“I would like to tell you something, Clara,” I said to the little girl sitting in the passenger seat of the car. “I believe you are very important in our family, and everything I do in raising you is preparing you for a special purpose in the future.” She nodded and continued eating from a small bag of gummy bears.

We were driving home from our special Daddy-Daughter lunch on the afternoon of her 8th birthday. She was sitting taller than usual, confident and visibly older. This was partially due to the fact that we couldn’t get the back door of my car to open, so I let her sit in the front seat for the short drive home. But there was something different about how she was acting, as if she was actually feeling older on the inside today. She glanced up, waiting for me to continue.

“I see you as the protector of our family. Someday, a long time from now maybe, but someday, your mother and I will be gone, and you will be the oldest in the family and your brother and sister will look to you for advice and guidance. So, I am expecting you to be the guardian of their faith.”

She smiled and raised her eyebrows slightly but kept listening.

“What I mean by that, is I am going to need you to grow into a strong faithful woman. But not only for your own sake, but for the sake of leading and watching after your brother and sister. I want you to be willing to drop everything that you are doing so you can run to Lydia’s side and celebrate her success. And I want to be ready to put all of your priorities on hold and fly to the other side of the world if needed so you can cry with Gideon if he has a reason to cry. And I want you to remind them- get in their face if you have to and really shake them up, to remind them that they are children of God and their decisions matter, if you see them doing something they shouldn’t be.”

She listened quietly. Suddenly very mature, absorbing her responsibilities as the oldest child in the family with a quiet dignity. Finally after several seconds she spoke.

“Well, I have one question, Dad.”

“Sure,” I pat her on the knee. I’m sure she had many questions, but we would start with this first one and move up from there.

“Okay.” She held up her package of gummy bears. “So, what flavor are green gummy bears? Because there’s a picture on the package of all the different fruit and the only thing that is green in the picture are the leaves on the top of the pineapple.” She leaned over and held the bag in front of my face.

I pushed her hand away and swerved to stay on the road. “What?”

She pointed, “Are green gummy bears pineapple leaf flavor or what? Because that’s kind of gross, right?”

I shook my head sorting through a large stack of possible responses. I sighed, “Sure. Yes, Clara. Green gummy bears taste like pineapple leaves, and that’s gross, so you should give me all of the green ones.” I held out my hand, and she dumped a small pile into my palm.

“Okay,” I thought to myself. “You are only eight-years-old. Be a child as long as you can. I’ll concern myself with the future; you just worry about gummy bears. We will get back to this subject later. Maybe in a few years. Perhaps on a birthday not long from now when you are in the driver’s seat and I’m the one sitting in the passenger seat with a bag of gummy bears.”