I caught my aunt grumbling a bit about her youngest boy and I laughed because he is so amazingly grown-up and mature when he is with us at camp. But at home the outstanding counselor and model citizen morphs back into a teenage boy. I have seen this phenomena many times. Our most mature female counselor, whom I had never heard exchange a cross word with anyone burst into a whiney voice when she got on the phone with her dad. Such encounters always make me smile.
But it didn’t really strike home until I watched my eldest boy’s teacher give a long lecture to the class about never saying “I want that one, wahhhh” instead of “Thank you”. She apologized that I had to hear her sermon and I mentioned that it was good for him to get the lecture from multiple sources. She stared at me, “Your boy would never act like that, he is never rude to others”. Oh… I had to hide a shocked laugh because he does that exact thing at home with me and his brothers, ALL the time. I am constantly telling them: “ You get what you get and don’t throw a fit”.
And that forced me to reflect on this long, often reward-less struggle of parenting. How you pound values into their little brains for years and barely see any results whatsoever. But I realized that while the struggle seems senseless, the fruit is maturing out of sight. At home I must tell them to say “thank you” every single time, and ask them to not hit or strangle others every other second. But maybe I am not just doing this for results at home. Although I am bound by forces incomprehensible to continue my demands and the inevitable consequenses. Perhaps the harvest of my daily toil occurs elsewhere. Just like the counselors who are wonderful workers for the Lord, mature and kind and a bit snotty with their parents. My boy is a model citizen in class. Because I drill him constantly at home. Sure, a good deal of the time, it is without results that I can see. But the results come. He learns. And it shows up at other locations.
Someday he will be that marvelous teenage boy helping his youth group or Sunday school class and wowing others, only to get on the phone with me and whine. But it is paying off. I was so delighted. It is working, I just don’t necessarily get to see all of the glory of it immediately. That is the privaledge of his school teacher.