My parents done good. As one of the few who have first-hand experience of being raised by them, I stand by the truth of this statement.
Yesterday marked a rather significant day in my life, one which was probably pretty memorable for my parents. So in honour of the fact that they have never given in to the temptation to put me up for adoption, here are twenty-two things they have taught me, one for each year of their patience.
1. How to use a spoon.
It’s good to remind yourself of this when you’re getting frustrated trying to teach your parents something. I am profoundly grateful for (and humbled by) this lesson, it’s one I use often.
2. How to cook.
This is a natural but somewhat later progression from spoon usage and equally valuable. A few of my friends at uni reaped the benefits in different ways (seriously though, who doesn’t know how to make an omellette?!). Other lessons in the domestic category include cleaning, laundry, and budgeting.
Don’t hate your parents kids, they’re working hard to save you from dying of starvation beneath a mound of dirty laundry, surrounded by a graveyard of pot noodle packets.
3. How to behave.
The boys and I might be of the millennial age bracket but we know to say please and thank you, to respect others, and to be generally polite and considerate. Whether we choose to act on that or not…
Just kidding. Discipline is good for children.
4. It’s ok to be a little grumpy at home.
There are behaviours which are definitely not acceptable at any time but mum and dad always gave us a little more freedom at home. The reason for this? Because we all need a safe place in which to (healthily) express emotions like pain, frustration, and sorrow which is not appropriate to the same degree in public.
5. If I do this, I can’t do that.
This is actually a proverb but I can’t remember if it’s Arabic or Chinese. It was bluetacked to a cupboard door in the kitchen for years, reminding us to honour our commitments even if a better offer came along later. It was also a reminder to be wise in our commitments because you simply can’t do everything.
6. To love stories.
Dad, I know you really didn’t like the Redwall series because why would anyone think it was a good idea to write an entire series about medieval talking mice in clothes. But thank you for taking your turn in reading to us. And mum, your lightly edited version of The Twits will remain with me for years to come.
Thank you for taking the time to read us bedtime stories and to read them well. One day I might even dedicate a book of my own to you guys.
7. Grades don’t matter.
My parents taught us that grades aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. I know they meant it because they are both really clever but never put pressure on any of us to be prodigies even in the things we were good at. I’m grateful.
There was a snowy night once. And there were giant piles of leaves in the park once.
That is all.
Sometimes you can’t help thinking that ‘to die is gain’ but you need to remember that at the same time, ‘to live is Christ’. Life is pants sometimes but we’ll think nothing of it in eternity.
10. How to deal with difficult situations.
I suspect that mum and dad protected us from quite a lot but they also listened, advised, and walked us through some pretty tough things. Now I find that I am better equipped to deal with these things as an adult and I am grateful.
11. How to say ‘get a life’ in Latin.
Thanks dad, it still gives me enormous pleasure. On a related note, thanks for the blog name too.
12. Children are a gift from God.
Every child, not just your own. You’ve never given me reason to doubt it.
13. Family is important.
There are times where it is necessary to put everything on hold for your family if they need you. Unsaved family are a special mission field all of their own.
14. Money isn’t everything.
Neither is the display of it. The world can mock me all it likes for not being able to afford ‘real’ Converse but I’ll just smile and think of Harriet and Bon and Nafisa, Intan, and Yefta.
15. Marriage is hard.
No one is perfect and Chicken Run remains a sad movie.
16. Marriage is good.
You did it! You lasted twenty-five years longer than predicted! And I’ve loved seeing you grow together, particularly in the past few years.
17. How to think critically.
And that right there is why families should eat together at least once a day and be encouraged to talk at the table. Other reasons include witty banter, courtesy of your siblings.
18. To tell the truth.
I don’t think she’s going to make it are not words that a thirteen year old wants to hear but I’m glad that my parents were honest even when it hurt. There was never no hope, it just wasn’t unrealistic.
19. People are important.
Sometimes you just have to be late for something or miss a prayer meeting because something has happened and someone needs some of your time. And that’s ok because it’s important to take time for people.
20. Love is a choice.
Love is the wilful commitment to the good of another person. Feelings are great while they last but they are in constant flux. You aren’t always going to feel like loving people or doing the hard thing because that’s what’s best for them. But if you love them, you make that choice.
21. A cup of tea will solve (almost) anything.
At the very least it will make you feel better which will help you work out a solution to your problem. Our family gets through a lot of kettles. If dad reads this, the bets are that there is a cup of tea within arms reach of where he is sitting.
22. The Gospel.
The sweetest, most valuable thing that anyone can teach their children (or anyone really) is the gospel. When you live with someone, you get to see more of their sin but you also have greater opportunity to watch grace working in them. Mum and dad taught us the gospel using words but those words meant something because they permeated their lives. If I learned nothing else from them I am (literally) eternally grateful that they taught me the Gospel.
x x x
So there we are. These good people have taught me so much more than just the above. Honourable mentions include identifying common british garden birds; how to ride a bike; discipline; discernment; and the words to Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.
We’ve had our share of conflict but I wouldn’t swap the two of them for anything in the world. And more than anything I am thankful to God that they are not just my family in the sense of earthly blood but by the precious blood of Christ.