And the attic was off-limits at Christmastime. Four-year-old Grant knew it. But he’d been lured by the promise of presents, and December was still young.
He couldn’t resist.Grant burst into the kitchen one morning in wild fury, sock feet skimming ceramic tile. “Mom,” he called. “Look what I have.The play set! The one I wanted. Right here!” He'd found a Winnie the Pooh play set, with two-inch-tall animals and a kind, smiling Christopher Robin. There was a blue felt tent for camping, and a campfire with orange plastic flames.
He held the package above his head and jumped. Once. Twice. Smiled big as all-get-out. “I’m so, so happy!”But I wasn’t.
Grant had disobeyed. There was no reason for him to be in the attic.
Except to look for presents.
I wiped my hands on a towel and sat, pretzel-legged, on the kitchen floor. “Come here, please, Grant.” I patted the floor next to me. Grant plunked down beside me and held the package with small, tight hands. “Why were you in the attic?”No answer. Just shiny, full-of-joy eyes.
“You were disobedient, Grant, to go into the attic. The present was a surprise. I’ll have to take it back.”Grant's lower lip perched out full. His eyes watered over.
I hugged him and told him I loved him, but he’d lost the blessing of that gift. Partly because Lonny and I expect our boys to obey and partly because my heart swelled for my son and I wanted Christmas morning to be full of breathless delight.Now, looking back, remembering that day, I wish I had done things differently.
I wish I had poured sweet, rich grace.I wish I had talked with my son about the importance of obedience. I wish I had considered that the temptation, for a small boy, was maybe too great. Then I wish I had pulled him to my lap and ripped that box open. I wish we had sat on that kitchen floor, sunlight spilling fresh and full in stripes of gold, and I wish we had played. I wish his laughter had wrapped around us and soaked through us and I wish I had let his sweet, little boy joy become mine.
And I wonder why, today, God has allowed that memory to seep into my soul. I don’t think it’s to fill my heart with sadness or regret. I think that maybe, now that my son is fifteen and we’re rushing headlong into teen turbulence, there will be other times.Times to teach.
But also times, if I can, to hold my son close and pour sweet, rich grace.