“How was school?”
“What about lunch?”
“Recess? Was recess good?”
There was a delay. I always ask my son these questions when I pick him up from school. He always says the same thing.
I have to interrogate for more details. But whenever there is a delay, I know that it’s not good. On this day, apparently recess wasn’t good.
“It was just okay.”
The interrogation began. Answers came slowly. There was a girl involved.
My son was playing with his friend when the alleged female perpetrator walked up and gave her demand to my son.
“You can’t play with us. Leave.”
I asked him what he did.
“I just left and played something by myself.”
“Did you cry?”
“Were you sad?”
My heart broke. I know that there are lessons to be learned from this but it’s still no fun seeing your son with a crushed spirit. So I tried to lift him up. I told him how this kind of thing will happen to him from time to time. I reminded him that Jesus loves him and that his mom and dad do too. I told him that growing up and being a leader means that there will always be people who criticize you or are mean to you.
He waited politely for me to finish my speech.
“Can you turn it up?”
He wasn’t telling me to talk louder.
“Can you turn it up?”
He was talking about the radio.
It was playing Whitesnake.
Here I Go Again.
Sometimes a boy just needs some Whitesnake to help him deal with the pain of a broken heart.
But that’s never enough.
Most of the time he’s going to need a dad. An annoying dad. A dad that keeps asking questions.
It is those questions and the conversations that they lead to that help to shape him. Without those talks, boys are likely to grow up with bitter, hard hearts towards all girls, always afraid of getting hurt. Even worse, there is the chance of a boy growing up to treat girls as objects. Objects that exist for nothing more than his personal satisfaction. No matter the cost.
Here I Go Again was an appropriate song for my son to hear that day. He’s going to face that kind of rejection again. But it’s my job to guide him through it. It’s my job to remind him that nothing can separate him from the love of Christ. And it’s my job to teach him how to treat girls. Even the ones that reject him.
Eleven years ago, long before I had that conversation with my son, I had another conversation. A conversation with the girl who would one day be his mother. On a Halloween night on the banks of the Mississippi River in New Orleans, I pulled a ring from my pocket and asked her to marry me. There was no rejection. She said yes.
Two months before, I didn’t even know her. A day after I met her I knew that God sent a good thing my way. I pray that he does the same thing for my boys. And I pray that when he does, my boys are ready.
But right now, as young as they are, they are in the preparation phase. They are being shaped. Developed.
Shaped and developed on the way home from school and in a host of other scenarios.
By their father.
With just a little help from Whitesnake.