We humans are a sneaky bunch. We hide things from other folks pretty well. We even hide things from ourselves. But it isn’t so easy to hide things from children.
Take my waistline, for example. It has, of late, been steadily expanding and annexing territory, like America fulfilling its “manifest destiny.” But recently it ran into some stiff resistance from the waistband of my pants, which was trying to “hold the line.” Something had to give. You know how it goes—a lot of saber-rattling on both sides and “these pants ain’t big enough for the two of us” kind of talk. It was a showdown and I had a choice to make. I opted for “destiny” and bought some larger clothes to accommodate the march to freedom.
Without the pesky reminder of ill-fitting clothing, I once more imagined myself as fit and trim—until recently, while playing with my 6-year-old daughter, Koryn. I approached her rocking horse, which I like to have a whirl on every now and then, and she got a worried look on her face. I thought she was concerned for my safety until she gave a sideways glance at my middle section and pleaded, “Don’t break my horse, Daddy.” I wasn’t thrilled with the implication of her concern, but at least she was gracious enough to leave it at that.
Younger kids are not so subtle. Caleb (my 4-year-old) ran into my room recently while I was sitting down and changing shirts. He stared at my stomach and exclaimed, “Dad you’ve got a baby!” I denied the charge and explained that a person looks different when he sits down after a big meal. But he was already racing down the hall squealing with laughter and shouting to his siblings, “Hey guys! Daddy has a baby!”
Vexed and offended, I rushed after him sputtering threats and recriminations. Caleb quickly clammed up, but his words had done their work. My bubble was popped. I finally saw things how they were. I had let myself go to seed and was rapidly turning into the Pillsbury Doughboy. This was difficult to admit, but it cleared the way for me to exercise better stewardship over my body.
The Scriptures remind us: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Young children can be our best friends in this way, once we get over the initial shock of their blunt honesty. And we need to be open to truth from friends lest we find our lives, like our pants, coming apart at the seams.