I’m sitting on his bed, rubbing his back, and just chatting as he relaxes to sleep. He needs to take a shower before school tomorrow. I’m proud of how hard he worked at his homework tonight. I’m so thankful I get to be his mom right now. Oh, what would you like for breakfast tomorrow? It’s his turn to pick. And then the answer comes.
I hesitate. I want to say no so badly. There are so many reasons. All of them are dying on my tongue because I realize how flimsy and selfish they are. My mouth is moving like a fish as I try to decide which words to allow to exit. There’s really no good reason for me to say “no” to pancakes. I close my mouth. Nod. Smile. Yes. I’ll make pancakes for him. He smiles. A big smile. And lays his head back down on the pillow.
It’s really such a simple thing. Making pancakes. But oh, I do not enjoy it! Pancakes are messy. They create extra dishes. They take extra time. And at least one child will need a bath afterwards, because, well…syrup. And yet, in the grand scheme of things, a little bit busier of a morning really doesn’t even compare to the effect it could have on a little boy’s life.
You see, this young man is 10. He is 10. I don’t know how long he will be in my home. Under my care. I don’t know how long God has gifted him to me. It could be just for tomorrow. It could be for the rest of his childhood. But, do you see? Even if he were to stay. Even if adoption were the answer. He would never be in our home as long as he wasn’t in it. He is over halfway raised. He is beginning to make decisions. Form his own opinions. Make his own way.
I have very few moments. Very few chances to make an impression on his heart. To demonstrate true love to him. To share truth with him. Pancakes could be viewed as a trivial nuisance. I almost gave in to the temptation to view them just that way. But in reality, they are huge in this little guy’s heart. And not just the pancakes. The fact that I said “yes” to his request. I gained a little bit more of his trust just then. He learned that he could ask. That I would consider. That I would give if I could. Even when I didn’t want to.
This is not what he is used to. He is used to fending for himself. Making his own decisions. Manipulating to get his own way. He is used to adults taking from him, and then blaming him. He has been the responsible one. He has been carrying a heavy burden and he has not been doing a great job at it. Of course he hasn’t. He’s only 10. It is so clear that our moments are few. Our time short. There is so much to teach him. So much to give. We haven’t had all the moments we would wish for. They are gone. He has learned the wrong lessons. And now, redeeming that time is crucial.
Sometimes I hold myself back selfishly from giving all that I have to give to these children. I miss my freedoms. I miss my smooth, quiet mornings. I miss working. I miss counseling. Some days I feel like God gifted me for more than making pancakes. More than folding laundry and doing dishes. More than picking up the toys…again. More than driving around like a glorified chauffeur. More than sorting through clothes for growing children more often than seems humanly possible. More.
But then, it is in moments like this when I remember. It is so abundantly clear to me. Saying “yes.” Making pancakes. Dropping a kiss on his head as I set a plate in front of him. This is what I have. These are the moments I have been given to make a difference. This is a young man who will soon be grown. He will soon walk out into the world. He will make choices, and he will make a difference – whether for good or for evil. God only knows which it is. But He has given me the right now. He has allowed me the overwhelming privilege to touch this little man’s life. And if pancakes could possibly open a little door. Allow me to plant seeds, or water them. If pancakes could help Him see Jesus. Then pancakes it is.