In our quest to learn French this year, Emily and I aren’t much unlike our little boy Henry–who is well on his way to accomplish quite a bit this year. Consider Henry’s teeth that are coming in. You would think the little boy rubbed fertilizer on them every night or something. Consider also the fact that this little Tater began walking before he turned 10 months old. He’s very proud of his ability to walk. And so are his parents. Henry’s walking is very cute to watch. He takes a rather wide stance, raises his arms and waddles forward. Absolutely adorable for anyone watching, but comical, too. But that’s OK because he’s still in the early stages.
So, how then are Emily and I like Henry’s walking in our language learning? It occurred to me today while we were at the park during what the French call goûter, a daily 4:30pm snack for children. Henry needs to get out there and practice walking on different terrain. Walking at home on a smooth, flat floor is good to get him going, but really to go to the next level, he needs to get out there and start climbing and tripping up on tree roots before he can really walk confidently. Same with our language learning: it’s one thing for us to learn in a classroom, but to make the real progress we got to get out there in the park–on the rugged terrain–and be tripped up a few times. Then we’ll really get going.
Henry has the advantage, however, of having low inhibitions, even when the park’s packed. He doesn’t mind who sees when he trips up or if he stumbles. He just goes for it because, well, he can walk and he’s proud of it. I mean, look at him in the picture above where he’s chilling on the edge of the slide, plotting his next move. But just to show how little he cares what other people think, today he flopped down on the ground and began shoving blades of grass into his mouth. Get up and stop acting like a goat, son! Not even on his radar. He’s just going for it. That’s what Mummy and Daddy have to do, too: just go for it. It’s Henry who reminded me of this today, him and his little Tater ways. It’s amazing what somebody less than two feet tall who can’t even talk or take himself to the bathroom can teach you.
But perhaps that’s one of the more amazing aspects of being a parent: the parent is every bit a work in progress as the child. Do you think this is something a parent ought to admit to their child? I think so. Daddy messes up and sins, too. Or, how about I don’t know or Let’s find out together. What a tremendous joy (but a huge responsibility) to live with our children and guide them and teach them and learn from them! I heard a preacher say that a man is not given a wife for his pleasure but for his sanctification, sanctification being a process of aligning oneself with what is right in God’s eyes. Can’t you see how children are for your sanctification as well? Mine teach me patience. Mine teach me to be gracious. And the list goes on.
While on the topic of sanctification I’m reminded of a verse I read today in Isaiah: “The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious” (Isa 42:21). I was struck by the appearance of the words pleased, righteousness and law (the word torah, here translated by the ESV as law could be translated more generally as instruction). What’s happening in this section of Isaiah is that the prophet is confronting God’s people with the startling fact that they’ve ignored God’s instruction when he had called and equipped them to be a light to the world. God gave them his instruction, instruction he delights in because it reflects his character, a character that is right (“for his righteousness’ sake”). His people are called to reflect his character, not ignore it (“Hear, you deaf and look, you blind, that you may see!” Isa 42:18). As it pleased him to make his instruction glorious by revealing it to us, so it pleases him when we are conformed to his right way of doing life. What a high standard! It’s for this reason parents must be humble–for we too are held to a high standard–while also maintaining high standards for our children–for this is right in the Lord.