It was a few months ago when I was awoken by my five-year old whispering. “Daddy, I’m hungry. I want some scrambled eggs.” To which I replied, “O.K. little man, I’ll get up and make you scrambled eggs.” Without any hesitation he responded, “No, I want to make the eggs.”
I was surprised, to say the least. However, perhaps I shouldn’t have been. He and his younger brother have been assisting me in the kitchen for years now. They know where many of our common ingredients and utensils are. They have helped me add ingredients to bowls (including cracking eggs). They have helped me mix ingredients. They have assisted by putting oil in pans and pouring mixtures in to be cooked. They have learned how to carefully stir, flip and remove foods with the use of a spatula. In retrospect, I had gradually taught them all of the parts required to prepare a few dishes on the stove top all by themselves. Now, on this otherwise quite normal morning, my five-year old woke up and thought to himself, “I know how to make scrambled eggs all by myself.” And that was exactly what he wanted to do. With just a bit of supervision and encouragement along the way.
I followed him downstairs and watched as he went to get the step stool and turn on the stove. “This one?” he asked as he reached for the knob to turn on the burner. “Yes, that one.” I responded. “What number? Here?” he asked. “Number 6. Yes, that’s good.” I answered. He proceeded to take out the eggs and a bowl. He added a little salt and water into the eggs and mixed them. He poured some olive oil in the pan and then added the eggs. He gently mixed the eggs around in the pan and flipped them over. Finally,he got out a plate, put it next to the stove and scooped the eggs onto his plate. I took a little taste of the eggs my little chef had prepared. They were good. He thought so too.
While this is not the first life skill our children have learned, this skill seems so…grown up. In fact I know many adults who could not make scrambled eggs nearly as well as my little man. Am I proud of him? Absolutely! But as I think about the fact that he has been so well schooled in this skill, I find myself asking what other abilities I am instilling. I am pretty sure that I have said this before, but I think it is worth saying again. Our children are our apprentices in life. They may not end up doing what we do for a living, but they are learning how to live through our raising of them. Through our presence and our absence, through our intentional and unintentional influence, they are being shaped into their futures. They will follow our lead or they will wander from the lack thereof.
My prayer is that just as my eldest has begun to learn the art of cookery, our children will grow in their capacity to practice their trust in God each day. If the scrambled egg incident has taught me anything it is that a great way to lead them to this goal is to invite them to observe and then participate with me as I follow Jesus. I can let them repeat after me as I pray and then ask them to offer their prayers. I can invite them along as I help others and then encourage them to do the same in their own lives. When they need to be forgiven I can share with them how much I love them and how much God loves them, and what He did for them in Christ, and then encourage them to do the same when others need forgiveness. By inviting them to observe and then join me in trusting God, I may find myself waking up one day to one of our kids saying, “Daddy, I have a problem. I don’t know how to solve it. Will you come pray with me?”