Deep Dark Secrets

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Last night, after finishing up The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, it was time to pick a new read aloud book for Alex. I was a leery to jump into the remainder of the Chronicles of Narnia series as it can get a intense. So, I snagged one of my favorites, a book I always read during September as 4th Grade started, Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. It’s a lesser known book than The BFG, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Twits or The Witches. It has remained a favorite of mine, a novel I have read twelve times at least. Like Island of the Blue Dolphins, it is a book I could read over and over again, year after year, and find new parts that keep me engaged, amused and touched.

Tonight, though, a specific section really stuck out to me. This was my first reading since having children. Not sure if this passage seemed more **REAL** to me due to my “parent” status, but take a listen….Danny, the son, reflects, “You will learn as you get older, just as I learned that autumn, that no father is perfect. Grown-ups are complicated creatures, full of quirks and secrets. Some have quirkier quirks and deeper secrets than others, but all of them, including one’s own parents, have two or three private habits hidden up their sleeves that would probably make you gasp if you knew about them.” {The basic plot of the story is that Danny’s dad has a shocking secret—he poaches pheasants in the middle of the night. The book chronicles Danny’s adventures with his father as he learns the secret art of poaching pheasants himself.}

I laughed in the midst of reading this tonight….”grown-ups are complicated creatures.” Grown-ups are “full of quirks and secrets”. Ah, yes, Danny. We, “grown-ups” ARE complicated and full of deep secrets and private habits. Can’t say my secrets and habits are centered around the art of poaching pheasants, but secrets and habits I DO have, indeed.

Don’t we all? Aren’t there pieces we hold close, afraid to let the truth get out? Would that truth scare our kids? Our spouses? Our friends? Our family? Would those habits lead our children to wonder at our qualifications to be “in charge”? Would our friends shudder at our “quirkier quirks”?

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I am realizing more and more, that the answers to these questions are truly found in the mystery of relationships. Danny has a grounded, proven trust with his father. As his Dad begins to unload the secret of his poaching habits, Danny doesn’t run away or burrow under the covers in his bunk bed. Instead he drinks his hot cocoa, chews his cheese sandwich and listens to his father share the hidden details of his addiction to and passion for….pheasants.

As a parent, there is a tenuous balance of truth-telling and holding back our truest selves with our kids. I want to create an authentic relationship, but realize that certain truths just aren’t to be shared with my son. There is a freedom in sharing these quirks, secrets and habits—no doubt everyone has had moments of letting down their guard, sweating bullets as something hidden was brought to light. For me, I have felt the weight lift, the weight of holding in the truth, when I finally let it go to a friend. In the same way, when another has confessed truths, our friendship and connection has deepened as I feel the gift of their trust.

I see moments when my oldest holds back truth. Sometimes it seems like his deep, dark secrets are too much for him to even voice out loud, too much for him to hear with his own ears. He often questions our love in moments of anger or frustration, and it is our reminder that assuring him of our love needs to be consistent, constant and purposeful.

I listen to the questions, fears and concerns of many friends with kids entering their teenage years. They share sadness over lost or tension-filled time together or conversations that seemed so stymied or forced. That time of middle and high school seems light years away some days—right now, October 1st, the day kindergarten goes full day seems like a carrot out “there” that will never be reached! But, I know that time isn’t as far as I think it is. Rather than standing in a place of fear, shutting down about my quirks, secrets and habits, I hope to learn, situation by situation, how to unfold my truest self in the right way, in the right time, to the right depth, in the right setting. Mostly, clinging to the Grace extended to us. Grace that loves deeply and completely, in Christ, no matter what secrets are revealed. Grace that envelops the quirkiest of quirks and oddest secrets or habits.

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2 thoughts on “Deep Dark Secrets

  1. Christine,
    You need to know that you were one of the treasured young adults who could hear the secrets of my children when they were teenagers. You and Matt were both such gifts to them. Yes. Our children do hold things back and there needs to be a place where they can share what and when they need to share. You were such a place for my darling kiddoes. I am so grateful to you both for the gift you have been to Molly and Jay! P.

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