Kids Are Big BusinessBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Three men were striding down the sidewalk, pinstripe shirts, stiff collars, red ties, solid leather shoes. I crossed the street, pushing a stroller, and grasping my three-year-old firmly by the hand. The men saw me coming, rolled their eyes at each other, and increased their pace.
I bit the edge of my lip. I was hopelessly lost. There was no one else in sight. So I caught up with the men and asked for directions. They answered in clipped speech, looking down at my kids and back up at me without smiling. Then they walked away before I could finish saying thank you.
These are the kinds of experiences that have always made me feel like what I do day in and day out is not so impressive. "I’m just a parent," I think. Then I daydream about getting a “real” job with “real” clothes and “real” pay. In my worst moments, this desire urges me to neglect my kids in lieu of more supposedly intellectual, productive pursuits.
Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, says he hopes we might “discover that the family, so seemingly insignificant in an age of technology and celebrity, is still the heart of culture, the primary place where most of us are called to cultivate and create.” (Creating, including the creation of human life, gets top billing, since Genesis puts it right up front and reminds us that it was the very work of God in the beginning.) Crouch’s assertion is a pretty intellectual statement about the nature of what I have done and continue to do—holding hands with children while crossing the street; tucking little ones into bed at night with a kiss and a prayer; making beautiful, healthy food; sharing the intimacies of my life with people who don’t yet wear business clothes.
It has been years since that experience on the sidewalk. My children are growing, beginning to express themselves in writing, scientific explorations, philosophical musings, and the complicated dance of social life. Of course I’m biased, but they truly amaze me. I can almost see them sitting at a conference table somewhere, convincing the CEO that, yes, this particular plan will be best for the company and the world at large. Or, I can picture them pushing a stroller down the street.
I was lost on that sunny day when those men walked away briskly. I remember swallowing hard and thinking, “You know, you were children once too. What if no one had stopped their day to deal kindly and attentively with you?” The mere thought brings Crouch’s words home. Parents are in the heart of culture making. Through daily nurture and the modeling of God’s creativity and compassion, we influence the way our kids will someday negotiate a deal, walk downtown with children, or help someone who’s lost her way.
So kids are big business after all. By working intimately and lovingly with them, we help shape dust into souls, much as God did in the beginning.