Whether we are headed off on a walk, an outing to the beach, or just in our own backyard our six-year-old can usually be spotted with his trusty side-kick, a blue butterfly net. Each butterfly he catches is miraculous and few things in life bring him more joy than his collection of canned butterflies in my old mason jars!
After an unexpected conversation with one of my other sons tonight I realized I need a trusty side-kick to catch things I could easily miss with my children as well! I’m slowly learning (that seems to be the only way I do learn!) the best way to catch these small but important little details of their life is a brief but VERY meaningful one-on-one interaction with each of them. Since most days I hit the ground running with my young and active crew, I’m discovering the bedtime hour when their eyes are sleepy and their hearts are tender is too precious of a time for me to ever waste.
During the buzz of noise and laughter as four little people pull on pajamas and brush their teeth, I try to grab one kid at a time and pull them into my lap. When I clasp their little faces in my hands and look them in the eye, it’s the perfect moment to affirm them.
I remind them who they are and Whose they are.
I’m often surprised at what gets “caught” in this quiet one-on-one time with each child.
“Do you know we love you very much and that we are proud of you, Judah?” I asked my four-year-old who shook his head and furrowed his brow in response.
“If you do,” he replied, “then why did you leave me at the beach today?”
Before you call freak out, let me quickly explain that his version of “leaving him” meant that we all headed (very slowly) up the hill towards our car (all the while watching him carefully out of the corner of my eye!). This was only after I had called to him to get out of the water maybe five...or five HUNDRED times. This finally motivated him to burst out of the lake and run with super-speed after us, wailing, “Don’t leave me!!”
“Judah,” I squeezed him in a hug, “It’s BECAUSE we love you that we discipline you and teach you there are consequences to your actions.” After this, we had a great conversation (as great as possible with a kid who has the attention span of an excited puppy!!) about unconditional love. A moment later, once again secure in our love, he bounded off to join his siblings without a care in the world.
Everytime I see my son’s butterflies in those mason jars, I’m going to remember this night. I’m going to try and not forget how important face-to-face encounters with our children can be. When we encourage them and listen to any concerns and fears weighing on their little hearts, God helps us catch things as miraculous as His beautiful butterflies!