris and Casey spent hours tumbling on the floor and showed such a different relationship than my own with my son (or my relationship with my husband, for that matter!). The game always seemed to come to a halt in tears, as the toddler would succumb to exhaustion, realizing he was “whooped.”  Chris wanted to raise our boys to be tough though, and he would never let their game end with crying.

“Brady’s play hurt!” Chris (knowing that his son was not really injured) would egg a four-year-old Casey on – never rewarding his sniveling.  Making it fun so the toddler would continue playing, Chris would then let enough time pass that tears were forgotten, and he could end the game on a good note.

This game was daily, no maybe hourly! Wrestling with Daddy still occurs in this house with teenagers…only louder!

One particular day of toddlerhood, though, the game was declared “over,” and Chris rested his eyes, lying down on the couch in our playroom while Casey played with Legos. After some time, the four-year-old suddenly ran and jumped on the couch, landing on Chris’s mid-section, startling Chris from sleep to a shout: “Owwww! Get off of me!”

Casey got a cute twinkle in his eye and said,

“Come on, Dad! Bradys play hurt!”

I laughed out loud!

And the wrestling continued.

Oh my! The number of times the saying goes through my head outnumbers the wrestling events where it was created.

When I want to give up in tears,

when I want to make excuses for my mood,

when I want to scream in exhaustion, “I can’t get it all done!”

I go back to the moment with my four-year-old and am reminded: “Bradys play hurt,” and I stay in the game …just one more day.

Blessings,

Terri

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

Hebrews 12:1:  Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,…

1 Corinthians 9:27:  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

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Dampened Impressions, Toddler Style

Dear Lindsey,

Company is coming!!! The holidays begin! Candy still lingers in my kitchen and I can’t believe it’s already the next holiday!

My preparations today remind me of a day a couple years ago:

I have had their last name for almost two decades, but trying to make a good impression on my in-laws is still one of my strong desires. I want to make sure they know I am the perfect wife for their perfect son :).  They encourage me and tell me nice things all the time, but as a daughter-in-law, I always want to do more for them.

Case in point:

The oven had been hot, preparing the holiday goodies all day. The laundry room was equally hot, as I tried to get all of the tasks done before their arrival. I wiped counters and awaited their text: they could be here any minute. All the checkmarks were in the box! …if that last load of laundry could get put away.

“GPS says we’ll be there in 10,” the text arrived!

I worked to mop that floor one last time, and hopefully put on makeup as if I always look “done-up” for their son…but that one last load of laundry was still in the back of my mind. Oh, how I wish I could clone myself for times like this! Wait?! Isn’t that why I had kids? (smile)

“J.R.?” I yelled up the stairs to see if the last remaining unworking child was within earshot.

“What, Mom?” the 5-yr-old yelled back down.

“Grammy and Papa will be here in 10 minutes. The dryer has your clothes in it. Could you please fold those and put them away?”

“10 minutes?!!! Yaaayyy!! Sure! I’ll put my clothes away!”

A tinge of guilt crossed my mind. Is that a lot to ask of a 5-yr-old? He’s folded clothes beside me many times before. The dryer happened to only have his clothes in it, so he would know where it all went, right? They don’t have to be folded perfectly; they only need to disappear into his drawers, right? Perfect! I have time to get myself ready! I raced upstairs to the master bath.

“They’re here!!” the screams began from each of the four children. No question that the white van from Michigan had pulled into the driveway.

Phew, the floor dried in time! I thought as I descended the stairs to the clean kitchen greeting Grammy and Papa. Chris came out of his office; the holiday had begun!

Later that evening, as is tradition (and such a great break for me!!) Grammy and Papa headed up the stairs to help the kids to bed. The kids anxiously picked out their favorite books and brushed teeth, while looking forward to their “scratch-backing” time while Grammy and Papa read books. That’s when Grammy yelled down:

“Terri? Do you have a leak somewhere?”

A leak? You’re kidding me!

I raced upstairs to find that she was baffled why all of J.R.’s pajamas in the dresser were WET.

As I inspected the situation, I found that not only were the PJ’s wet, but so were all of the underwear, pants and shirts…that he had put away from the dryer.

“J.R., was the dryer off when you took the things out to put them away?”

“No. You didn’t say they had to be dry.”

Enjoy your Thanksgiving! Be thankful you have clothes…even if they are wet.

God bless,

Terri Brady

The gift that says, “I’m the big one!”

Dear Lindsey,

I know it’s not much to look at, perched on my office bookshelf among the cluttered books, but just seeing it floods my memory and heart, sufficing the intention of any gift.

My husband, Chris, had taken the boys, age 2 and 5, to the store and handed them $10 each. He told them they could buy anything they wanted for me for my birthday.

Nate, full of personality (and leaving very few of his thoughts to mystery) had those pudgy cheeks the church ladies would squeeze.  Always a competitor, when asked his age, he would answer “5,” (his older brother’s age) with full confidence.

“My! You are such a cute little boy!” a stranger had once told him.

Nate replied, “I’m not little! Except when I look in the mirror, then I’m still little, but I’m not little for real.”  (Although, it sounded more like, “I’m not wittle!”) Ha! Such spunk!

Casey, a sweet spirited pensive type, made the perfect best friend of opposite personality.  I am sure he kept the birthday shopping in line, as he turned down Hot Wheels and guns, aiming for the perfect gift for Mom, not himself.

The package wasn’t wrapped professionally. Evidence of novice hands’ work made it all the more special.  Nothing needed tearing for the present to be opened, since the young deliverers who shared in handing it to me had torn most of it. They stood, or maybe bounced, in anticipation, waiting for my response to their deeply-thought-out purchase.

The torn colored paper revealed the gift: two pigs.

Chris stood in the background, smiling so hard his cheeks might have cracked.  It was truly delightful to see these two boys so excited to give. Casey (5) explained the reasoning for the choice: “They are two brothers, just like Nate and me. We put our money together to buy it!  We thought if you put it in your office, then you would think of us. We knew if we got you candy or something, you might eat it and then it would be gone, but this you can keep FOREVER. It says, ‘I love you,’ because we do!” His reasoning continued, while I basked in the joy of the moment. I gave hugs of gratitude while they both beamed with pride over their selection.

Afterward, I cleaned up the papers and sent them for their PJ’s to start the bedtime routine.  As Casey started toward the stairs, Nate suddenly turned away and ran to my side, cupping his mouth to my ear so Casey wouldn’t hear. (–This is my favorite part!!:)

“I’m the big one!” the 2-year-old whispered, happily pointing to the pigs, which ironically both looked identical. That adorable memory of my “big” 2-yr-old sits on the shelf where the pigs still reside 10 years later.

What makes the gift special?

–      Chris. He thought to take time out of his busy schedule to let toddlers do the shopping.

–      It’s the thought that counts…always; their hearts beamed brighter than the most valuable diamond.

–      The 2-yr-old’s and 5-yr-old’s antics are no longer in my house; I cherish those memories.  No material possession could ever rank over moments that cannot be relived except in our memories. Some things truly are priceless.

Dear young mother: please remember that toddlers are a gift, temporary though they are.  When it seems you can’t get anything done…when you get more boxes to check than checkmarks in the box every day…when you are exhausted with the illness and realize you still have more kids to get it…when you are tired of finding syrup in places you didn’t know it could get to (and you haven’t even had pancakes in weeks!)…stop and find a memory for which to thank God. Blow some bubbles.  Drink in the smile. Pinch the cheeks. They disappear more quickly than the to-do list.

May you find the value behind the gifts you give and receive. I think the remembrance of the giver is “the big one” of them all.

In love,

Terri Brady

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A Stone’s Throw

Dear Lindsey,

With the toddler and baby–in-tow, Chris and I toured our future home that was being built, while the 8 and 5-yr-olds waited outside in the middle of the 180-acre property. When we came outside, a newsworthy story was underway. We heard a “Bam!” and another “Bam! Bam!” It sounded as if our car were being shot with b-b’s. “Bam Bam!” Chris ran over to find our 5-yr-old picking up more ammo (rocks) as he proceeded to throw them directly at our Ford Excursion, five feet away.

New white scratches lined the entire right side of the black truck, and the taillight had been shattered before our arrival.  “WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?!!!!” Chris roared, as he grabbed Nate’s hand before the next pebbles could be launched.

“Crash!” we heard the glass fall from the side rear-view mirror.

Bewildered, Nate replied, “I am just trying to hit the license plate.”

//

No. I could never make these things up.  Yes, my children still do things like this, and I will write about them in five or ten years – when I think they’re funny.

I am a believer in giving young children grace, but this true tale from my child needed more than grace. Although unintentional, there were results that happened due to the 5-yr-old’s actions, and those scratches, mirror and taillight needed to be fixed. He was in trouble!

I can’t tell you the number of times I was “just aiming for the license plate,” and someone or something got hurt in the mean time. So often, I want to chalk it off as “not my fault,” but the fact is that there are ramifications due to my actions, and I am responsible.

I regret the number of times I have put my foot in my mouth at the sacrifice of someone’s heart. Instead of apologizing or clarifying, I sadly have let it go as if “It’s her problem if she’s going to be so sensitive,” because, after all, I was only aiming for the license plate.

When I was a young filly of about 23, I was 5’7” and 112lb, the same dimensions as a Miss America pageant contestant that year. (OK, not the same dimensions, but the same numbers. LOL!) I wore skirts that fit and were comfortable in length to me (short!), and figured if guys looked inappropriately, that was their sin, not mine. My aim was simply to dress up and feel comfortable.  However, our pastor shared a different perspective (regarding Titus 2, which tells women to be “chaste”) :

“You would probably be surprised to know how many times I have had men in the church lament to me – the last guy only recently – telling me, “If only our women knew how difficult it was at times to come in here and try to focus on God while at the same time ending up battling my flesh over someone nearby who showed up looking like they did . . . the entire service became a tug of war and I have left church more defeated than when I came in.”

I recognized that scratched paint and broken taillight; I, myself, may once have caused it.

You have heard that we judge others by their behavior, but we judge ourselves by our intentions. In other words, we judge others by the scratches on the truck, but we excuse (or often deny) our own scratch-making, because we were “just trying to hit the license plate.”

Luckily, although thrown-stones indeed have consequences, there are lessons learned, and paint to make it new. My son eventually paid for the damages with his labor. He learned he needed to stop throwing stones if there was a risk of something nearby breaking.

I suppose that’s the lesson: I need to stop throwing stones, since there are people all around me… breaking. I need to ask forgiveness from those whom I have “scratched” even unintentionally, so fresh paint can be applied.  Of course, when we ourselves get scratched, we can remind ourselves that maybe the offender was …only aiming at the license plate.

May God bless you with intentions and actions that match.

Terri Brady

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Grace: Pass It On!

Dear Lindsey,

J.R., who recently turned 7, had an “it’s-tough-being-a-kid” day the other day. It began well as we decided to go fishing on a nearby State-owned lake. I had bought new rods-and-reels for his sister and him, in an attempt to reduce the chances of tangling. (I am convinced the toddler poles they have had for years were designed with quality to last for 4 days, and they had long since expired.) He was so excited! As soon as we pushed off from the dock, his line was in the water, trailing behind the boat.

When we were almost across the lake, J.R. excitedly announced, “Mom! I let out all the line of my whole reel!”

“J.R.!!” His brother scolded, in the way that only a big brother could. “If you catch a fish now, you won’t be able to bring it in!”

J.R. quickly tried to bring in the line, only to find that the new reel wasn’t reeling.

By now, we were being blown toward the opposite shoreline, so I told him I would help as soon as I got the boat to a safe place. Unbeknownst to me, he was worried he was going to catch a fish, so he had begun pulling the line in by hand. While I diverted the boat from submerged objects, and fought the wind’s desire for me to hit land, an hour’s worth of work collected behind me: J.R. pulled the entire 150 feet into the boat. As if descending on its prey, the fishing line tangled the boat along with Christine’s line while gathering as a rat’s nest on the boat’s floor.

“Oh good, Mom, I got all the way to my lure!” he naively informed me.

As I turned to him, I couldn’t believe my eyes. In the first ten minutes of the trip, he had managed to take three of us out of fishing ability.

Ugh!

I fought my urge to yell, “What were you thinking?!” as I let the boat bang up against a branch, which I knew would hold us in one place while I battled the tangle. I knew if I showed my frustration, he would melt down. He wasn’t trying to be a problem.

This was just one of those “kid” moments. You know the kind? He was only being a kid. His inept ability to maneuver a line or assess the situation was affecting us all. It wasn’t his disobedience, a foul heart or purposeful mischief. I had seen it before: once, he left the water running and overflowed the sink to the basement. Another time, he had tried to clean up his own mess and only made it messier. Times like these are when we moms have a lot of power: We can yell and scream due to our selfish frustration, teaching any child within ear-shot that anger should be used when things don’t go OUR way, or we can save our anger for something more important –something which is eternal. I tried to work on the solution in silence, to keep the moment teachable.

“Sorry, Mom,” he assured me while I pulled line apart, one inch at a time. I would have loved to simply cut it loose, but it was the entire spool of line, so he wouldn’t have been able to fish. I worked some more and managed to get it free from the boat and from Christine’s line. I gave J.R. my pole so he could at least fish, while I stayed focused on the ball of twined line in the bottom of the boat.

Just as I got the tangled mass to a point where I could cut it and still have enough with which to fish, I realized we needed to depart our fishing spot and head to the dock, in case the wind slowed our crossing of the lake. I didn’t want to be late for picking up my eldest, Casey.

We were back at the dock without delay, so we had 10 minutes to spare.

“Can we PLEASE fish from shore for a few minutes?” Nate asked.

“Sure, “ I said. We loaded the gear into the truck, and drove toward the park exit. There was a sandy shoreline, which we had wanted to try, next to the exiting driveway.

When I came to the alluring fishing spot, there was one fisherman already there, enjoying the serenity of the natural surroundings of ducks and geese with ducklings and goslings. This fifty yards of beach was decked out with park benches. A canopy of trees provided shade as well as homes for the squirrels that raced in every direction.

The man sat there in silence. His shirtless body was decorated with tattoos, covered slightly by the long hair flowing from his hat. In his fifties with deeply tanned skin, he looked like this was not his first day at the pond.

“You can fish anywhere, kids, but please stay far from that man. Let him have his peace.” I said as I handed each a pole and glanced at the clock to mentally note the 10 minutes I would get to read while they fished before we needed to go pick up their brother.

BEFORE I EVEN OPENED MY BOOK, I looked up to see poor J.R., now with his line ACROSS the man’s line. I couldn’t believe it! I had only given one direction: “Stay away from that guy. Give him space. You can go anywhere except where his line is.” It sounded like a scene from Peter Rabbit, and J.R. was going to miss out on blackberries and milk for dinner!

This could get ugly. I feared, glancing at the guy as he stood to assess the situation.

I quickly descended the hill to the water’s edge, and began pleading forgiveness for my son’s error.

“I am sorry. I think his cast went in a different direction than he intended.” I said.

“Well it’s ok. I was his age once,” the stranger replied. “How’s he going to learn if he doesn’t try?”

Tears welled in my heart as I appreciated this stranger’s grace. The man’s kind answer to my son affected me all day. When a driver cut me off, a friend forgot a promised delivery, or a waitress messed up my order, I thought, “Hey, I was ‘young’ once too.”

Grace.

Pass it on.

It is amazing the distance of the ripples in the water where it falls.

May God bless your day as you bless others with grace,

Terri Brady

Ephesians 1:7 For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God,

Matthew 6:14-15 If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.

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I was just reminded of a funny motherhood moment I HAD to share!  The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas is as amazing as everyone had told us it would be. Continue reading