From a distance, I watched two little boys hunched over in the sandbox. One sported a mop of platinum curls and wore an orange Kool-Aid mustache. In typical little boy fashion, he skidded and careened a plastic truck through the sand, crashing into the other toys in a spectacular display of vehicular manslaughter. The other little boy, taller and thinner, sat off to the side and quietly observed.
After a minute, Curly got bored with the truck and set off on another search and destroy mission. Slim watched Curly saunter off. After he was sure he wasn’t coming back, he claimed the truck for himself and set about road building.
Curly turned to see Slim with the truck. He ran back to sandbox and tried to snatch it away. Slim, fearful yet determined, stood up and clutched the plastic truck to his chest. His father stood off to the side and watched. “Stand your ground,” he quietly encouraged without intervening. They struggled with the toy, back and forth, wrenching, twisting and turning. Although timid by nature, Slim held fast, secure in the knowledge that his father was nearby. For reasons known only to Curly, he gave up the struggle and decided to move along.
Alone in the sandbox again, Slims’ father came over and sat by him. “You were right to stand up for yourself,” he said, “but the next time that happens, why don’t you just give him the truck and say, “Here, if it means that much to you, I want you to have it.”
Slim is my three-year-old son. The lesson in the sandbox that day probably washed over him like the autumn breeze. So for now, for these few years that he is mine, I will continue to try to teach him sandbox theology — to be secure in the knowledge that his heavenly father is always nearby, watching over him, to bravely stand up for who he is in Christ while yielding to the needs and desires of others, because it is Godly to do so.
And maybe in the process, I can learn these things myself.