Now I was driving home late at night and realized what he needed most was to feel understood, even at this crazy hour.
That's when it hit me... it felt like God himself showed me what needed to be done.
What my son needed most was to feel understood.
He'd had a rough night with some local kids, and it wasn't the first time. Perhaps it all added up, but it had really rattled him. My wife shared that he walked into the house angry that he wasn't allowed to just punch them all. "I'm not sure I like being a Christian in these moments," he vented.
I was at a meeting when it all happened and didn't come home until about 10pm. It was a school night, but since we do an online public school we have some wiggle room with our schedule. Knocking on his door, I was invited in. Apparently he was still awake.
"Hey buddy," I began. "Can you come downstairs?"
"Okay," he replied, assuming we were about to have a lecture.
We stood in our kitchen for a moment as I continued. "Do you have anything big in the morning, like a test?"
"No," he replied, somewhat puzzled.
"Want to watch a movie?" I asked.
"Um, sure... wait, is mom okay with that?"
"She is, or rather she's trusting however I want to spend this time with you. So a movie it is. Want a snack? Some ice cream, maybe?"
"Okay," he replied, smiling.
"How about a soda, too?"
As if to say, "I see you."
We took it over to our living room and popped in the movie. Before I hit play, I showed him pictures of two of my adult friends on Facebook.
"This is Scott," I explained. "And this is Mike. Scott always tried to get Mike and I to get along, but I couldn't stand Mike and he couldn't stand me. Then one day in high school we somehow became friends. I've followed his career as a video game designer, including when he designed some games for George Lucas and the Star Wars franchise."
"Cool," my son replied.
"In honor of Mike, we're going to watch a Star Wars movie you haven't seen yet."
And so we began watching Episode 3 in the Star Wars saga around 10:30pm on a school night.
As if to say, "I know you."
I realized this when my son observed, "Anakin really lost his way. I can relate to how he feels, but what he did was just wrong. I'm kind of glad I didn't just go off on those guys tonight. Was that God helping me?"
I nodded, which led into a brief exchange about how wise I thought my son was for seeing through the moment and grasping the larger picture.
As if to say, "I understand you."
I know that what I've described may all sound either weird to a casual reader, or that I'm perhaps some time of zen-master parent who always nails this kind of stuff. Honestly, I'm probably closer to the former than the latter.
I do appreciate the Holy Spirit's leadership in such moments, though. Perhaps in sharing the win with my kid out loud it inspires you to do something similar in your parenting... sort of a "may the force be with you" baton pass.
By more deeply connecting with your kids you help them more deeply connect with God.
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)