Friday, July 18, 2014

I Like Your Parenting (Or Life in a Fishbowl)

As I squatted on the floor by a Verizon charging station (praise God for airport charging stations!) rifling through Knox's carry-on for his DVD player's power cord, I was vaguely aware of the Asian guy seated nearby.  He must have been listening to the entire exchange I had with my seven year old, but I was far too focused on the task at hand to notice.

Knox is what we call in our family a Bad Looker.  He can't find anything.  Ever.  The day before we left to come on this trip, he had "lost" the case for his Nook Simple Touch ereader.  He spent 30 minutes looking for it, going from room to room, checking both cars, and finally ending up in his room morosely sitting on the floor by his bed.  When I came in to ask how his search was going, he said, "I've looked everywhere.  It's just gone forever, I guess."  The cover was 6 inches from his head.  On his bed.  In plain sight from the doorway where I stood.  Bless his heart.

Thus I decided to make use of our airport time and seize a teachable moment.  "Knox," I said authoritatively, "when you want to find something in your carry-on, you have to take out other things first."  I started by removing the gallon Ziploc of Star Wars action figures and placing it on the floor beside us.  "Then it's easier to see what's left ....  like your sticker books here."  I looked up at him, expecting him to be nodding intently at my sage advice.  Instead he was digging through the bag of action figures, ignoring me.

"Mom, look!  This guy is fighting this guy!  Who do you think will win?"

"I don't know, Knox," I replied in exasperation.  (I've learned from experience that I am incapable of predicting the winner of the Knox Boyd Action Figure Showdown.). I returned to exploring his bag while he prattled on about the advanced weaponry of action figure A versus the superior strategy of action figure B.  Occasionally I muttered something in response to give him the appearance that I was listening.

When I finally found his cord, I said, "Okay, why don't you choose a sticker book to do - Iron Man or Spider-Man?"  What followed was an exegesis on the pros and cons of each hero and his respective book.  His reasoning, I'm sure, made a lot of sense to him.  

I finally said, "That's all rockin' awesome, but could you just pick a book?"  Once he settled on Spider-Man, I turned to plug the DVD cord into the charging station, assuming that he would put the rest of his sprawled belongings back into his bag.

Silly me.  He instead grabbed his sticker book and headed straight for the nearest seat to get started, leaving a pile of action figures, books, and stuffed animals on the airport floor in his wake.

"Dude!  Seriously?  You're just going to leave your stuff here for me to deal with? No way.  Get back over here!" I said in exasperation.

"Oh!  I didn't notice," he replied, genuinely clueless about his mess.

As Knox cleaned up, the Asian guy smiled at me and said, "I like your parenting style!"  I laughed and thanked him as he got up, grabbed his shopping bags from designer shops, and walked away.

It was a great reminder of one of the things we learn in our Let's Start Talking mission project training - while you are on a project, you are living in a fishbowl.  People are watching you when you least realize it.  And they make judgments about all Americans (and all Christians, for that matter) based on what they see in us.

I hope that, at least this one time, the judgment made by a foreigner as a result of my behavior was a positive one!

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