Every morning I drive my kindergarten age son to school. Every morning we park down the street next to 20 other cars and take the short walk into the school, down the hallway to his classroom. Though I could drop him off in the car line, he prefers the escort and I prefer the company. Recognizing that life is short and children will not always want their parents around, I enjoy our morning routine.
Every morning, as we walk to the school – we pass by the friendly police officer who stands on the corner making sure none of us is run over by a sleepy driver. We arrive at the same time, we park in the same place, we nod hello to the same parents. This scenario is so predictable it is as if we are living out a scene from the movie Groundhog’s Day.
So, you can imagine my surprise when yesterday my son refused to get out of the car. Running a few minutes behind schedule, he was eating his bagel in the car and had not finished yet. The conversation went something like this:
- Me: “Let’s go buddy. You are going to be late.”
- Son: “I can’t daddy. I’m not finished my bagel yet.”
- Me: “Eat and walk. You’ll be done before you get to your classroom.”
- Son: “I can’t, Dad. The police officer is there.”
- Me: “The police officer? So what?”
- Son: “Dad, you know you can’t eat on the street. We’ll get in trouble.”
You can’t eat on the street? I was not familiar with that rule. Perhaps that law was passed in the middle of the night and I had not gotten word of it yet? Perhaps there was a crumb ordinance concerning the sidewalk around his school that I was not aware of? Maybe the police officer had a bad experience with a bagel once? I could insert a donut joke here, but I respect their position too much.
After a solid five minutes of reasoning, pleading, begging, bribing, negotiating, threatening my son to get out of the car with his bagel – we began our walk to his classroom. As we got closer to the police officer, my son made sure I was inbetween him and the law. He also made sure his half eaten bagel was on his far side, out of view. I couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t have food around the officer. I had never seen him so nervous while being so innocent. He was acting like a drug mule crossing the border of Mexico, except the drug was a plain bagel and the border was an elementary school. I almost wanted to apply for a concealed bagels permit or something for him, to ease his little mind.
We successfully made it past the cop and he finished his bagel and was safely in his classroom. As I walked past the officer, I smiled – as if I pulled a fast one on him. I wondered if his trained eye had even seen the bagel. I laughed as I drove home, wondering what had just happened. I imagined him telling his classmates an embellished story of how he smuggled a bagel through the no-bagel zone and eluded capture. Maybe that was my son’s initiation into a nefarious kindergarten school gang?
The whole situation caused me to reflect on how different we all are. There are those (like my son) who have such a pure heart and conscience that even when they are doing nothing wrong, they feel guilty. There are others (like me) who could steal candy from a baby and not even think twice about the action. Babies shouldn’t have candy anyway.
It reminded me of the scene in John chapter 1 when Jesus first met Nathanael. Within moments of meeting him and gazing into his heart, Jesus declared, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Jesus didn’t comment on his height. He didn’t remark on his hair. He didn’t compliment his robe or fashionable sandals. He looked at the only thing that mattered, his heart, and saw its purity.
I want that kind of heart. I want that kind of purity. I want that kind of conscience. My son is challenging me, while eating a bagel, to get it. Until then, I’m going to try to sneak an omelette past the officer tomorrow and see what happens.
“Let us draw near (to God) with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” – Hebrews 10:22