We had a wonderful trip last month as we went to attend the baptisms of two of our grandchildren who had just reached the marvelous “age of accountability.”
We love that phrase ... and we love that age!
What could be more wonderful than an 8-year-old? Kids at this remarkable age are still young enough to be sweet and pure and naive, yet old enough to be very conceptual and to “get things” and to be responsible. For the most part, they have not yet learned cynicism and sarcasm, and perhaps most amazing of all, they still think their parents know something.
They have a certain earnestness and sincerity and a genuine desire to please. Their faith is pure and untarnished by the world.
I (Linda) have always said that 8-year-olds are old enough to know what is wrong, yet young enough to not have done much of it yet.
They are able to be empathetic and to really want to help others. They are actually flattered by responsibility.
In our family, turning 8 has always been something of a “rite of passage.” Not only do our children get baptized, they also get to become members of the Family Economy and to have the Big Talk about Sex. We have written extensively about both of these topics in earlier columns, but suffice it to say here that giving them accountability for their money and their clothes and their things, their bodies and especially their choices between right and wrong is a pretty big step in their lives.
Along with their baptisms, in our family we make it a little like promoting them to the “middle management” of the family. And they love it. Those over 8 become “tutors” to the “tutees” who are under 8 — helping them with everything from their schoolwork to getting their meat cut up at the dinner table.
On this recent trip, we were able to see our lovely little granddaughter Claire get baptized in Gilbert, Ariz., and I (Richard) was actually able to baptize our terrific little grandson Camden in Hawaii. Both kids were thrilled over the moon to become “real members of the church,” and their parents had done a fabulous job in getting them ready and helping them anticipate the day and understand the importance of what was going to happen. In both cases, their parents had the Big Talk about Sex with them shortly after their baptisms and welcomed them into their own kinds of family economy along with its added responsibilities in the home.
Earlier in the year, when Camden, a wonderfully earnest child, called me to ask if I would baptize him, I asked how his dad would feel about that and if he was sure that he wouldn’t rather have his father do it. He said no, that he and his dad had been talking about it and they had decided that it would be cool for both of them to be baptized by the same person.
Granddaughter Claire was our first stop, and this competitive and fun-loving little soul was truly humbled by her baptism. She gave us an especially sweet moment as she told us afterward how much it meant to her to be “a real member of the church” and how clean and pure she felt after having her “sins washed away.”
A week later, grandson Camden told me in the dressing room as we were getting ready to go back into the service after I baptized him, “Grandfather, that water felt really cold when we walked down into it, but it actually felt kinda warm when you dunked me under it.”
Later, driving back to his home after the service, I happened to mention to Cam that of all my children, I felt like his dad was the very best worker. He considered that very carefully for a moment and then said, “That’s great, Grandfather, and I am going to be sure that it continues, from generation to generation.”
Oh, what a magical thing is the age of accountability.
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda's blog www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/A-World-of-Good.html and visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com.