All in all, I had it pretty easy.
My dad was a steel worker. My mom was a school teacher before she became a full-time homemaker. It was just like everybody else in Bluff Park…a suburban subdivision that existed so steelworkers and full-time homemakers could pursue the American Dream. Sure, there were plenty of accountants and engineers and insurance salespersons and car salespersons and the whole mix. But all our parents were in the workaday world that is easily understood by the masses.
And there were two PK’s that went to my high school. Pastor’s Kids, for the uninitiated.
One set of PK’s went to the large SBC church in our community. When they turned 16 they got really nice cars. Another set of PK’s went to my much smaller Bible church. They got cars, too, when they turned 16. They just weren’t really nice. They were just average nice.
And, for the most part, the PK’s were simply along for the ride of being a teenager like the rest of us. They did their schoolwork, they did their extracurricular activities, they did their youth group stuff and they blended into the high school life melting-pot fine.
Except every now and then we’d execute our own set of judgments because…
…there were some places they weren’t supposed to blend into the high school life melting-pot.
Don’t get me wrong. Neither set of PK’s went off the deep end. I’m talking about if one of them showed up at the same party we happened to be hanging out and there was a keg present. Or maybe one of them snuck into the same “R”-rated movie we’d snuck into (well, “sneaking into” sounds more glamorous than “purchased a ticket for another movie and walked into the one that Jason Voorhees was slashing counselors at Camp Crystal Lake”). Or maybe they’d been seen kissing someone at Star Lake or Papa Joe’s parking lot. Nothing major. Just typical teenage stuff.
Our execution of judgment was based on one presuppostion: “But, their dad is a pastor.”
I mean, we certainly didn’t execute the same morality when Baker made out with Cheryl after the homecoming dance. Not one of us said, “But Bake’s dad’s in pharmaceutical sales. Should he be doing that? His mom works in the attendance office, for cryin’ out loud. You’d expect more from him.”
So, while I freely admit I’m out to lunch on exactly how much my pastoral position affects my children, I try my best to be sensitive to that reality. It’s hard enough being in the high school life melting-pot, so I ask them about the “pressure” of being a PK every now and then. Outside of telling me that they’ve learned that “just 5 more minutes to lock-up and then we can leave” really means that “45 minutes later we’ll be walking out (which is why they both carry books with them when they know I’m the only ride home)” and that every now and then they’ve got to keep their mouths shut about some church business they overheard Tracy and I talking about…they don’t say it really bothers them all that much. Crossroads (my church) has a long, wonderful history of giving the PK’s–about 11 notables since I’ve been there–a lot of room to be teenagers and all that implies.
But every now and then that pressure shows up in the strangest places.
Like yesterday, my daughter began a new school where no one knew that her dad was a pastor. Or so she thought. I bet she was looking to have a nice break from that little slice of information. It would’ve been the first time in her life she could’ve existed without that little arrow pointed at her. (Which, by the way, if you want to read a pretty funny account of her first day, check out the link at left for the “petite Picasso.”)
At some point in the day, Ricky (nicknamed “The Tomato”), upon being introduced to my daughter, responds with, “Oh, hey…you’re the pastor’s daughter.”
She glares at the one other teenager who goes to our church that attends that particular school.
He apparently was asked by The Tomato how he knew Kid1, and his harmless response was, “She goes to my church. Her dad was my youth pastor.” He also told Kelsey he was sorry about that little slip. He’s a good egg and I’m sure it was more converstational than anything else.
This aroused the attention of the hearers, to which Kelsey diffused the situation by saying, “Yeah. It’s true, but he’s got really long hair and five tattoos.” This seemed to take my occupation back to irrelevance and they went back to whatever it is that high schoolers occupy themselves with between classes or at lunch or whatever. Kid1 likes The Tomato.
And, I know that being a PK also has some distinct blessings in connection with it, too. Like I said, our congregation is loving and giving and appreciates the staff…which carries over into our children in ways too numerous to list here.
But, there is a unique set of expectations…both good and bad…on the PK’s. There just is. And it’s their burden to bear. I mean, I’d imagine that children of school teachers or political candidates or coaches and the like have their own set of pressures.
And I’m glad it’s been relatively easy on my kids…thus far, anyway. I don’t expect that to change.
But ultimately, I think I want the same thing for my kids as everybody else: For the freedom to be themselves and blend into the high school life melting-pot, with all the social/sexual/academic/extracurriular successes and (more importantly) failures, and be given the grace to grow and discover their place in the universe. That takes time.
And varied successes.
And varied failures.
That’s hard enough…and no parent wants their fishbowl of a life heaped on their kids. Even if their kids make swimming in that fishbowl look normal and graceful and peaceful.
Today, I’m thankful for that.