Anyone who is a parent has probably been served the odd piece of humble pie. It goes with the territory.
I’d be shocked if there is a parent who has made it through their kids’ childhood without suffering the humiliation of a public toddler temper tantrum, or a moment of innocent curiosity followed by a loud question regarding the stranger standing within ear shot, or the sharp tongue of a teen who voices their opinion in front of their younger siblings and leaves you standing with your cheeks burning and teeth clenched.
Of course, there are some children who seem to have perfected the art of serving their parent’s humble pie.
Choking on a few slices
Aiden, unbeknownst to him as a child, served it up with gusto. He definitely knew his mind at an early age which I appreciate now (usually), but at 2 years old when I was dragging him kicking and screaming from the ski lodge on the 20 minute hike back UP the mountain, sweating like a pig beneath my parka, all because he wasn’t old enough to go skiing with his brothers; it was a slice of pie I thought I’d choke on.
When Steve took him along to visit his potential customer and Aiden reached from his car seat, rolled down his window and promptly informed the stranger that he should put out his cigarette or he was going to die, that was a piece of pie Steve would gladly have forgone.
Or the time, I lunged across the subway car to clamp my hand over his mouth after seeing him eye the man across from him who had a potbelly that made even my eyes pop. I saw him take a breath and knew exactly what question was going to erupt from the inquisitive little mind and though my mind was fine tuned to read his, my body didn’t quite have the cat like reflexes required to avoid the entire pie being served up in the faces of Steve, myself and the older boys.
I’ve grudgingly eaten my share of humble pie as I’m sure many other parents have before me.
My Hands are Tied
But once in awhile I’m humbled in a way that doesn’t require me to choke down my piece or eat it in shame. It leaves a sweet aftertaste that sustains me for a while to come. In those instances, I’m so thankful for the lesson in humility that goes along with it.
Last week, we sent our oldest back to college after his first visit home. No more than a couple hours after leaving, he began to feel sick and sure enough, by a week in, it was confirmed that he had developed shingles, he was fighting a virus that had inflamed his throat to the point that he couldn’t eat and lost over 15 lbs and his roommate, who shares his 10 by 10 cubical of a room, had influenza A.
Talk about a rough initiation back into college life. Talk about just wanting to come home. Talk about feeling like your hands are tied because you’re a 26 hour drive from your kid.
So you pray and encourage and support, all while watching him get thinner and paler and sicker. Despite his 18 years, he’s your kid and you worry.
After a week of watching him go downhill, I reached out in my moment of weakness to the dean of chapel at Dordt, a school with 1400 students and prayed that I wouldn’t humiliate myself or my son in my effort to find someone who could check in on him and encourage him. I put out a prayer request to family and then prayed some more.
It takes a village
That Friday night, I sat in discouragement as I prepared to listen to Sir Ken Robinson speak at the school event. We were grateful for the tickets gifted to us but my heart wasn’t in it.
But from the moment he opened his mouth, I was captivated, encouraged, and inspired. For the whole hour, I forgot my worries as I imagined the possibilities and the impact a school and community can make on the lives of our children. How blessed to be a part of such a community.
As Sir Ken wrapped up, I noticed a new email on my phone. It was the dean, responding with reassurance that he had invited Caleb to spend an evening with his family.
Throughout the week I watched a web of people came forward to support and encourage:
A friend who contacted her sister-in-law to find us a medical clinic.
A doctor from the local community who phoned me on her own time to talk about all the medical options.
The coach who picked him up and drove him to his doctor’s appointment and offered to shop for any medication.
Friends and family who sent him encouraging messages.
The Dordt recruiter, having long since finished his ‘job’ after securing Caleb as a student, who invited him over for Sunday lunch.
It was a humbling and beautiful thing to witness. I am not solely responsible for the well-being of my child. Thank the Lord.
God is faithful and had no intention of leaving Caleb to flounder on his own, 1000 miles away.
I needed the reminder. He has recourses in every community and school and how amazing to be part of such an extended community. It was a very humbling moment as I witnessed the greatness of our God and as I relinquished my control.
It was a sweet slice of humble pie and I happily ate up every crumb.