As you know from my last post, Janet and I recently went on a trip to the deep South with our eldest daughter, Kristin, and her oldest son, Connor. We were gone six days and it certainly brought back memories of trips we have taken together with our grandchildren throughout the years – especially when they were much younger.
We have been together in Hilton Head and had a great time, but years before that, we went to Williamsburg, VA for a visit. It was pretty much the first time Connor had been on a road trip and he was interested in the changing scenery as we headed east. For some reason, Connor was particularly fascinated by the colonial style architecture and as we approached a rest stop in western Virginia, we decided to stop and take a break from the road.
Of course, Connor wanted to be on his own, and even then, I didn’t think it was necessarily safe for him to enter a men’s room by himself. He headed off and I suddenly had an idea that we should make up rules of the road that he should learn and follow. I called out to him and he turned around, anxious to hear what I had to say. The first thing that I noticed was a sign that the State of Virginia had put up about rules at the rest stop – the first one was, “No smoking in the bathroom.” So, I taught Connor that the first rule was “No smoking in the bathroom.”
Of course, he laughed and let me know that he didn’t smoke (he was probably six at the time), but I told him that we had to be sure to follow the rules. He headed to the restroom while I stood outside the door, making sure that he was alone. When he returned, I asked him if he had smoked while he was in there… of course, he said, “no!” I “checked” his pockets for cigarettes and also bent down to smell his breathe… and then we headed back to the car. From that moment on, every time we made a stop, I asked Connor to recite rule number 1. And he would laugh as he responded, “no smoking in the bathroom.” It became a “thing” with us and with our other grandchildren as they followed in Connor’s steps.
Now I am sure that all of this may seem rather ridiculous but the truth of the matter is that we have added rules throughout the years. Things like, “wash your hands when you are done…” One night during dinner in a restaurant on the road we even nicknamed each grandchild based on traits that they had. It was like a secret family “code” – not malicious or anything, but done in the spirit of fun – and to this day, each grandchild remembers their “road” nickname! Of course, Janet and I were given our nicknames as well! It’s not important that I reveal what name each of us received, but the point of this post is that the things that they were taught at very early ages have stayed with them.
Last week, when we headed out on our trip down South, one of the first things I asked Connor as we pulled onto the highway was whether or not he remembered rule number 1. Without skipping a beat, he recited rule number 1 as if he had learned it yesterday at that Virginia rest stop – but that was about 12 years ago – a long time in the life of a child.
Now, they are entering a more dangerous time. They are all in their teens and all of us who have been through that phase of life with our children know that it is difficult to continue to help them stay on the straight and narrow with all the influences they face in today’s world.
We must put our faith in God and His word. And that is where our verse for this evening comes from. We are told in Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” My encouragement tonight is that we should not lose hope for our children and grandchildren if we have been steadfast in their education and upbringing. There may be times when we have doubts but hang tight… God is in control. My prayer is that our children and grandchildren will remember the things they have been taught, especially when it comes to God, and will look to those foundational values when times get tough and they are challenged in the world. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…