While at the track this past summer I came across a young couple with their son. The couple looked to be in their early 30's and the boy around 4. They were dressed for a workout and the boy had his little bike to ride on the track while they jogged. They found a spot, off the side of the track, to put down their keys and water bottles and immediately began stretching. After a few minutes, they began their workout. The father was sprinting while the mother was walking very briskly. Within no time, the boy was far behind and not at all happy. With every turn of his little pedals he screamed, hollered, moaned, and began crying.
Being there to enjoy some of my own quiet time away from my three teenage boys, I began formulating plans. I needed this quiet time as much as I needed the exercise and figured I could offer a few suggestions to the young parents if it became clear that there would be no satisfying both the kid and the parents' goal of a workout. Something had to give. And then something did. The mom stopped, waited for her young son to catch up, and then reduced her brisk walk to a snail's pace. Her son was easily able to keep up with her. Granted it wasn't much of a workout, but the boy stopped crying. In no time I was able to pass her and had to chuckle at the conversation. The boy was telling his mother about Sponge Bob Square Pants and the mom was listening as if she cared about every detail about Bikini Bottom (that's where Spone Bob lives for those unaware!). This went on for at least 6 laps while the dad continued his jogging. He would tousle the kid's hair every time he went by and the kid would squeal with delight. By now I had put in my own 8 laps and was ready to call it a day. I gathered my keys and water bottle and headed off the track. As I pulled away I was able to see the mom had resumed her brisk walk while the dad played with his son off on the grass.
It was very clear to me how this incident embodied our life as parents. Like that young couple, we arrive, ready and prepared for what we think we will be doing and how things will go. Within a fairly quick time most of us see how very wrong we were in our expectations. Some of us will be able, like these parents, to change our game plan and make the most of what is before us. Others of us will get frustrated with the change in our agenda and struggle to make things work as we feel they should. If these parents had not been willing to change how their exercise plan was evolving, both theirs and their son's morning would have been ruined. All would have had a terrible time. Instead, they willingly changed for their child without giving up their overall objective!
Our overall objective is to train our children in their faith and to raise wonderful young men and women of Christ. Whether we are on Plan "C" or Plan "D," like those parents at the track, we must not lose sight of that goal, even if we have had to change our game plan along with the way.