My oldest son recently went to an interview at our church. Our church requires an interview with all children before they can receive their first communion. This was something we expected. The was something we prepared for.
So on the day of the interview, we sit in the large, old Nativity of the Lord school office.
I'm tired and a little frantic from running late that morning. My son just looks nervous. I look around the room. I see old books. Beautiful wooden crosses are on the wall. The room reminds me of the old school I attended as a child. And when I look at my son sitting in the chair, legs swinging, staring at his lap - I see myself 30 years earlier, sitting in a similar chair, legs swinging, staring at my lap.
I know my son can handle this interview. But I don't know how to convince him. I want to hold his hand. But at 7 years old, he pulls his hand away.
The religious education teacher walks in the room. She sits in her desk across from us. She smiles. We talk and laugh about our hectic morning. The teacher is easy to talk to and she has a calming effect on me and, thankfully, she also has a calming effect on my son. My son looks at the teacher. He smiles a little. The interview begins.
My son sails through the interview. He correctly answers every question. He even volunteers his own information. Suddenly, within a delightful 10 minutes, the nervous boy whose eyes were glued to his lap is now overflowing with confidence. (I'm proud and now want more than ever to hold his hand. But I remind myself that he probably won't let me.)
The teacher asks her last question. She holds up a statue of a shepherd. There are two sheep with the shepherd. One sheep is on the shepard's shoulder. The other sheep stands next to the shepherd. The teacher speaks.
"There is no right or wrong answer to this question. So take your time." She says to my son. My son nods. "Who would you rather be: the sheep on the shepherd's shoulder or the sheep standing next to the shepherd?"
My son stares at the statue for awhile. He looks at the teacher. He looks at the statue. Then quietly and with confidence, he answers her question.
"I want to be the guy."
With a joyous laugh, the teacher tells my son that no child had given that answer before! She also told him that the shepherd represented Jesus and that if he really wanted to be like Jesus (instead of the sheep), then he'd have to work very, very hard. My son smiled and repeated, "Yes - I still want to be the guy."
And as we left the interview, on the way out the door, I smiled with pride and grabbed my son's hand.
Here's a link to a great book - a book for all those parents who have kids who see the world a little sideways and, whether we like it or not, provide thoughts and opinions outside the box. We need to encourage this, but we also need all the help we can get! (I fear my son's teenage years.)
Kids Who Think Outside the Box: Helping Your Unique Child Thrive in a Cookie-Cutter World