We went to the waterpark today for day camp. I was sitting in the shade to keep from melting while I watched my group of girls circle around the Lazy River. One of the boys from another group was meandering around close to our area so I invited him to come sit with me. I know we're not supposed to have favorites, but he's one of the sweetest, most endearing little boys at our camp. Being a good teacher, I never let on of course. ;) Earlier that day I had discovered said boy in the lazy river with a group of girls and a couple boys about 18 years old or so. Why a nine-year-old was hanging with such a crew that he apparently didn't know, I'm not sure. I also witnessed the older kids get separated from my camper and his buddy and saw them speed swimming away with shouts of "Hurry! He's still there!" Obviously, these individuals needed some space from my random tag-along.
As my little friend sat down with me and we chatted about his day, he asked if I wanted to know how he came to meet these new, older friends. I asked for enlightenment since I was confused about the nature of such a meeting. He said he and his buddy were walking by and the girls from the group called out, "Hey cutie!" He and his buddy had a quick conversation, "She was talking to me!" "No, she was talking to me!" "Well I don't want to go talk to her." "Alright fine, I will." So my nine-year-old friend went up to them and said, "Hello ladies!"
Oh my goodness. I told him, "You would say something like that to random girls you don't know." So apparently they all hung out for a while until he told them it wouldn't work out anyway because he already had a girlfriend.
"WHAT?!?!?! You have a girlfriend?? How can you have a girlfriend? You're nine! You can't even take her on a date because you don't drive! You are waaaaay too young for this."
He explained to me that they still went on dates. At school. On the playground. Oh my. He described this little nook between a couple slides on the playground that they go to during recess. He said, "There was this one time that we were sitting there and all of a sudden she grabbed me, and kissed me." "What?!" "Yeah, she just couldn't take it anymore so she kissed me, and I was like, 'whoa.' But then we decided we weren't going to do that anymore. Except there was this one time that I just couldn't take it anymore, so I kissed her. But that was it."
Oh my goodness, I just received an earful more than I ever wanted to from a nine-year-old. This is a kid who knows his Bible. He just came back from a missions trip to Romania. One thing I like about him is that he's a pretty good listener. You can have a serious conversation with him and he seems to be able to take it in pretty well. It was a teachable moment. So I asked him, "What are the fruits of the spirit?" "What?" "You know, from Galations 5:22. Do you know what the fruits of the spirit are?" "Not all of them." "Tell me which ones you know." "I know there's faith, joy, love, and self-control." "Mhm, what does that last one mean? Self-control, what is that?" "I don't know. I just know some of the fruits of the spirit, but I don't know what they mean." "Well, self-control is when you have a choice to do something or not do something, and you decide to make the choice not to do it because it's something you shouldn't be doing. That's called having self-control." "Oh, that's hard to do." "It is hard to do, but it's not impossible to do. We're Christians, so God has given us these fruits of the spirit. We have them already, but He gives us a choice of whether or not we're going to use them." We both pondered that for a minute. Then I said, "You want to know something about me? I'm twenty-three years old, and I've never kissed anyone." Now it was his turn to look at me in surprise. "Really?" "Yeah, you know why I haven't?" "Why?" "Because I want to make sure that the guy I'm kissing is going to be my husband someday. I don't want to waste my time kissing just anybody. And so even though it's been really hard sometimes, I've made the choice to have self-control and not kiss anyone." "Wow!" "Don't waste your time trying to grow up too fast and do grown up things. There will be time for that later. You shouldn't have to rush being a kid, because that's a really great gift to have, and you'll wish you had that chance again someday. You should enjoy it."
The teaching moment was over, and he seemed to take to heart what I was saying. Whether or not he'll act on it is yet to be seen, but at least I had the opportunity to share a different way of life to him--one that God has put close to my own heart that not many seem to care about anymore.
And though prior to today, I didn't think I'd ever be telling a nine-year-old about my personal boundary for kissing, I think it's important that kids should be made aware that the way of Hollywood is not the only way, even though pretty much every kid movie you can think of that uses real actors and actresses involves kissing. (Ramona and Beezus, Freaky Friday, Monte Carlo, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 all just popped into my head. Yep, my generalization is proving true.) So of course a nine-year-old would have a girlfriend. Of course he would kiss her because he "couldn't stand it." Of course, he'd be shocked to discover that there are people who exercise self-control for years. What are we teaching our kids about boundaries in relationships? Obviously, at such a young age we wouldn't think we needed to teach it. But if we're not teaching it, then who is? The movies?
If you work around kids at all you are well aware that these teachable moments come and go in the blink of an eye. Kids will spill all. They have no filters. They can present you with something and then you have two minutes to share your story and bring in God's perspective. It's a mission field is what it is. Are you making the most of those teachable moments? These kids desperately need you to.
Galations 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."