Yesterday we celebrated our oldest boy’s birthday by taking him to his most favorite location – Red Robin. A festive night at the Dirty Bird always ends the same way – by asking the host for balloons on our way out. Things seemed to go so well on the short drive home. That was, until we parked our van in the driveway and began packing items into the house. This is when tragedy struck. Josslyn, our three year old, began screaming bloody murder. What happened? Is she hurt? How bad? Jana runs over to that side of the van. There is Joss. She seems to have no injuries. But she also does not have…wait for it…a balloon. Joss is screaming, “It flew away! And it popped! It flew away! And it popped”
I walk into the house. A bit frustrated, I have to admit. As if I have never acted like a three year old who just lost a balloon. And what do I find? There is Joss’s big sister, Julia, at the top of the stairs. She is holding her balloon. We lock eyes. I have seen that look in Julia before. Plenty of times before. All I said was, “You don’t have to do that, Julia.” She simply responds, “I know.” I said, “I am proud of you for even thinking about it. But only do it if you really want to.” She says, “I do.”
Joss, still screaming, enters the house. Julia extends her hand – and passes the balloon over to her little sister.
A sentimental moment for sure. But sentimental moments don’t last long in parenthood. Life is not like “Full House” reruns. Almost on cue, Jace states, “I want to keep my balloon.”
Now here me out…I am not throwing Jace under the bus. I am throwing myself under the bus. Why? Because I see a lot more of “Jace” in me that I see “Julia.” Jace does not know any better. He is six. And he is a fabulous brother, by the way. He just had one moment in life where he saw what he should have done and he did not do. He will learn from it. What troubles more about what I witnessed is that I am convinced that my children teach me a whole lot more about Christ than I teach them, sometimes.
Julia leads. But she leads with empathy. She gives things away because her heart breaks. People over property.
The Bible reads, “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!’ (Mark 1:41, NLT).
I wonder what age we are when we stop caring. When we walk by people who have lost so much more than a balloon – their liveliehood, their families, their dignity – and we choose to hold on to our balloons that much tighter. After all, it is their fault, right? After all, we earned what we have, right? I want to keep my balloon.
Give me the heart of a child.