Wyatt the Brave

Wyatt, our oldest son, turned 7 today – and he’s lived every bit of his 7 years, then some. Recently at All Souls, we passed out those little 12 inch wooden manikins, the ones that have joints and can be manipulated any number of ways. The project was simple, for each of us to paint or construct or do whatever with our manikin to represent our sense of what God is doing in us, redeeming in us, calling out of us. This was to be a reflection of our hope, which is to say – this was another way of praying.

As Wyatt worked on his, two of the words he said his manikin represented were “brave” and “strong-hearted.” Well, people, let me tell you – there we have a prayer where the answer is already in the works. I see it in him. I live it with him. He’s on his way.

One of my favorite stories with Wyatt this past year was from his first semester in first grade. Apparently the discipline system works like this: each student has a paper balloon beside their name; and each time they get in trouble, they have to move their balloon. With each balloon move, the consequences escalate. Much too far into the year, Wyatt informed me that he had yet to move his balloon, not once. That would never do. As one (me) who has often been far too concerned with making mistakes, I hope for Wyatt to be more free with chaos, more okay with not meeting up to every expectation laid upon him. So, I made a deal with Wyatt.

Wyatt, I’ll pay you a dollar the first time you have to move your balloon.

It didn’t take but a day or two – and Wyatt came home with the news that, sure enough, he’d been reprimanded at school and (shudder) had to move his balloon – and that I needed to hand over a green one.

I did, gladly.

Happy birthday, son. Let’s be brave together.

9 responses to Wyatt the Brave

  1. Happy Birthday, Sir Wyatt, the Brave!

    Winn, Andrew liked the deal you made with Wyatt and thinks we should be cool parents like you.

  2. ellenharoutunian May 27, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    You’re an awesome dad!

  3. That is hysterical…and appropriate. I got off a little cheaper. I just e-mailed Silas’s teachers last year and asked them to make sure he didn’t get paid one day (they get a dime every day they don’t pull a card). They were happy to oblige…also worked out the same deal with Luke’s teachers this year. Don’t tell my boys about the $ – they will be wondering where their dough is! happy birthday, Wyatt!!! We cannot wait to visit and have some exciting adventures!

  4. I wonder what I would be like if I had been encouraged to break a few rules once in awhile as a kid.

  5. I love Wyatt’s heart and the words he used. It really is a living prayer. And I LOVE that story about breaking the rules. Courageous moves for both parties. Happy Birthday Wyatt!

  6. Let me see if I understand this correctly… You pay your son to be disobedient, but call it "free with chaos"… Proverbs (as in the Bible, our final authority… we need to remember this) says woe to him who calls evil good.

  7. Anonymous, when you post critical comments, you really ought to attach your name. Drive by shootings are not okay on my blog.

    Yes, I encouraged my son to not live in fear by letting him know that there are worse things in the world than having to always get every jot and tittle exactly correct, like cowering in fear that he might whisper a word @ the lunch table and get his balloon moved. This was a moment of discernment for me and my son. And I think Jesus smiled.

  8. Dear Mr. Collier, Sorry I posted as Anonymous, but I tried putting my name, Sherri Goedker, in but it required a URL and unfortunately I have no idea what that is (don't have much time on computers…) so it wouldn't post my name. I still disagree that encouraging our children to decide for themselves which rules are worthy of breaking and which ones they should keep is dangerous (sorry, I thought they only outlawed whispering during lunch in Oliver Twist;)). When an officer pulls him over because he decided that he thought 30mph in a residential zone was dumb and that 50mph suited him better, what will he say… "Where's my dollar?"

  9. Thank you for telling us who you are, Sherri, I appreciate it – makes the conversation seem more genuine.

    I hear where you are coming from, but I think that everything about parenting is dangerous – there are few one-size-fits-all answers. For Wyatt, if disobedience were his issue, I wouldn't have done this with him. However, Wyatt's "evil" is not disobedience but rather perfectionism and fear (which actually is another form of disobedience to God, which is kind of my point). And I didn't (haven't) left it up to him to decide what rules to break – this was a one time moment I instigated (not him) in order to shepherd his heart toward a deeper and truer obedience. And it wouldn't fit for everyone -I can't imagine needing to do this with our younger son.

    In the months that have followed, I haven't seen him flaunting authority, so my suspicion is that we are on a decent track, and I don't believe he will have a problem with obeying the law. But we shall see.

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.