When You Just Want Your Kids to Leave You Alone

I've been there.
Recently, I was trying to complete a few meager chores (namely cleaning up from breakfast before it was time for lunch), when my three oldest boys broke into a fight. I heard shrill screams and offensive banter through the kitchen window, and whipped my head up to see what the commotion was all about. You know what it was? Worms. They were having a verbal sparring match over who was holding the longest worm.

After I dealt with the worm incident, the breakfast mess was still calling my name. But I didn't get more than three steps closer to the sink before muddy feet pushed their way through the door to tell me something else that was absolutely urgent.  Okay, hold on again dishes. Looks like I'm not ready for you yet. Nearly twenty minutes later, I was still responding to issue after issue.
This is the stuff that makes me want to mutter, "Why can't you guys just leave me alone?"

These "interrupting" moments make up more than just late-morning sibling rivalries. It's the feeling of laying your head on your pillow, snuggling in perfectly after an exhausting day, only to hear a piercing cry the exact moment you close your eyes. It's the way you suddenly have magnets on your knees when the phone rings and you actually need to have an adult conversation for less than two minutes. It's when you just want to use the bathroom in peace without hearing something fall over in the other room.
I just want to get my clothes changed.
I just want to talk.
I just want to finish this one thing.
Why won't you just leave me alone?!!

But do we really want our children to leave us alone? Not exactly. We just want some healthy space. The lack of which drives us to irrational comments and extreme emotions.

Did Jesus want children to leave him alone?
Jesus experienced similar needs and demands. Throughout most of his ministry, he had people following him around with odd bodily functions and illnesses. People who demanded his attention at that very moment. People who pleaded for him to touch them, hear them, and heal them as soon as possible. While he did go to a quiet place to retreat to commune with his Father in prayer, he still engaged the crowds.

And one day, we have on record that Jesus' disciples were standing around as children approached. Loud, pushing, worm-fighting, task-interrupting children. Just how he loves them.

His disciples responded exactly how I would have. "No. Leave Jesus alone. He is busy and you are being an annoyance." (my paraphrase) But that wasn't Jesus' response.  In fact, the disciples made him indignant. He said "Let the little children come to me. Do not forbid them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:14)

Jesus gets something that we don't. It's not the task masters, the strivers, the controllers, and the prideful adult spirits that dwell with him forever. It's the needy, the dependent, the cling-on's, and the childlike. It's the ones that can't leave him alone that ultimately come with him.

Who we worship determines who we welcome
If we worship ourselves, our task list, our comfort, our quiet, our needs, and our control, we will demand to be left alone. We will take it up as our right, because our goals are not rooted in a desire to shape hearts for the glory of God. Our goals are rooted in a need for temporal relief.

So I still understand the desire to use the bathroom without the fear of a domestic war breaking out. It's okay to expect your children to do something productive and patient while you use the phone. But let us be cautions in our murmuring about being "left alone." Let us hear the hard-hearted sound of the phrase "leave me alone,"  and exchange it for "come to me." In this we image Jesus, we honor him, and we point our little ones to the cross.

For a look at how we can disciple and bless our children as we train them to wait patiently, contribute, and play independently - read this

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