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Volume 18, Issue 2: Virga

My Night

Matt Whitling

"Papa, is this my night?" "Bea, your night is on Friday, you have a few more days to wait." "Is this Friday?" "No, Bea, this is Tuesday. It's Jed's night." "Oh . . ."

One of the striking aspects of how God deals with His covenant people is that He spends time with them. He knows each of His children individually, intimately and perfectly. He doesn't simply deal with a category of beings called "kids." He knows each one of us and oversees the details of our lives, including events of such great significance as the loss of a single hair. This raises the bar when it comes to imitating Him in the way that He loves his children. Do we take the time to get to know each of our own children individually?
Imagine your busiest day, full of the most important meetings, deadlines, and tasks to complete. The success of your company depends upon your undivided attention. The welfare of your family depends upon your diligence, focus, and execution of your job, regardless of the time it may take.
After that colossal day at work you arrive home ready to rest. Enter your children wanting to wrestle, or needing to be disciplined, or asking to play football. Do you have the time? In light of your own busy schedule, consider the vocation of Christ. He was called to save the world. No one had a more important or difficult job to accomplish than He did. All of mankind, living and dead, depended upon Him fulfilling his commitments. Yet what attitude do we see in Him? Did He have time? "Let the little children come to Me. What do you want Me to do for you? Little girl I say to you arise. Who touched My clothes? Stretch out your hand. Son, your sins are forgiven you. I will come and heal him. I say to you, arise take up your bed, and go to your house. Little girl, arise."
As our family has grown, my wife and I have realized that spending individual time with our children is difficult unless we plan ahead. "Winging it" has become ineffective. Our plan has been to assign each child a day of the week upon which "my night" will take place.
Monday night is Josiah's. We eat chocolate pudding, and then usually invent something. At 12, Josiah is fond of Legos, duct tape, and weapons. He likes to discuss how things work and how they could be redesigned to work even better. (Some day you'll see adjustable electro-magnetic shocks for trucks with his patent on them.)
Tuesday night with Jed is usually spent playing basketball or darts. Regardless of the game, his main objective is to beat Papa. Jed wants to compete, and he's learning about the hours of diligence that are required in order to excel.
Wednesday night. "Papa, Is this my night?" "Sweet Bea, this is Wednesday." "Is Wednesday my night?" "Bea, your night is Friday, you have two more days to wait." "Oh …" This week, Cotton's night was spent eating pudding and narrating part three of a wolf-hunting story. I type while he reads the rough draft. He's a patient author. So far the father and son in the story have spent four pages trying to lure a bloodthirsty man-eating wolf close enough to get an arrow into him, but he's foiled them every time.
Miles has Thursday night all to himself. On Thursday from 8:00 to 8:30, Miles and I usually draw. Last week the two of us drew clipper ships on 3x5 cards, wrote To's: and From's: and then exchanged pictures—Miles loves a good picture with lots of "realistic shading."
"Papa, is this my night?" "Yes, Bea, this is Friday, and it is your night." Bea prefers lemon meringue pudding to chocolate and she sometimes has trouble slowing down her conversation to taste any of it. "Papa, do you think these socks match this shirt? I changed the shoes on all of my dolls today, and do you know what? I found out which one is the mother. Kit is the mother. Do you know how I found that out? I put all of the dolls on the bed next to each other and Kit was the tallest one. Just by a little bit, but it was clear, and so she's the mom from now on. Kit looks like the mother, doesn't she? I think that she makes the best mom because she is the biggest." Bea talks while I eat, watch, and wonder. What a delightfully different creature Sweet Bea is.
Jasper just recently received his own night—Sunday. He's two, and he's concerned Sunday morning right after breakfast that we have somehow missed his night already. The fact that everyone's night takes place after family worship at 8:00 pm has not fully settled in yet, and sometimes the fact that it is Sunday and "I haven't had my pooding" becomes a great concern to him. Jazz is in it heart and soul for the food and wrestling. He conquers his cupful of chocolate pudding in four mountainous spoon-fulls and doesn't sweat the extra brown stuff in the bottom of the cup. The rest of us scrape and scrounge across each contour to get every last puddle of pudding—not him. It's four large bites with as much pudding on the top as he has on the bottom of the spoon, and most of it makes it in his mouth. After dessert we wrestle, as long as Jazz starts on top.
Sometimes the duller parts of life get in the way of "my nights," but we don't panic. Doubling up, two people on one night, can take care of most inconveniences. At other times we have cancelled all "my nights" for a special occasion—out of town, visiting relatives, etc. Nonetheless, "my nights" go on without interuption mainly due to the tenacity of the kids. They know when it is their night, most of them at least, and they will not let my wife and I forget that we owe it to them to spend the time. They have come to expect individual love and interaction, and they won't settle for anything less.

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