Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Second Shift

Paul and I are noticing a subtle shift that's happening in our relationship with our kids.

I first noticed it last year when Brenda took me out to dinner to celebrate getting her income tax refund. It was a chilly day--and as we were leaving the restaurant she said, "You stay here Mom--I'll go and get the car." I let the feeling register--"I think I am being 'looked after,' " I said to myself. I surrendered gracefully and a little gratefully, but as I waited obediently in the doorway I wondered, "Is this it? Am I getting old?" Normally I would be striding purposefully across the parking lot trailing my daughter in my wake!

This afternoon Paul and I came home from lunch at Tim Horton’s to find our son Peter here with Katherine, Stephen and Joshua. Tiffany-Amber and Victoria came upstairs to play and I surrendered to three hours that included Black Beauty (we wiped away tears together), another wild game of Sorry, throwing balls and much wiping of one very runny nose.

During this time, Peter was working on Paul's computer. Paul said, "I don't know all the stuff he did. He just took off a bunch of old programs I didn't need and disconnected a drive I didn't need. I'd asked him to fix it so I could burn photos and DVDs."

Just as Peter was finished and getting ready to leave, Jay, our son-in-law popped upstairs. Paul had just bought a new VCR/DVD player. This combination of events is like the aligning of the planets. Jay is guaranteed to be sucked into our technological black hole.

Peter laughed as he gathered up his kids and said, "It's like Jay's the apartment superintendent." Now what did he mean by that? And then he said, "He's the second shift."

Is this it? Is this how it happens? Suddenly your kids are looking after you? Suddenly I feel "needy!" I'm writing this with laughter--the "second shift" indeed! I hope he was kidding...
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Susan said...

Ah, Belinda, I too have noticed this "subtle change", the Second Shift. I love it... I haven't attributed it to "growing old" per se, but more of reaching a certain place in the journey. One of God's best surprises.

For so many years we were the givers, the investors in the lives we had co-operated with God to bring into this world... We gave and gave and gave.

And now we are getting a return on our investment. One we never counted on or even expected. Not in the least. This "subtle change" we're perceiving is their subtle way of "rising up and calling us blessed". Calling us blessed for the years we went with only 2 pairs of jeans and three shirts in our entire wardrobe so they could look nice going to school. For the times we insisted, "no, really, I like the dark meat best" so our kids could have the white. For the days when we were late for work so they could arrive at school on time (after they had stayed up the night before not heeding our warnings of "you'll never be able to get up on time for school tomorrow".

We're being honoured. The same way we have honoured our own parents. And in the same way we wanted our parents to receive the honour that's due them, we humbly accept our children's efforts -- knowing that we don't altogether deserve it (oh, the mistakes I made!) and yet at the time feeling a quiet and pervasive joy to see this evidence that they are turning out so well.

It's wonderful, isn't it? This cycle of life. This incredible journey that we're on.

God is good.

Dave Hingsburger said...

I'm convinced that we do not get older, but that they do. I'm thrilled to have younger people in my life who are willing to do the things that I can no longer figure out. Yesterday I tried to download a new game for my computer and failed miserably. Then I realized that Mike and family were coming up today and I could get him to do it. That's why God made young people - so that old dogs could occasionally just refuse to learn new tricks.

Johnny Cash said...

Hi Belinda,
So true! Often my parents ask me something and I'm usually pretty able to give them an answer. It's not that they don't know how to use Google, they just often like to e-mail me with a question. I guess I'm the IT guy of the household even though I'm not living at home anymore. Actually, I enjoy the challenge. And I love to help my folks out too.