Friday afternoons in the Bentley-household is family-afternoon. Nothing is allowed to impinge on this time. Usually we go out for lunch, then I drop Natalie and Nathan off at home (because Nathan still has a nap in the afternoon) and then Matt and I spend a little bit of Matthew-pappa-time together at a venue of his choice - usually Woodlands Boulevard for an ice-cream.
Matt is not a wonderful eater. We always have to negotiate some form of positive outcome for his willingness to finish his food. Negotiating works, because he has a good dollop of Greek blood running through his veins. This Friday past, we (the whole family) decided to have lunch at the Wimpy. Matt had his usual vienna and chips with Coke-light. The deal at Wimpy, like so many other food outlets, is that kiddies get a toy with every kiddies meal. I called the waitress aside and asked her only to bring a toy when Matt had finished his meal, otherwise the toy will distract him. Halfway through our meal, she came across with armloads of toys, told Matthew that he could choose one, but that she would only bring it when she saw an "empty" plate. He understood the transaction. He chose a toy, she turned and left.
As soon as she was out of sight, he leant over the table, looked Natalie and myself straight in the eyes, and whispered with a calculating look on his face "Hey, you guys better help me here!"
Lots of lessons to be learnt from this episode, but I won't start my sermon with this illustration, lest Stanley Hauerwas may be sitting in the congregation. (His opinion is that when a minister starts a sermon with the words "This week my son taught me a valuable lesson...", he knows that he is in for a long, shallow sermon.