See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are.
1 John 3:1
Years ago, when I was a young high school teacher, I had a kid in one of my classes named Daniel. I don’t remember his last name, or really anything else about him except a conversation I had with his mother at Parent-Teacher conferences. I was frustrated with his behavior in class, which I characterized to his mother as aggressive.
I remember that she cocked her head to the side and said, Would we call him agressive? Or would we call him assertive?
Aggressive, I said. Definitely aggressive.
I never knew why this small exchange stuck with me, except that the maker of heaven and earth knew that I would need to recall this interaction a decade later as the mother of two assertive boys of my own. See, to a 24 year old teacher with no children of her own, the difference in assertive and aggressive is a couple of consonants and a slight change in connotation.
But to a mother, assertive means your child may be a future defense attorney, and aggressive means saving money to hire your child’s future defense attorney.
And do you know that my thoughts immediately went to Daniel? Not even a second passed between those two thoughts in my head.
Bo, do you think you are a troublemaker?
I searched his eyes from the rearview mirror as he held his lovey.
No, he said.
Good. You might make trouble sometimes, but you’re not a troublemaker.
And I can say this because I am his mother, and this is what loving parents do: they see the best in us, always. That doesn’t mean they make excuses for us. It means they can see clearly what the world only sees through the haze of their own expectations and experiences.
My boys are wild, loud, adventurous, silly, stubborn as the day is long. Absolutely relentless once they have chosen a course of action. And although I long for them to be fit for public consumption before I’m too old to take them places, I’m also loathe to go against the wildness in their hearts and imaginations. Do I sometimes wish for hours and hours of quiet to think whole thoughts in my brain? Yes. All the time, actually. And while I’m at it, I could deal without the piles of dirty socks littering my house, and the pinecones they drag inside, and the dirty feet when they go back out to play after bath time.
But I’ll have all of that some day, and I’m betting what I’ll miss is their little heads hiding in the jungle/bushes in the backyard, Tucker charging imaginary bad guys with sticks, Bo’s wild laugh where he throws his head back in delight.
And the best part is that parenting my miniature wild things gives me constant glimpses of the love that God must have for me, wild as I am. Because I’m loud, messy, stubborn as the day is long. But He is a loving father who sees the best in me, always. If I in my weakness can see good in my children, even when they are messy and stubborn and yes, even aggressive, how much more good is He able to see in me?