Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Adjusting My Vision

My older son is a good boy. Beyond that, he is a good person. He looks out for his siblings. He sweeps the floor after chess club without being asked. He looks forward to our volunteer shift at the food pantry every month. When he heard our pastor call for a second collection to go to relief services in Haiti, he came home from mass and emptied his piggy bank, surprising us with a handful of coins and a desire to do more.

He often writes his sister little notes of love. He reads to his younger brother, and more than once, I've caught him patiently explaining things to him. When his little brother is sad or lonely at night, he will sit on his bed and cuddle him, wishing him "happy dreams."

His moral compass is learning its true north. He considers moral questions in many contexts: with friends, in video games, in scouts, in school. I've walked into the dining room to find him sitting before a snack, hands folded and head bowed in prayer.

I consider it an incredible privilege to know my son. I am proud of the boy he is, and I look forward to watching this boy grow into an honest, compassionate, Christian man.

So, why is it, knowing this as I do, knowing him as I do, that most of the time, when I see my son, I see the disrespectful roll of his eyes? I see the near-constant mess on his bedroom floor. I see him fighting with his siblings. I hear him arguing with me about completing school work or chores. I hear only the whine in his voice and the complaint in his words.

Why do I see mostly the negative and not the overwhelming positive?

Perhaps because he and I are so alike. Both of us are firstborns, perfectionists, easily frustrated and highly demanding. Nearly all of my bad habits? He's got them. (At least he picked up some of my good habits, too).

Perhaps because the negative behaviors require me to respond, while the positive ones don't.

Perhaps because I know what he is capable of doing, and I'm disappointed when he does less.

Whatever the reason, it's time for me to adjust my vision.

When I see my son, I need to see all the good that is in him. I need to hold his gentleness, his kindness, his compassion close to my heart. I need to remember that he is, first and foremost, a child of God, precious in His eyes. I need to remember that he is our much-hoped-for first child, precious in our eyes, too.

Perhaps if I succeed in adjusting my vision, in seeing the positive before I respond to the negative, we will find ourselves living in a more peaceful, loving and Christian home.

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