Knife Wielding & Deuteronomy Reading Sons

fatherhood knives sons teaching

Working from home so much this past spring and summer has given me a fun glimpse into my kids' lives that I often miss when I am at work. One morning this past spring I was struggling to open a package and started looking around for a pair of scissors. My oldest Samuel (7) said, "I’ve got one!" and took off into his bedroom. He emerged with a 4-inch fillet knife. He was followed out of his room by his younger brothers Jacob (5) and Joseph (3), each holding a gnarly-looking knife of their own. 

I have no idea how the kids came to possess so many knives, especially in the hands of Joseph who just graduated from toddlerhood, and Jacob, who can hardly run from one room to another without hitting a wall or tripping over a dog. When I expressed some amazement over this I was informed that they keep them under their pillows to ward off "bad guys." In a brief moment of panic, I carefully examined each kid to make sure everyone was okay (all 21 digits were intact, thank God). After a peaceful disarmament, a chat on knife safety, and a discussion about “bad guys”, it dawned on me that even though my kids are little, there is no point at which they are not growing up, not absorbing information from around them, and not forming beliefs about other people, themselves, and God.

This hit home again several days later when Samuel slept in really late. After waking him up, I asked why he was so tired. "I read Deuteronomy in bed last night" was the reply. I could have sworn I heard invisible choirs singing my praises for being such a good father, raising a child who stays up late to read the Bible. 

"What did you learn when reading it?" I asked. 

"Parts of it are funny, like the wave offering." 

Agreed, that's weird. 

He continued, "I don't like it when God tells them to kill each other." I was sort of surprised. When does that happen? 

"Oh like when people sleep together. What's wrong with sleeping together?" 

Well crap. Part of me was hoping to be dead before this conversation topic came along. 

In reality, I was able to manage the ensuing conversation with some grace. However, I am constantly being reminded that my kids are sprinting through childhood. They are adventurous and inquisitive in the same ways that I was at their age. The questions they ask as kids will help shape their worldview as young adults. If I don't respond to the desire for this information, my kids will search for it and get it elsewhere. 

The same is true of their needs for affirmation, acknowledgement, self worth, and identity. My boys are not waiting for me to achieve mastery of uncomfortable topics before asking about them. My daughter is not waiting for me to figure out my faith and doubt before she grows into a young woman. The time is now to step up and be their father. It is for this reason, among others, that God has placed me where I am.

 

Trevor Annis
Restoration Project Advocate 
Olympia, Washington