In my house, the word “seriously” has a life of its own.

“Who stepped on my new Lego set?! Seriously!!”

“Did you seriously just do the opposite of what I asked?”

“Seriously? You’re asking me that again?”

“I’m seeweeuswee gunna punch him!”

Each and every seriously has its own meaning, its own story. And they all drive me nuts.

I recently put out a jar and told my kids that they had to put 25 cents in it every time the word was uttered. Elijah went to his room and returned with a $2.75  pre-payment. He was actually happy to pay. The usage was worth the money.

It’s a hard word for some to let go of. And every time someone slips up, it gets put into the head of someone else and starts all over again. It’s the domino effect.

Here’s the thing, homeschooling in a small house has its pros and cons. Closeness and comradery: pro. No place to hide: con.

We have eight people living in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom rancher. It can feel a bit tight some days. Generally speaking, we do our best and try not be total jerks. Also generally speaking, our growth in virtue is challenged every day. We don’t always win the fight.

The thing I am most conscious of these days is how hard it is to pretend to be anything other than a broken, post-Eden, concupiscent human. This is what I mean by having no place to hide. I love my children, and sure, I need space sometimes, but by hiding I mean something more like pretending. When eight people share a cottage built for two there is no pretending. Every word, action, and “seriously” is seen and heard. I’m sure they can read my thoughts too. That’s humbling enough, but the real problem is that little people just can’t seem to stop imitating big people.

It turns out that I am the instigator of the “seriously” problem. And it wasn’t until I tried to stop everyone else from saying it that we all noticed how often I say it. When I discovered this I began to notice a few other things that I’ve passed on to my children; sarcasm, impatience, cheekiness. It’s a discouraging realization, my beautiful children losing sanctity simply because of my bad example.

Scott and I are bound and determined to enter heaven, hand and hand with each of our children. I know my example could be enough to derail one’s faith. That scares the heck out of me. But here’s the thing – not many of us will be given the grace to live a sinless life. Not too many will conquer concupiscence completely. The sins of the father will always be on the heads of his children.

But ... in a small house with no place to hide, grace can conquer when She is invited in. Grace conquers every time I steady myself and apologize to my child. Grace conquers when they forgive me. When we are driving each other crazy with our tired humanity, grace conquers because we keep trying to love.

And here’s another thing – the sins of the father on the heads of those children might be a scary thought. But the hand of the Father, and the blood of his Son, is also upon the heads of those who love Him.

We are the sons and daughters of flawed mothers and fathers, but we are more truly sons and daughters to a King who conquers everything within us that is unlike him. And this is where the example of a parent matters.

Does a child see his parent in prayer, asking God’s grace when she is weak and tired? Does a child see his parent in the confessional line, receiving the sacraments with humility, honouring their spouse, speaking as a Christian ought, grateful for the good things they have? Does a child hear and know they are loved and forgiven, and worthy of forgiving?

Yes? Sometimes? Then the dominoes are set on a pathway that will draw them to the love of a Father and a heavenly Mother who will never fail them. They are set to be conquered and made again into the image and likeness of the One Who is Love.   

And that’s pretty awesome. Seriously.