Daniel loves water. In abundance. When he catches sight of me heading to the basement to start a load of laundry, I know I will soon hear the patter of his following feet on the steps. And then his voice full of anticipation, “Can I watch?” I'm not sure why he gets such a thrill out of the water pouring into the washing machine, but he does. And I have to give him a time limit on how long he can stand there before the lid needs to be closed so the spin cycle can begin.
Yesterday afternoon I was lying on the couch with an ice pack and a migraine. Daniel wanted to be in the backyard playing with his sticks while it was raining. After he felt he'd gotten wet enough, he came in. And I told him he could choose a shower or a bath. He chose a shower and was in there a super long time. Recently, I've sort of taken on the role of water police with Daniel because he'll just keep letting the water run when he's washing his hands or filling up his water bottle...
Yesterday though I just could not get off the couch to tell him he'd been in there long enough, so I told myself (multiple times) to relax and let him take as long of a shower as he wanted this time. Finally I heard the water stop. And then a couple of minutes later it started back up again. Then off. Then on again. About five times. What in the world? I can't even. What is it with this boy and water.
And then I heard the bathroom sink turn on. Full force. And off. And on again.
Eventually he came down the stairs. “Hi,” he said as he put his arms through his shirt sleeves to cover his wet upper body.
“What was going on with all the water up there?” I asked him.
“I needed to cool my hair.”
After checking his reflection in the mirror, he ventured back upstairs and turned the light on in David's room.
“What are you doing now?” I inquired when he appeared in the living room again.
“Brushing my hair.” In his hand was a toothbrush that came from an airplane travel bag. (Don't tell David. He's at my parents' this week for his special 12 year old camp.)
“That's a toothbrush!”
He had no clue. He just wanted to cool his hair. So I took this picture of him with his cool hairstyle.
Maybe this boy needs some gel. And then he wouldn't need to use so much water to get the look he's trying for.
Or, what if I just let him use all the water he wanted?
We have a Max Lucado children's book, translated into Chinese called 你所需要的. The English title is All You Ever Need. It's the story of a generous well owner and his son who distribute water to the townspeople. “你要多少就来多少吧!” (Take as much as you need.) They left a man to be in charge of the well while they were gone, and he began to make all kinds of rules on how much water he felt the people deserved. They all got angry with him and complained that they were going to die of thirst.
Then one day a stranger came to the well, with his head covered. The water manager yelled at him, demanding to know what right he had to get water here. The stranger then uncovered his head to reveal his identity...the well owner's son. His father had instructed him to return to the well in order to distribute water to everyone. The townspeople were relieved to be able to receive their water freely again, but they didn't want the water manager to receive any because of how badly he had treated them. The son challenged them, “如果我只把水给好人，有人喝得到吗?” (If I only gave water to good people, who would be able to drink?)
Everyone can have as much water as they need.
While I want Daniel to learn not to waste water, I also want to stop acting like the water police. When I hear the sound of water running in the house, I don't want my immediate reaction to be, “No more water! That's enough.” I want to be reminded of our generous well owner and his son who delight in giving water to those who are thirsty. And to give thanks that this gift of abundant grace is poured out in Daniel's life. And in mine as well. Undeserved and free.