My children are ninjas. That occurred to me as I was picking up 4 random toys strewn haphazardly across the living room after dinner tonight. It’s the only explanation really, given I’ve made a silent oath to enforce the clean up of every mess before a new one is made. I can’t explain how it happens. When they are playing with something I make a mental note to ensure its put away, but seemingly without movement I blink and they’ve disappeared to the next mess.
So call them back and have them clean it up…. ahhhh…. logical response my fellow reader, and one I choose to implement often. The problem I’m discovering, when I call them back they re-engage with their original activity, leaving the newly created mess behind in their wake. I feel like I’m stuck in the bad blond joke, where you give a blond a piece of paper that says ‘turn over’…. on both sides.
I wish being a tyrant was the in vogue style of parenting, as opposed to the trend of allowing children to ‘discover’ who they are with our gentle guidance. I would be SO vogue! I have discovered my children are every bit as whiny, selfish, irresponsible, prone to stealing (each other’s toys, a snack, etc…), lying (about said stealing), and assault (to each other… yes boys will be boys… but there is a line… somewhere) as you would expect from 2 & 4 year old boys. With this said, based on the behavior I can see from children any day of the week on local playgrounds, I would still classify my boys as well behaved. I’ve got high standards for them. I’m not willing to compromise those standards because they aren’t the cool way to parent right now.
I am proud to be a tyrant. I hate being a tyrant. Being a tyrant now will pay off. I say these three things to myself on repeat throughout the day.
It comes in phases. They’ll decide to test a boundary, and it will last for a month or two. I’ll have to put on my tyrant hat and hold firm to the law of the land, consistently, every time. If I look the other way once, I just prolonged my boundary testing phase by at least a week. It’s war over here right now peeps. I may lose a battle here and there, but I will WIN the war! You think I’m kidding. I don’t see it as a coincidence this behavior immediately follows a week in Michigan for Thanksgiving, with parties at Grandparents house almost every night, and a very loosely held schedule. Give ’em an inch they take a mile.
I wish they could understand how much it breaks my heart. How I loathe being the enforcer. That perspective has come in handy in refining how I see God. I used to think He was up there with His magnifying glass messing with the ant hills He had created. Yeah, my perspective was a bit skewed. He loathes being the enforcer exponentially more than I do. Hoping beyond hope that we’ll choose right, believe in Him, allow Him to guide us, dreading the alternative…. but being the Ultimate Father that He is, He cannot stand by and allow our poor choices to pass without consequence. I hold the same hope He does, that my correction will draw them closer to Him (and me by proxy), they will realize the correction is down out of love and concern for their greater well being, rather than their immediate satisfaction. Please God, let it be so.
***Its unfortunate in our society I feel a need to caveat this post by saying all discipline is delivered in a calm, loving way… yes there is still some screaming and fit throwing, but at least
90%, 75% of the time its only the kids throwing the fit…. The other 25% of the time, I throw a seperate fit to God asking how long this ‘phase’ is going to last :)***