Education vs. Intimacy

It is early morning. For more than an hour I’ve been up praying, or reading scripture, or checking out ESPN.com, and now I’m sitting down at the kitchen table eating a bowl of Honeynut Cheerios with almond milk, and a handful of blueberries. The birds are now awake and tweeting like a tree full of mommy-bloggers logging on to start their day.  The hallway creaks and my 9 year old daughter pads lightly into the kitchen, rubbing her squinting eyes at the overhead lights.

“Good morning!”

“Good morning.”

“Did you sleep well?”

“Mmm hmm.”

She sidles into one of our mix-match kitchen chairs and I know she doesn’t want breakfast yet.  She’ll want to wait and wake up a bit first. That’s when the battle begins.

The house is quiet, and we sit silently together for a few minutes.  I finish my cereal, and I’ve got my daughter’s undivided attention.  She must have heard me creaking around, or she would have stayed in bed.  But I have nothing else to say.  My mind is racing around, trying to think of something simple to talk about, some wisdom to impart or some probing question to get conversation started about relationships, faith, music, family, science, culture, or something.  But after a few moments all I can come up with is…

“Do you know the plan for today?”

She shakes her head slightly from side to side. My mind is blank.  Inside, I’m determined to infuse this moment with purpose, but I’m frustrated and feeling the pressure to parent. These moments are few and precious and I don’t want to waste another one sitting silently at the table.

But what about the value of sitting silently, a pat on the head, or inviting her to sit with me as I have many times before? Until recently, I had never considered that side of the question…

Maybe this internal struggle is the proof that I have fallen into the trap of valuing education over intimacy.  Could it be that in the modern-minded zeal to cram my children’s minds with as much as I possibly can before they leave the home, that I have forgotten that all these things will fail them if they are not first grounded in relational intimacy?

Would you rather your daughter memorize the New Testament or trust you as the first place to run with her problems? Would you rather your son be a virtuoso on the violin or know that you are his fiercest defender, and that you’ll always listen, and you’ve  always got his back, no matter what.

The next time one of my kids meets me alone with the sunrise, I’m going to remember this conviction and enjoy their company, trusting that sometimes they don’t need to know what I know. Sometimes, they just need me.

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