We are starting the read the gospel of Mark in worship, and all over Mark, Jesus is busy casting out demons. That seems sort of weird in this day and age, especially if you grew up with “The Exorcist.” Most of us have not seen demons that look like that movie. But I do believe that the demonic is at work in our world in lots of ways. And the trouble is that so often evil looks, feels, smells and tastes really good, and is therefore really hard to recognize.
One kind of evil is the pressure we put on our kids. I just read an article about a push to start getting kids to be “pre-reading” in preschool! What happened to reading in second grade??? There is the pressure we put on them in sports and the expectation to “specialize” at a young age by playing one sport year-round. Wayne Gretzky recently said when he was a kid, after hockey season was over, he hung up his skates and played as many other sports as he could until it was hockey season again. And he is arguably the best hockey player ever. There is also the evil of consumerism. I don’t know about you, but I seem to spend more than I planned every single Christmas on gifts for my kids even though I promise myself I won’t.
What has happened to us? There are all kinds of theories. One that makes sense to me is how much we are now meddling in our kids’ lives, compared to our parents. I used to be able to ride my bike all over town and my parents would have no idea where I was—for the whole day! If I let my kids do that, someone would call CPS. Wait, kids have cell phones, so we can always know where they are—hooray! [?]
I wonder if we leave kids to their own devices a bit more, if they might be better off. I’m not advocating absentee parenting, but I am saying that if your preschooler is still eating crayons, or he can’t hold a scissors, or all she wants to do is play—celebrate it. He is good at being a kid. She is doing her one and only job—playing. And you don’t ever get a chance to be a kid again.
Same with sports. Let them try lots of things. Don’t worry about giving them every opportunity to be the best, because most of the time we learn even better lessons from losing.
And they will survive not having the latest gadgets and toys. They will.
Now if I can just believe it.
If your kids, like mine, were little when they were baptized, at the beginning of the service, we all rejected “the devil and all his empty promises.” I confess that I don’t do a good job of rejecting those empty promises. My kids do select sports, I worry about their grades too much, they have WAY too much stuff.
But I do try and reject the empty promises, too. When they have a friend over and they fight, I let them work it out. When I hear they misbehaved in school, I support their teacher—I don’t make excuses for them. I make them play more than one sport.
The rejections are small, but I really believe they are the best gift I can give my kids, because my job as their mom is to protect their childhood. There are a lot of evil forces that try and take it away from them, so I will just keep fighting for them. Will you join me?