My two-year-old has a radar for the sound of the dishwasher opening. His running feet slap on the hardwood, and I try not to cringe. Because let’s face it, some jobs…most jobs are easier without little helpers who put the bowls in wrong-side-down and in the wrong spaces.
But, here he comes. “I hep you! I hep you!”
He’s so eager, and proud, and willing. It is so sweet that my heart turns to mush. I summon my patience, because teaching my child the value of contributing to the household will be worth it even though it will take far longer to do a task I’d rather zip through.
He reaches for me to pass him something from the sink. He plops down his plastic bowl face up, slides the dishwasher rack in, and attempts to close the door and press the buttons. “I did it! All done!”
I tell him we aren’t finished yet, and show him the correct way to put the dish in. Then I deem him the spoon depositor. Every time I hand him something, “Shank shu! Shank shu!”
And, every time I respond with, “You’re welcome.” We find our little rhythm. Periodically, I have to remind him that we aren’t finished as he fascinates himself with sliding the racks in and out.
I’ve frequently heard the phrase that children think the world revolves around them, but when I consider my children’s behavior, frequently underfoot and ready to jump into whatever task I am trying to complete, I can’t help but see that it’s my orbit they are trying to break into.
In the day-to-day I have take a deep breath and remember that efficiency isn’t always king. Which is tough. I value efficiency. However, there is something greater at work here than my desire. Self-confidence, responsibility, discipline, education, social skills, and dexterity are developed at my feet. But, greater than all these things–relationship. Chores for kids= relationship and bonding.
Sure, I’m tempted to shoo them away, and there are occasions when time is of the essence. However, I challenge myself not to push them off with “Go play. Mommy’s busy.” They’ll have their own little worlds soon enough. They won’t crave to exist inside of mine forever.
Jesus calls his followers children of God. Tonight I smiled as little Levi clumsily loaded dishes in the dishwasher with me, because I couldn’t help but see God looking down on us. We are called to share Him with the world. With urgency we scurry over. “Me! I’ll help you!” Here we go, so eager to help, putting the bowl in the wrong way, sliding the rack in and declaring with unmistakable pride, “All done!”
He is such a good and kind Father, an infinitely more patient parent than I. He never shoos us away as we seek to dive into His orbit and do Kingdom work with Him even though He knows we are sure to miss the mark. How gently he corrects us, and shows us the right way to go about things if we have ears to listen. Many times in life we think we’re “done.” He opens our eyes to show us that there is so much more.
He doesn’t need us. He wants us. We’re clumsy, messy, impatient, short-sighted, and short-armed, still He wants us to join in His orbit. For our growth. To reflect His goodness to others. For relationship. He isn’t looking for perfect, He is looking for willingness and an eager heart. Through the cracks of our weaknesses His glory shines.