I suppose that title requires some explanation. I don't wish any of our grandchildren harm, but I do wish for them a better good.
Jonathan (age 9 1/2) and Noah (almost 7) have it pretty bad: poison ivy over much of their bodies, faces red and swollen and bound to get worse when the blisters come. I'm not happy that they're suffering.
But they've seen a doctor, who was not at all concerned; they've started treatment, which should help a lot; and they seem to be weathering it surprisingly well (being not nearly as wimpy as their grandmother when it comes to anything skin-rash-related). Therefore I feel free to be delighted at this evidence that life for them is an adventure.
Physically, they were only in their backyard, but who knows where they were in their imaginations? Whatever the adventure was, it required bows and arrows. At some point, both Native Americans and English longbowmen learned that you don't use poison ivy vines for bowstrings, and that if you use your teeth in place of a knife, you'd better know what it is you're cutting into. Jonathan and Noah know that now, too.
They also know that adventure entails risk, and sometimes you get hurt. To be honest, this is not the first time they've learned that particular lesson. My hope is that with each small risk and each small hurt they develop not only muscles and grit, but also discernment, so that by the time they are teens they have a good idea how to tell a reasonable risk from a stupid one.
The following is a multi-hand story. I no longer remember which of my blog- or Facebook-friends pointed me to Brave Moms Raise Brave Kids, though now that I've found it again through a Google search on a phrase I remembered, I'm guessing it was something on Free-Range Kids. It turns out that the story wasn't the author's anyway; her source was a sermon by Erwin McManus. (Don't expect to get much from that link unless you're a subscriber of Preaching Today.)
The gist of the story is this: McManus's young son, Aaron, came home from Christian camp one year, frightened and unable to sleep because of the "ghost stories" told there about devils and demons. He begged his father not to turn off the light, to stay with him, and to pray that he would be safe. Here's his father's unconventional response:
I could feel it. I could feel warm-blanket Christianity beginning to wrap around him, a life of safety, safety, safety.
I said, "Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room."
There's nothing wrong with praying for safety. I pray constantly for the safety of those we love, and of others as well. But McManus's point is well taken: Safety is not much of a life goal. I want our grandchildren (boys and girls) to grow up dangerous to all that is evil, and to all that is wrong with the world.
Sometimes poison ivy is just poison ivy, but sometimes it is warrior training.