I am a teacher at heart.
I love to transmit information, ideas, skills.
I like to think deeply, like to communicate deep thoughts.
Which is why I was nervous when I was asked to teach Sunday School to second graders a few years back.
I love to teach, not to do worksheets with kids. I like deep doctrine, hearty theology, difficult passages. How could I do that with second graders? (I learned, somewhat)
This is why I was nervous when I was placed in a 3-year-old classroom this year.
I love to teach, not to babysit. How could I do that with 3-year-olds? (I’m learning)
It’s also why I’m kinda tentative with my own daughter.
Everyone tells new parents that it’s hard to mess up parenting a baby. You change them, you feed them, you love them.
But I love to TEACH. How can I teach my baby?
Mostly, I think of how I’ll teach her one day when I actually can.
And then I started noticing Tirzah Mae going over to the pile of books, pulling one out and babbling to herself as she leafed through the pages. She likes when I read the board books to her – but she prefers books with regular pages when she’s reading to herself. After all, that’s what her mama reads to HERSELF.
And then I started noticing Tirzah Mae grabbing a pen (my Zebra pens!) and holding them ever so carefully between thumb and forefinger, running the point along whatever surface is handy.
And then I started noticing Tirzah Mae perking up whenever music came on, waving her hands and singing along.
And I realized that now may not be the time for teaching Tirzah Mae to read or write or sing. It may not be the time for imparting information or attaining to skills. But it is the time for forming affections.
When I spend every spare moment (when my hands aren’t otherwise occupied) with my nose in a book, I teach Tirzah Mae that books are valuable and worth reading. When I spend my mornings writing as I do Bible study and as I jot down a note on what I’m reading or make a grocery list, I teach Tirzah Mae that writing is a valuable skill and worth learning. When I sing a song, turn on a CD, dance to music (in my own home and elsewhere), I teach Tirzah Mae that music is valuable and to be enjoyed.
She likely doesn’t understand the Bible stories I read to her every night before bed. She probably doesn’t get the deep theological truths in the hymns we sing as she falls asleep. She doesn’t know what the words in the Bible I read every morning mean.
But now is the time for forming affections. So even if I’m not lecturing, not explaining some truth. Even if she’s not internalizing the Bible passages or their meanings, she’s learning. She’s learning that the word of God is precious. That the truths found in hymns are beautiful. That they are important.
I don’t see outward signs yet, like I do with reading and writing and music; but I can continue modeling Christian discipline for my daughter and can do it with ever-renewed vigor when I am reminded that now is the time for forming affections.