At 7:50 a.m. this morning, when it was time to trek down the street with my 4 kids (though the middle schooler must walk at a significant difference to maintain her “cool” quotient), it was a crisp 5 degrees. That’s a spring day for some places on earth, but for Richmond VA, it’s downright cold. It was a cold that slapped me in the face the second I cracked open the front door. A cold that says, “I dare you to inhale through your nose.” Just plain cold.
Now, my wife and I have a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” approach to parenting. We’re not too big on coddling or making things comfortable for our kids. There’s a kid down the street who sits in a Knight Rider look-alike Mustang every morning, keeping warm with his dad. Me? I’m more of a “Oh, you’ll be fine” kind of dad. But this morning, I conceided and offered to crank up the ol’ 92 Crown Vic and drive the kids the short distance to the bus stop, and allow them to sit in relative warmth until their bus came.
I had one taker. Macy, our 6 year old. She climbed in and we picked up our youngest on the way. And even though you could still see your breath in the car, it was warmer than being outside where your breath seemed to freeze to your face. So, the three of us sat…waiting for the bus.
But within the first 2 minutes or so, their friends began to gather at the bus stop. And it didn’t take but a second or two for my 5 and 6 year old kids to make a clear decision between warmth with me and freezing snot with their friends. I don’t have to tell you who won that one.
And as I sat there alone with warm air from the vents thawing me out, and watched my kids playing with their friends, I was reminded of the power of friends and community. It’s innate in us to crave connection with other humans. It matters to us if we matter to anyone else. And when it comes down to it, most would rather suffer with others than be comfortable alone. If you’ve read the first 3 chapters of the Bible, this is no shock at all. It just makes sense.
And it was probably within 60-90 seconds after my kids left the car that I made the same decision. I turned the car off, opened the door, and stepped out into the 5-degree cold to stand near another dad who was there with his son. Our desire for connection drives us to do crazy things.