Saturday, January 22, 2011

Character and the Blue Lines

I sat in the car with my green eyed blue lines yesterday. She was giddy at the suffering of someone who had hurt her. I was surprised at my reaction to her inappropriate rejoicing. I felt guilty that I had missed something important.

When I dreamt of being a mom, when I was a little girl, it never involved character building. I remember setting up my room as a house with the kitchen over here and the nursery over there. I would grab my blocks and pretend to iron all of my husband’s clothes to a perfect crease while my angelic baby slept in her hand carved cradle. In my child mind my blue lines were never dirty. They were never sick with anything except for something exotic that was miraculously healed, just in time for dinner. No one ever puked on me, everyone slept through the night, dinner was always everyone’s favorite and my husband’s pants were always perfectly ironed.

When my first set of blue lines came I still believed this lie. She was startlingly beautiful from the moment she opened her pretty green eyes. She slept angelically – although she did snore, but hey, no one is perfect. And I ironed everything that I came in contact with. But, something happened as the days and years went on. She started to grow up. By the time she was five I realized that there was more to this motherhood thing than just that which my child-mind invented twenty years before. I was responsible to give this beautiful little girl the tools that were necessary to become a woman. By the time I realized this, I also had a set of brown eyed blue lines who needed different tools, that would be necessary to become a man.

It was in this moment that I woke up and realized that I was wholly unprepared for instilling character into my blue lines. What on earth was God thinking when He gave them to me? Was He insane? I don’t know what I am supposed to do!!! An unprepared person should not be given this responsibility. Blue lines are too important to leave in the hands of someone like me!

Over the next few months I worked on three character qualities that I wanted my blue lines to have. I figured I could come up with three. I had never heard other parents lamenting that they had trouble coming up with pillars of their children’s character before. But, two months in and not a single idea, I was desperate. I was watching Thomas the Train with my blue lines when I heard Mr. Conductor say: “Thomas, a good engine is always RESPONSIBLE, RELIABLE, and RIGHT ON TIME.” Well, I am happy to say that I have taken his wisdom and used these three character traits as the “pillars” of my children’s character. No, there was not a spiritual journey to the pillars. It was an exhausted grab at the first thing that sounded good.

Since that time, we have used our three character qualities over and over. They have evolved from an act of desperation on my part, to a mainstay in our home. If I cannot teach my blue lines to be RESPONSIBLE, RELIABLE and RIGHT ON TIME in childhood, then I have no hope that they will learn when they reach the teenage years. I have been able to have the talk with my green eyed blue lines that her mastery of these qualities will give her more freedom and privileges into her teen years and at eight, she has a rudimentary understanding of this principal.

Our moment in the car where I had to pull over to discuss a character trait that was out of whack was an honor. I have been given a gift in my blue lines and I believe that God gave them to me – not out of insanity, but out of grace to me. I have so much less figured out than I did when I was a little girl. But, that is a good thing!

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