June 6, 2008
Teach Them Something Useful
by Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Entertainment Editor
Point your kids in the right direction - when they're old they won't be lost.
Proverbs 22:6, The Message
I am officially old.
Now that my niece has turned 16 and my nephew has turned 14, I am feeling the years. But at the same time, I am also reminiscing. I like to remember what it was like to care for Jessica and Justin in their younger years.
"I used to change your diapers," I remind them with a twinkle in my eye, from time to time. That was back when Jessica had finger-in-a-light-socket hair and Justin looked like The Michelin Man, Jr. with cute rolls of chubbiness.
Back before they were born, I had requested to be called "Auntie Laura," as I wanted to be more of an eccentric kind of aunt. One who would be in charge of laughter and good times.
Some of the first words I taught my niece to say were "gunky buildup." I'll admit it was an odd choice, but I was inspired after watching a TV commercial for drain cleaner one day. I thought, What a great word combo! And so I turned and said to my toddler-aged niece: "Say, gunky buildup, Jessica." And she responded, "Gungeebiddup, Auntie Wah-Wah! Gungeebiddup!"
I also remember giving Jessica her first peanut butter cup. Granted, she didn't have teeth yet. So I just held it up to her mouth, while she gnawed on it a bit. It ended up a gooey, drool of a mess. But I thought she needed to taste the most wonderful food combination in the history of the world, ever: Peanut butter and chocolate.
Meanwhile back in the crib, Justin had learned to hold up both of his fists and shake them while clenching his face tightly to show his anger. I can't take credit for teaching him this, but I can take credit for mimicking his actions back to him in the hopes that he would do it again. And again. And again! And provide his Auntie Laura with many moments of laughter.
My long-suffering and patient sister Lisa would generally shake her head at me when I spent time with her children. More often than not, she would say: "Teach them something useful!" I knew she was half-kidding and half-serious at the same time. But I also knew that some day I would need to step it up a notch in my sphere of influence.
Well, that time has now come. And I realize that I must leave them a lasting legacy of things that are "useful." I have a responsibility to those who are younger than me in my life-both physically and spiritually-to model biblical values and to reflect Christ in word and in deed.
As I refocus and recalibrate in this next season of my niece's and nephew's lives, I pray that I will be able to "teach what is in accord with sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1) and model a life of obedience and devotion to God.
Because that, indeed, is "something useful."
Intersecting Faith & Life: How are you modeling Christ to those who are younger than you in the faith? Whether related or not, do you have children in your life who look to you as a role model? Prayerfully consider how you can set a good example for those still growing, both physically and spiritually.