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What My Children Don’t Know


“Green means go. Yellow means slow down. Red means stop. Green means go…” The chanting from the back seat reminds me that my children don’t know what stop lights are. We are back in the US for the first time in two years, and my kids (5, 3, and 2) remember almost nothing of their passport country. It is funny observing what my kids don’t know. They don’t know that it can be cold outside when the sun is shining. They don’t know how to sit in a shopping cart or how to play outside with their shoes on. They don’t realize that they don’t actually know every other white person they see. MAF Missionary Lincoln Family Children enjoying a playgroundThey don’t know what a playground is or why there aren’t any ants in March. They don’t know that you can drink water out of the tap or what a dryer is. They don’t know where “home” is. And for a moment I catch myself mourning all of the things they don’t know … extended family members, smooth roads, watermelon. And then I hear my daughter’s voice call down in perfect French from the top of the slide. “Regard moi, Papa! Je suis très haut!” (“Look at me, Daddy! I’m very high!”) And I am overwhelmed with all of the things they do know. They can find Congo on a map and can recognize an okapi. They speak fluently in two languages and understand a third. They think a coloring book and new crayons are the best gift ever—being totally thrilled with the simple pleasures of life. They know how to sit on hard wooden benches through a three-hour church service. They are totally color blind—seeing all people as precious and can carry (mostly) intelligent conversation with adults and children alike. They honestly think they are related to everyone they love and have an adaptability that astounds me. And they know Jesus. So even though they don’t know what a toaster is, I gladly lay down everything they don’t know for the treasure of what they do.

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