Tricycle Races & Other Lessons from Kids

“ON YOUR MARK. GET SET…. GO!”

Their game faces are on and they shoot down the driveway on their tricycles. Brothers like to race, especially if they’re under the age of 10. Trash-talking is inevitable.

“I’m gonna beat you, Wesley! I’m older so I’m faster! I’m gonna win!”

“Nuh-uh, Jackson! Miss Ashwyn, come push me!”

“Hey, no cheating! Miss Ashland don’t let him cheat!”

I’d like to remind you that they’re on tricycles. Pretty sure I can walk faster than either of them are peddling. But I still see beads of sweat on both of their faces as they push on towards the mailbox, towards me. I’m crouching and hiding laughter at this point. Cuteness overload can’t prevent the “base” from performing her duties: They need me to hold one hand out to determine who would win while keeping my eyes on my watch to announce their times. They’re trying to beat records, here.

Five-year-old Jackson is so close, but stops for a second – his glasses are sliding down his nose and need adjustment. He realizes his little brother isn’t directly behind him anymore.

“Hey! Where’s Wesley?” (That slight lisp. My heart.)

Then I’m laughing out loud because three-year-old Wesley has stopped halfway down the driveway and is peddling his tricycle in circles. Literally going ‘round and ‘round and ‘round…. giggling the whole time. I start walking up the driveway towards him. Wanted to make sure he hadn’t forgotten how to steer.

“Wesley. Bud. What are you doing.”

“I’m spinning!”

“But Jackson is about to win!”

“I know, but I’m SPINNING! Watch me, Miss Ashwyn!”

He’s spinning so fast that for half a second I’m convinced he’ll fling himself off the plastic contraption into the nearby bush. Wouldn’t be the first time. But he’s thoroughly enjoying himself, paying no mind to the race at all. Next thing I know, Jackson is visibly upset. His brother clearly isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing.

“Wesley, no! You’re supposed to be racing me to the mailbox! Stop spinning! You’re not supposed to be spinning and laughing right now, Wesley!”

But Wesley can’t even hear his brother over the sound of his own giggles.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Have you ever had a moment where everything seems to pause for a minute to truly get 100% of your attention? Moments that hold a lot of truth begging to be recognized. A giggling three-year-old handed me one right then.

As I stood there watching Wesley, I was suddenly really thankful for a Father who doesn’t hold a stopwatch at the end of a man-made race.

He doesn’t sit there waiting for the winner to arrive to declare him better than everyone else. His hand is outstretched, yes… Anticipating the arrival of his children, yes… but he’s not in the business of seeing who gets to the corporate finish line first. His hand is outstretched to remind us that we’re not put on this earth to race each other, so life doesn’t have to be about out-doing someone else. Or about comparing ourselves to someone else. Sure, aspects of this life are bound to include competition; there’s no way to escape it altogether. And because of that, his hand is only outstretched to guide us.

We’re here to love people. What a beautifully freeing concept.

And I’ll go out on a limb even further, here: What if we’re called to rejoice in the Lord no matter where we are, no matter what we’re doing, no matter where we fall on the I-have-my-life-together scale? Fellow unnamed graduate at the commencement ceremony might have had a career handed to her before a diploma was handed to her. She faces the exciting transition from school to work before others and the next stage of her life is secure, but does that mean everyone else is “behind”? Depends on who you’re asking. Jesus says, “Not so much. I just have different plans for her.” He’s shown me that joy and thankfulness are skills that we’re called to master because they bear patience and peace.

This season of life has given me plenty of practice…

Be thankful for your home, Ashland.

Be thankful for your community, Ashland.

Be thankful for your passions, for your education, for your experience, Ashland.

Be thankful that I don’t compare resumes, Ashland.

Be thankful that I am enough. And I am faithful.

Yep. Speaking as someone who’s hellbent on planning every aspect of every day I have on this earth (as if I know anything…), it’s so easy to lose sight of that perspective. Especially when embarking on a hunt for the “what’s next.” But with that perspective comes freedom to stop pressuring ourselves to do better faster. We’re free to spin around in circles on our tricycle for a few minutes. We’re free to be thankful for it. It doesn’t have to mean we’ve forgotten how to steer. And maybe, if we’re as fortunate as little Wesley, those around us might stop to marvel at a joy that doesn’t make sense by the standards of this world. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even see the source of our joy and want in on it.

I really don’t remember this nearly as often as I should. Wish I remembered it more.

Ending with a piece of Dad’s wisdom that helped inspire this post: “We’re human beings, Ash. Not human doings. Stay motivated, but pay a little less attention to where you’re going in order to really see the people you meet along the way; because that’s where life happens. And trust that he’ll get you where you need to go.”

So here’s to learning how to be thankful for the awkward in-between. To being patient while I actively look toward what’s next. To a God who guides and intercedes. And especially to kiddos with lisps that remind me of all of these things completely unintentionally.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jackson slowly inches back up the driveway toward his brother. I can tell he’s torn between finishing the race and seeing what the giggling is all about. He gives in to his curiosity.

“Hey, I wanna spin….”

“Come on, Jackson! It’s fun!”

Take your time, boys. You’ll both get to the end of the driveway eventually.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:15-17

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