Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Genetic Tears -- den Boer

I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. (Proverb 5:13)

“My teacher is very patient,” reported four-year-old Amanda after several weeks of junior kindergarten at the local public school. I should have realized there was more behind her statement.

That Friday while I stood at the classroom door among several other parents waiting to walk our children home, the teacher singled me out, “Amanda’s Mom, we didn’t have such a good day today,” she said. “You and I had better talk.” She arranged to have me come to see her when the children would be with the gymnasium instructor the following Monday.

This was a first. Not one of Amanda’s four older siblings in a combined 32 years of schooling had ever behaved in a way which required a talk with their teacher. Over the years there had been minor problems, but I hadn’t been summoned by a teacher since my own school days.

On the way across the playing field towards our home Amanda suggested, “My teacher is not so patient anymore.”

“So what happened?” I asked casually.

“I don’t have to play when she wants me to!” Amanda looked at me with her big determined brown eyes.

“Yes, you do,” I countered.

She continued, “I don’t have to pick a book when she wants me to.”

“Yes you do,” I repeated. “You should obey God, your parents and your teacher. The only time you don’t have to listen to your teacher is if she tells you to do something bad—and I don’t think Mrs. Van Sickle would do that!” I stated emphatically.

After some tears, Amanda said she would obey. I knew she meant it when several hours later I found her in the family room dancing in a circle, chanting, “I will obey God, I will obey God and my mom and my dad and my teacher.”

That Sunday in church a providential children’s message about obeying God, your parents, your baby sitter and your teacher reinforced my instruction.

On Monday morning I entered Amanda’s classroom prepared to tell the teacher about Amanda’s resolve to obey. I watched as the children went through their opening exercises including a jazzed up rendition of “O Canada.”

After the teacher dismissed the children to the gym, she led me to a little table and invited me to sit on a tiny chair. From her own little perch on the other side of the table, she looked at me, “Is there something going on at home that we should know about?”

I wasn’t prepared for this question. “No, I don’t think so,” I muttered. Couldn’t she see Amanda was from a warm and caring, Christian family? Apparently not.

The teacher continued, “She was running down the hall to the library and I said, ‘No Amanda’ and right away there were the tears.”

Was that it? I assured the teacher that the quick-flowing tears were genetic. Some den Boers simply don’t like to be told they are doing something wrong. It makes them cry.

“Ignore the tears,” I advised.

She did.

Amanda has been obeying her ever since.

He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded. (Proverbs 13:13)

Years after this incident, 15-year-old Amanda set me straight. Her tears had been tears of pain and frustration. Her stomach hurt. The teacher had told her to hurry and then, not to run.

Even though the teacher, Amanda, and I, each had a different slightly skewed view of what was happening, through it all, Amanda learned a valuable lesson about obedience.

Excerpt from Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress by Marian den Boer. 


Peter Black said...

Oh yes, Marian, Amanda's may have been virtually a classic case of confused messaging on part of an adult authority figure in her life!
On occasion, in recent years, I've noticed adults giving kids inconsistent or conflicting directives, and it does become confusing and frustrating for them. (I'm sure I've done that, too.)
This is especially so, if what the parent or adult requires of the child fails to be modelled by the one making or enforcing the rules.

Marian said...

I agree Peter. Sometimes we're just too all-knowing and impatient.

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