It happens all day, everyday. Who would have thought “first one to the car” could become a competitive sport? (or a contact sport for that matter). With three boys all about the same age, competition is a way of life in this house. I’m not just talking about soccer, football, wrestling, and wiffle ball – which, by the way, get played all year round, inside and out (I gave up on “no balls in the house” as a lost cause). I’m talking from the first thump to the ground off the top bunk to finishing Math first, to building the best lego robot (which becomes competitive in battle when the robots accumulate various powers to defeat the other robots – forcefields really complicate the matter), to plastic army guys battling it out in the hallway, to brushing teeth fastest (which has more than once become a toothpaste battle) to counting punch buggies on the highway, to racing up the steps, racing down the steps, who can make their candy last the longest, and the list truly could go on and on. I mean, they have taken “step on a crack, break your mama’s back” to a whole new level. They have nearly been hit by cars in the parking lot trying to avoid cracks in the pavement.
Without unnecessarily exposing my children’s shortcomings, I will simply say that along with such competition, there is much opportunity to shepherd hearts as they deal with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat a hundred times a day. One thing I am learning in the process is that boys are different from girls (me), and that is how God intended it. I call my boys my “little men”. My mom started it when I decided to name Joshua and Caleb after the men of the Bible. She used to call them her “little men of a different spirit”, because that’s what the Bible calls Joshua and Caleb. Eventually, we shortened it and included Izzy in the bunch. Now, I say it to build my faith and theirs: they are going to be men someday. They are going to be leaders. I want them to be bold, godly leaders who take risks and fight for what is right, and protect others, and subdue the earth as is their God-given mandate. What I am seeing in the competitions is the pursuit of manhood, but corrupted by sinful little hearts. My job is to have faith for the future man in each of them, and point out the foolishness that is bound in their hearts now.
I am learning. I don’t gasp every time somebody gets tackled. I know which bumps and cuts mean a trip to the E.R. and which don’t. I know all of the signs for a concussion (pupils dilated unevenly, nausea, acting disoriented). I know which yells are anger, and which are pain. I know that it is possible to wrestle, and not be angry…but not for very long. And I know that these boys are a precious gift from God, and I see His glory when I behold the stunning difference between them and me. Viva la difference!
*originally posted February ’05