By Rev Mark Niblock
I have an eight week old baby who is badly troubled by wind. It causes him severe discomfort, and at times makes his otherwise happy little life quite miserable. When he does manage to make an expulsion, in whatever direction, we are delighted for him. We celebrate, congratulating him for his achievement.
I also have a four year old. He too is troubled by wind, although it’s more on the level of hobby than chronic problem. He takes great delight in the auditory and olfactory qualities of his efforts, sharing them proudly with company. So we tend to be less enthusiastic with him. We look stern, ask him to excuse himself and discourage any retrospective in-depth analysis.
It’s funny how inconsistent we grown up’s are. Of course, we all acknowledge that different behaviours are appropriate for different ages and stages. But perhaps we overlook too easily the possibility that, at least in this case, parental enthusiasm at a very young age may fuel the desire to excel in later childhood. Maybe we condition our babies to think it is something to aspire for excellence in. It must be confusing to find that parents grow less impressed with the progression of skill, and even downright unsupportive in its ongoing pursuit.
There are reasons why I’m sharing this. First, it’s a small way of getting back at them both for the sleepless nights, vomit down the back of the shirt, and other delights of parenting small babies and children! But, second, it’s our differing reactions that’s the point: we applaud one, we chastise the other, for doing the same thing!
Maybe there’s a bigger lesson there for us. What about the things we tolerate in ourselves but don’t in others? The things we tolerate in others but don’t in ourselves? The things we overlooked yesterday that really get to us today? The different rules we apply to different people?
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever (Hebrews 13:8). ‘Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away’ (John 6:37). Isn’t it a good job he’s a bit more consistent?!