We're enjoying some time at our vacation spot of choice this weekend. No, not a timeshare or an amusement park... we're at Grammy and Grampy's. Having been blessed with sweet, loving people for in-laws, yes, it's really fun for me, too. Ryan, Richie, and Maelynn adore their grandparents. When we're here there are several little things the kids enjoy, but the one that they really look forward to is the people train... otherwise known as the DART train, the commuter rail transportation in the Dallas area.
I have to admit I enjoy it, too. It's fun to people watch, and I just like riding the train. Then there's the fun of watching the kids' sheer delight in waiting on the platform, watching the buildings go by, the changing of the people with every stop, and of course, the stop to get ice cream as we wait for the train to go back.
The flipside of this (you know there's always a flipside) is that Ryan's social skills don't exactly include gratefulness. Or tact. So for the week since we were here for a short time to attend a special wedding last weekend, Ryan has been consistently demanding the people train. It goes a little somethin' like this:
Ryan: Do you want to go on the people train?
Mommy: We're planning on that this weekend.
Ryan: You WILL go on the people train!
Mommy: Ryan, we are talking about when we'll go. Be sweet and don't demand it, okay?
Ryan: PEOPLE TRAIN!!! PEOPLE TRAIN!!!
About this time, you can insert smacking of the chest, head, legs floor... whatever's handy, and screaming and crying.
All I want to do is give my boy a gift. All we want is for him to enjoy himself. Ryan's grandparents are more than willing to do whatever we think is best, and they share our desire to give the kids something cool to do. This time, though, I almost didn't think it was a good idea to take him. Sometime he has to learn thankfulness, gratitude, and the art of graciously accepting a gift... not to mention graciously waiting to see if you get that gift. Gratitude and yelling over and over while hitting yourself and demanding something just don't go hand in hand in my mind. As I type this, he sits snuggled in tight to me in the oversized chair while the littles nap, saying "you WILL go on the people train!" every now and again.
We want all our kids, and we want to, live in a way that shows gratitude for everything. There are so many things, situations, and people in our lives for which/whom we are so blessed. We don't want to live so wrapped up in what we don't have or what we might get that we miss what we have. That is a sad state in which so many live, and it's a tempting road to travel. It's easy. The road is wide that leads to that type of hamster-wheel of misery. So it was a not-so-little twinge of panic that almost made me argue to not take the kids on the people train this time. After all, when are they going to learn? Ryan had NOT been gracious in any way about the possible trip this time. He'd bugged us and melted down over it a lot this weekend. I was ready to throw down the "never again" parental gauntlet in the name of saving my son from his ungratefulness problem.
Then my husband looked at me, asked if we could talk about it, and it hit me.
Grace and mercy.
This is a time to exercise grace and mercy for our child. We need to understand that he doesn't understand. All he knows is that this is his favorite thing, and we only do it with Grammy and Grampy. So we took the kids to the people train, to ride to downtown, get some ice cream, and ride back. It was a lovely day, and the kids had a great time with Grammy and Grampy. Ryan stimmed hard on the passing trees and buildings, searching all up and down the red line for every elevator, clinging to each one with his gaze until the train's speed ripped the picture from his line of sight. Richie enjoyed watching the other trains pass, and spotting birds along the track. Maelynn, in her stroller, enjoyed charming the other passengers in between snapping the rigid dress back onto her plastic Minnie Mouse doll.
The kid has to live sometime. Life can't all be hard-earned. Yes, there are consequences for our actions, and yes, I will continue to help Ryan, Richie, and Maelynn learn that lesson. But much, much more I want them to learn to be graceful and merciful, loving and kind people. Don't we receive completely undeserved blessings from our Heavenly Father every day? We have received so much, and all of it... every breath, every heartbeat... has been ransomed from death.
Even before time began, God knew we couldn't follow the rules. We couldn't be perfect. So He sent His only Son, who descended into hell, making himself the sacrifice for our inability to be good. He was buried, devastating his followers, until he rose on the third day, bringing the greatest hope ever known to all who believe.
This is the Christ we serve. We serve someone who loves us enough to experience staggering amounts of brutality and separation from the Father so that we might know Him and be accepted by him. We serve a man who served others, lived a perfect life, died a horrible and clearly unfair death, experienced death and separation apart from God, and rose again, beating the pants off death and hell!!!
With all that in mind, I'm pretty sure he'd have been cool with extending mercy and grace to a kid with autism who doesn't really understand this whole social graces thing in the first place.
And honestly, I love my kids... and I love seeing them happy, even for a moment of fleeting joy as the elevator passes.
So have a blessed, meaningful Easter, and remember... HE IS RISEN!!!