Since parents first discovered that children have minds and thoughts of their own, and that those thoughts often draw arms against our own, they have been deployed to the front: charged with securing the gates from assaults like “But I don't wanna ...” and “You're no fun.” To establish and defend our fortress of authority, we will deploy the troops of reason. We may even descend to guerrilla tactics of bribery. We wage a gentleman's war of red-coated, rank-and-file parenting that, while admired by our peers, proves herculean to simply hold our ground. Meanwhile, our cherub-faced adversaries counter-attack with puppy-dog eyes and knee-high hugs, breaching the walls of our defenses by melting them like microwaved butter. They are effective little emissaries.
However, in the cache of parental last-wit wisdom, there is one final mortar in our arsenal. "Because I said so" is the nuclear bomb of paternity – always there, but we promise it is just for show. It is meant to keep the troops in line though we would never dream of launching it.
Then it happens.
One of the spawns (usually the youngest because of the chromosomal dilution that exists in the ultimate of the herd) finds that corner of our psyche where the nerves have been rubbed raw by their trailblazing siblings. With the pinpoint accuracy of a shark tracking blood in the water, our little blessing has located our soft underbelly. It's not as if they intend to turn our resolve to goo. No, not at all. They are merely sending out soundings, searching for the shallow pool in our will. I can't imagine that the children whom I love have in mind applying the physics of erosion to my spirit. I seriously doubt that my six-year-old has read The Art of War and has mapped out his plan of attack. No, he is driven by the valor of toddlers who have gone before him and is taking his stand on his appointed front.
I am convinced (though I don't recall attending the summit when I was a lad) that somewhere in the bowels of a Chuck E. Cheese in the upper midwest sits a centuries-old jungle gym hewn out of volcanic rock. On it sits a seven-year-old that has descended from the line of kings that rule this lair. At the proper time, each child is summoned in their sleep to appear before this freckle-faced sovereign and assume his or her mantle. No words are spoken when they meet. None need be. They all know why they are there. The face of a little girl or boy – somewhere between a muse of Anne Gedes and Alfred E. Newman – looks up to receive what has been passed down to representatives of their clan through the years. His Majesty leans forward with a twinkle in his eye, drunk on the anticipation of indoctrinating a new liege. His lips purse together and the heavy air is broken by the shrill yet oddly amusing cadence of the king...
"All you need to know to break them is one word: 'Why?'"
That is all. Anticipation melts into undulating joy. Attendants smile and draw breath once again. The young child feels the electric surge of heavy life in his veins. He has received the secret of the ancients. The children now have in their possession the grenade that they will lob from behind every conversational shanty on their path. It is this barrage of single syllable questioning that finally pushes the familial general to drop “the big one.” With a desperate reluctance, he forms the words. The air that had been filled with doctrinal-level arguments is now pierced with a single sentence that will bring an uneasy but unassailable truce...
"Because I'm the dad and I said so." Checkmate.
That is how we wield the authoritarian power of chronological or ancestral supremacy. We are older. We came first. We were the “first cause” in our offspring's universe. Therefore, our word is iron-clad. While effective, "the bomb" is usually not a harbinger of great tidings for the defeated foe. He or she will now have to submit to a charge that is against his or her will. It's not necessarily good news.
Our experience with losing the battle of wills with our predecessors may be why we have such skepticism when dealing with our Heavenly Father. We don't like to hear “Because I said so,” and if we think our own children have no recourse left available to them when we employ this tactical truth, how much less do we have at our disposal when we face off with the will of the Almighty?
But, if we will consider the way that our God uses His trump card, maybe we ought to surrender before the first weapon is ever raised. While human parents may use our authority to finally secure submission to a task or command, our Heavenly Father uses His authority to bring blessings beyond our grasp.
Oranges explode with a liquid that ignites every corner of our tongue with joy. Each season produces a tapestry of colors that should make aspiring artists blush. The smile of a child is so valuable that it will turn the most iron-faced curmudgeon into a babbling caricature. Why?! Food doesn't have to be delicious to accomplish its nutritive purposes. Nature doesn't have to be beautiful to progress. To go from cradle to grave does not necessitate joy along the journey. So why is there such pleasure when mere utilitarianism is required? Why would our King die to ransom a subject bent on anarchy?
"Because I AM said so." Checkmate. Lay down your arms. Let us not let our aversion to surrender stand in the way of enjoying the very good “so” that our loving Father has said.
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