It was one of those moments when you grasp an entire scene in the blink of an eye.
Saturday morning. I was brushing my teeth in our bathroom. I could hear Kristi and the boys talking and playing at the other end of the house through the baby monitor that we still use for our now two year-old son. (Just when do you actually retire those things?)
I wasn't quite ready to emerge from the bathroom, when my morning routine was interrupted abruptly.
It was a sound I recognized right away. A great sound during a test run, but not a sound you want to hear unexpectedly. There was no mistaking it; the burglar alarm had been tripped.
My mental rolodex of possible explanations spun at light speed:
*No beep preceding alarm; that means back door. (Hadn't disarmed the system yet.)
*A burglar breaking in after daylight, with people obviously home? Not likely.
*I knew I hadn't opened the door. And Kristi wouldn't have without disarming the alarm. Only two suspects left.
*The top lock, the one out of reach of the kids, had to have been left unlocked for either of the boys to be able to open the door.
I sprinted from the bathroom to the living room. No burglar. Back door closed again. Benjamin running back down the hall to his bedroom. I hollered to Kristi that Benjamin had opened the back door, ran to the keypad, and punched in our code. Alarm stopped. Back to the bathroom to get the cell phone off the charger and await the call from the alarm company. Call came, password given, police averted, all was well again.
Now that everyone was back where they started and the dust had settled, the voices once again came through the baby monitor:
Kristi: "Benjamin, did you open the back door?"
Benjamin: "No. Daddy did."
Oh, yes, he said it. Our firstborn. That little baby we held in our arms. Benjamin Bunny. Little Bennigan's.
Our boy had looked Mom square in the face and told her a bald-faced lie. There was nothing subtle about it. He saw that Door #1 might have led to some type of reprimand, and instead chose Door #2, not grasping that the truth was already known, and that even if it had not been, Mom would have checked with Dad anyway. And that, even if she hadn't, lying is still the wrong thing to do.
Man, it didn't take long to get here. Our four year-old has taken his first step into that risky mine field of deceit. It's a tempting place to walk. The shortcuts and payoffs often seem great in comparison to the danger. The chance of harming oneself or a loved one seems ever so remote. It all seems so easy to control. And sometimes it is. That's what's so scary about it.
All of us who have walked that field know that eventually you take the wrong step and lose something more precious than an arm or a leg.
The trust of those who trusted you is hard to win back. And like the prosthetic limbs of an amputee, it's just not what it used to be. It can't ever be like it was.
Don't get me wrong; I don't distrust my son. He's only four. I did the same thing. Really, it probably wasn't the first time, and I am confident it won't be the last. But this time, it hit me that a threshold has been crossed in his life and ours. He is starting to see his options as being wider than simply doing what Mom & Dad would like for him to do.
That's a threshold we all cross at some point. We cross it at home, and we later cross it with God.
Father, please help us:
*To see our children as You see them.
*To accept that our children will go where we've warned them not to go.
*Not to overlook it when they do, but not to overreact in anger when they do.
*To make sure our children learn to accept the consequences of their mistakes.
*To trust our children as they grow up, and to allow them to learn how to earn the trust of others.
*To remember that deceit is tempting, and that our children need us to be watchful for it in their lives.
*Never to model deceit for our children, or be the ones to teach them how to lie.
*Not to believe the deceiver's lies, who tells some that their children do no wrong, while telling others that their children are no good.
*To be brave enough to lead our children to You, in the face of a world that would draw them away.
And as for me and Kristi, please help us to remember to lock that top lock on the back door.