I have no idea where the term “little pitchers” came from. Pitchers, like kids, hold onto a lot I suppose? I do know I put the term to good use with the other grownups in my life when one of my three comes rolling in during the re-telling of a story with adult language or themes (not that it’s a Tarantino movie around here or anything). But the older my children get, the more I find things – undesirable things, embarrassing things – coming back to me.
Yesterday, Jesse and I made the gathering of the multitudes of laundry from all corners of the house into a game. I was smirking at my own brilliance – I have yet to fully capitalize on this mini-army of child workers of mine. And by capitalize, I mean “get them to listen,” and by “workers” I mean “doing anything other than playing the iPad or the PlayStation.” I was so happy to be working in harmony with Jesse as we dragged full hampers to the laundry room, I started in on a little military boot-camp chant:
“I don’t know what I’ve been told! Jesse’s cute and really bold! He’s working hard and really fast! We love to wash and – “
Jesse: “KICK YOUR A4$%!”
This was followed by hysterical laughter. Jesse is four. F-O-U-R. He is too young to sound like Honey Boo-Boo.
Oh Lord, help me.
This kind of language is in part due to my children’s attendance at public school. No longer are my children issued demerits for bad language, as they were at last year’s Christian academy. No longer are my children reminded that bad language hurt’s God’s heart. Also, there is the “flow down” effect of Noah and his older classmates – the ones who are surfing YouTube faster than I can lock the computer down, the ones so recently motivated by what is cool and what kind of language they feel will make them “belong.” And, not to pull an Eve here and shirk my own personal responsibility, but Jesse’s father has been known to let a few colorful words fly every now and again.
My mother in law knows this all too well. When I picked her up from the airport a few years back when Noah himself was only four, we heard amidst our chatting:
“Oh f$%& it, Gran!”
I nearly ran us off the road.
I choked out an explanation: “Mom, I can assure you he did NOT hear that from me!”
She looked straight ahead, her mouth in a tight line. “Well he’s certainly never heard it from me.”
“That only leaves one person,” I blurted. “YOUR SON!”
I shouldn’t have thrown him under the bus like that. All I can say is that the serpent made me do it.
What I realized in ankle-deep kids clothes yesterday was that there is not a thing my children see or hear that doesn’t register in the tiny, open spaces of their growing hearts. What they witness, what they hear contributes to the formula of what makes them up. Every rule and edict we give them is diluted with inconsistency if we don’t live ourselves the very things we tell them to practice.
“Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) (NASB)
I find myself apologizing a lot to them lately. “I shouldn’t have said that.” “Mommy made a mistake here.” It is the only way I have found to catch my mistakes before they fester into a kind of spiritual leniency, a leniency that proves harder to undo the older they get.
That conviction’s a heck of a thing.