I correct spelling and ask, "Realistic? Why?"
"They do real things."
"Yeah, like fly," says John.
"Hush. I really want to know what Claire thinks. What about the love parts, Claire? Are the love parts realistic?"
"Yeah. One saves the other and after he does the saving he gets to keep her."
And this, "Mary was about our John's age when she had Jesus? You can have babies when you are a teenager? Wow! I can't wait!" This from Faith who has her whole heart set on a house filled top to bottom with children...a mom waiting to happen. "Well," she plans, "when I'm about seventeen, I'm going to Wal-Mart to find a boy who is nice to people and if I like him, he'll be my husband and I can hurry up and be a mom."
These are the children we are entrusted with. These we must shape into suitable life partners. Whew!
We ponder... How does one go from child to spouse? We keep eyes wide open, look for opportunities to impart wisdom.
One night I cut peppers for dinner and John visits while I chop. You have to be on your toes with a fourteen year old. Carpe diem and all that.
"I don't think I'll get married, Mom."
A recurring theme these days with eldest son, so I probe, "Why do you say that?"
"Well, I just don't think that a girl will want to marry me. Once she gets to know me she'll find out things she doesn't like about me and that will be the end."
These words strike a chord. "You remind me of me, you know. My favorite line in college was, "My face will end up in the Old Maid card deck."
"You really thought that, Mom?"
"I thought everything you just said, John. I didn't want anybody to know that I wasn't perfect either. When I first started dating your Papa I was sick to my stomach for weeks because I wanted to walk away before he found out that I was a hot tempered, finicky girl."
"Really. But this thinking on my part then and on your part now is wrong. Wrong because when we think this way we leave God out of the equation. He has a plan for you. If that plan includes marriage then even right now he is raising up a girl who will be an excellent wife for you. Are you ready to be a husband and father today?"
"No! Mom, I'm just fourteen!"
"Then rest. Do not worry about this now. Pray. Pray that God will work all things for your good in time. Pray for your wife. Honey, one day if she knows that you have been praying for her since you were a kid, you will knock her socks off! Serve. You are right. You are not ready to be a husband now but you have opportunities all around you to get ready for the job. Love your family. Look for opportunities to serve, set aside your time wasting and meet the needs around you. And when the time comes, you'll be ready."
And this is where we part ways with the status quo. We are training our children to delay dating until they are ready to embrace marriage and family. Career ready, emotionally ready, maturity ready. This sets the dating time line later than the giggling, texting, driver-permit crowd. We are not naive enough to expect to navigate these waters with five children without a hiccup. We are prepared to offer counsel and grace. But for now, we keep eyes wide open and we talk freely. We are foolish enough to hope that this is the way to mold our romantic child and our cynical, reserved, and bold children into worthy men and women who marry worthy men and women .
Heaven help us.