"Are they yours?" the young woman pushing a double stroller occupied by a baby and a toddler motioned toward Bug and Boo as she joined us at the park.

"And so it begins," I thought. "She thinks I'm the grandma." It is possible. I just always hope it's not people's first impression!

"Yes, they're mine. The big one just turned six and the little one is three."

As the conversation continued I realized that she's not the mom of the little girls she was tending--she's the nanny; maybe that's what she was had in mind (and not that I look too old to have such little guys!).

I suppose I shouldn't have been any more surprised that she wasn't sure if the boys were mine than I was to find that the girls weren't hers. I forget sometimes that when we go to that park in the middle of a workday there's a better than 50 percent chance that the other kids are being tended by a nanny or a granny or someone other than a mom or dad.

Usually, if you watch for a little while, it's kind of obvious when the grown-up and child don't 'belong' to each other. Cultural and language differences are a giveaway, but most often there's a difference in interaction that makes it clear. There's a degree of detachment and sometimes indifference--on both sides--that shows when there's a surrogate or substitute involved

I hope that if someone watches long enough, they'll know from the nature of our relationship that I am Bug and Boo's mom and not a hired caregiver. I hope first impressions prove I'm engaged and attentive, interested and involved, committed and caring. And I hope that their responses and interactions with me show that they're confident and secure and happy in their relationship with me as well. I want people to know we 'belong' to each other.

I wonder sometimes if it's clear whose child I am. Whether it's a casual encounter at the park, or a long-standing friendship, is my relationship with my Heavenly Father evident? On first meeting, would a new acquaintance know?

When I was in high school I befriended a new student. As we walked homItalice one afternoon, talking of typical high school topics, he said, "You're a Christian, aren't you?" It was much more a statement than a query.

He caught me really off-guard because I never was very outspoken and knew it wasn't our conversation itself that would have led him to that conclusion. When I asked what made him think so, he responded with something like "You're just different." At that age, being "different" is usually the last thing a shy, insecure girl would want to be, but somehow that was not at all insulting.

I'm still not especially outspoken (most of the time), but I do hope that wherever I am or whatever I might be doing, that a casual observer would know who I 'belong' to.



Melinda said...

I've never really thought about it before, but there IS an obvious difference in the way children interact with a caregiver vs. a parent. What a great picture of our visible relationship with Christ!

Hugs to you this day,

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

When I was doing my student teaching, I had a first grade girl come up to me one morning and said, "I need to tell you something. Last night, I asked Jesus into my heart and I knew you would understand." I've never forgotten that; I pray my that my life always reflects the light and truth of Jesus. I know it doesn't, but with 4 kids always watching (even the almost 20 year old), I am ever mindful of the need to walk what I am so willing to talk.

Great thoughts.


Joyful said...

My parents attended a teacher/parent interview when I was in High School. After the introductions, the teacher was talking to my Mom and Dad about both my sister and I and he said, 'I don't know what it is, but your daughters are such...(he paused here looking for a word)...refined girls.' Although he couldn't quite express it, he saw a difference. He was not a believer and couldn't identify with the Spirit within us, but knew there was something that had us standing apart.

Your post here reminded me of one I wrote a long time ago. You might like to check it out:

May it be obvious to others who I belong to today,

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