I don’t ask much of my children. In terms of entrusting them with responsibility and expecting compliance, I’m erring on the side of non-existent. Not because I have aggressive goals of my children leading their generation in underachievement. I just lack capacity right now. I have a toddler, people.
But once in a while, I get the bright idea that it’s time to start pushing them a bit. Mainly so our space doesn’t become more strewn inside-out socks than it is house. I start with asking the 4 year old to carry in his Subway bag. We had a parent conference at his school, so naturally we had more time to stop in and buy a ‘wich than to plan ahead and pack him “home food.” Said bag was not heavy. It had 33% of a kid size sub, an empty milk and a watch (which fast food chains now consider a toy).
All he can manage is “I have too much stuff to carry!!” as he picks up a giant neon playground ball from the entryway and adds it to his arms, overflowing with…um…nothing. If he was to even care if anyone else had too much stuff to carry, he would have noticed I was carrying my bag (full of books and papers from a meeting I had before the Subway run, preschool pickup and parent conference), the diaper bag, school papers, other random car trash, keys, a lunch box (for the child we love the most/least, based solely on our lunch packing priorities…you be the judge), and the “tall for her age” toddler – did you know kids feel 10 lbs heavier when they are late for their nap?
He adds a few more sundry items to his arms to really sell his story and moans and groans his way up the stairs. Meanwhile, I toss out empty threats and silently pray I don’t drop anything – especially the toddler.
“Drop the ball. It’s okay, just drop the ball. Pick up this bag of your lunch and your trash while I carry up your sister. If you need to, drop the ball.”
Generally that phrase is reserved for things you should’t drop.
“Don’t drop the ball on this one.”
“I really dropped the ball there.”
That funny little phrase caused me to stop and think. Of all the things we are carrying, is the ball the one we really want to spare? Is the ball really worth not carrying the stuff we are meant to carry, responsible to carry, called to carry?
What’s my half-eaten 6 inch and my pre-disposed trash today? What do I need for sustenance and what am I responsible for?
And what’s my neon playground ball today? I wonder what I’m carrying up the stairs that could wait by the door. I wonder if there is something that would free me up to release if someone said “it’s okay, just drop the ball.” I wonder if I have my arms wrapped around something that seems absolutely crucial to what I have planned, but is actually getting in the way of what God has planned for me.
Most days, I’m caught in a list of to-dos a mile long, high and wide. When they get in the way of what God has actually made me responsible for and what He is trying to give me as fuel, they are just a neon playground ball, excusing myself right out of his portion and purpose for me.
I don’t enjoy dropping the ball. But often times, dropping the ball, allows me to grow up a little and feed myself what I need.