Tuesday, 21 September 2010
It’s more than being outnumbered: On teaching character and grace
The jig’s up.
Being the mother of four kids, I can no longer slip things under their little radars. There’s nothing I do that escapes four pairs of eyes and ears, and they let me know. Every. Time.
Like the candy drawer — they know where it is. Or when I eat something outside the predetermined snack or meal time. Or when I’m impatient with another driver. Or when I say we’ll have dessert tomorrow night and then we don’t.
Teaching them how to be decent human beings full of love and integrity is a double-edged sword, isn’t it?
Because you only know you’ve succeeded when they start calling you out, and you know they’re right.
If you spend any time with kids, you know how their questions can be. Are you thinking curious, bright and full of wonder?
Oh right. Yes, well, that too.
But also: Incessant.
“Mom, what are we having for dinner tonight?”
“Mom, what are we doing today?”
“Mom, can I have gum/dessert/candy/a snack/a playdate/screen time/a nap (just kidding)?”
In the car on the way home from the pool recently, one of them asked about dinner. I told them my plan (and I really hate planning dinner, so it was a miracle I had one), and immediately two of them started whining about it.
I did a quick inhale through my nose to calm down. (It didn’t work.) I had three thoughts during that inhale: First of all, I’m making this food to keep you ALIVE because I LOVE YOU. Second, there are plenty of kids with not enough to eat. Third, STOP WHINING.
And it was the sun and the effort of the day and the fact that they’d whined every day about dinner for four days and maybe also my own hunger for lunch, but I started yelling.
“I do NOT want to hear ANY MORE COMPLAINING about what we’re having for DINNER, OKAY?!”
“Well, maybe you could stop YELLING AT US,” one of them replied. (calling me out #1)
“I’M YELLING BECAUSE I’M MAD!” (+ for using my words. – for well, yelling.)
3-year-old then starts singing a preschool TV program song softly to me: “When you feel so mad, and you want to roar, take a deep breath… and count to four. Mommy, you can count too!”
Everyone busts up laughing. I smile and soften, too.
God trusts me to teach them integrity and build their character, yes. And then he lets me do it imperfectly so that I can also teach them about grace.
And the only way I can teach them that? Is by giving it to myself first.
Have a story to share of when God taught you a thing or two through your kids? Share it with me in the comments.