Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On finding Grace in disappointment...

I remember Mama’s red eyes well.  She’d been crying and I could feel the hurt and disappointment in the air.

One of my brothers had been caught with something in his room.  Obviously something he wasn’t supposed to have, but I didn’t yet know what.

Through overheard conversations and the events to come, I eventually learned that he’d taken something from the grocery store without paying for it.

Mama made him take back those empty wrappers from the candy bars he’d eaten and talk to the manager at the store.

I have always thought my Mom made good parenting decisions. Ok, well, maybe not as a child, but as an adult, I have appreciated the lessons I learned from her.
It’s funny how you always think, “when I become a Mom, I’m gonna do this like Mom did, but not that.” {Sorry, Mom!}

Now that I’m a parent, it’s not uncommon to find myself wondering what Mom would do in certain situations.  Unfortunately, it’s not always convenient to call her and ask and, many times, the decision or discipline has to be made on the spot.

So when I realized earlier this week that one of my kids was a thief, I immediately thought back to what Mom did all those years ago.
Last Friday, I had to go clothing and shoe shopping for the trip I left for today.  The kids were relatively well behaved, but of course, always ask for things: “Mommy, can I get this? Mommy, can we get that? Mommy, what’s this? Can I have one?”

I get tired of answering those questions and, quite honestly, I get tired of saying “no.”  Checkout stands are the worst! This is where they put the little trinkets and “add-ons” that they KNOW children especially will want.

It was one of these tiny trinkets (the kind that cost .99¢) that ended up in my washing machine basin on Monday night.
As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was and where it came from.  I knew I didn’t buy it and I knew one of my children took it.
As it turns out, another toy went through the wash too.
On Tuesday morning, both kids were sitting on the couch and I told them to stay there: I wanted to talk to them.  I went the to the laundry room to retrieve the toy and the stolen item and came back with one in each hand.

As I held the toy out, I asked, “Who does this belong to?” Sweetpea was quick to respond – “that’s mine!” So I gave it to her and reminded her to check her pockets before adding clothes to the laundry pile.
Then I opened my hand to reveal the stolen trinket and asked who it belonged to.
My son, 6, immediately said, “oh, that’s that thing from that store and Sweetpea stole it!”
I have to confess; I thought HE was the one who took it!

After all, he was the one who asked for it the most in the store. So I thought for sure, he was saying that to deflect that fact that he was the culprit.
I waited patiently for someone to confess.
I watched their faces and tried to read what they were thinking.
Buddy was already crying and insisting it wasn’t him. I didn’t know if I could believe him or not.

And to my surprise and dismay, Sweetpea confessed it was she who took it.
She claimed she didn’t take it off the counter. Rather, that she found it on the floor and put it in her pocket.

I asked her if it was hers.  I asked if she paid for it.  I asked who it belonged to and then I asked what we should do with it.
Luckily for her, she replied that we should take it back {that was my plan anyway}.

Regardless of where she found it, or how small it was, I know she heard me tell Buddy to put it (the same trinket) back.  And, as her Dad said, she wouldn’t have been so upset about it, if she hadn’t already known it was wrong.

The whole process was quite possibly more painful for me than for her.  In her case, the manager she spoke with was very lenient and thanked her for “doing the right thing and bringing it back.” I made sure she knew that it could’ve gone much differently.
While I  could have chosen NOT to go through with taking it back, I learned a long time ago not to let MY embarrassment affect my parenting decisions.  If I do that, I’m not making the best choice for my children.  In the long run, I want them to learn a lesson and grow up to be responsible citizens, not  do them a disservice to protect my own ego.

I want them to know the line between wrong and right isn’t blurred – it’s definite.

For me, as a Mom, I find the line between discipline and grace much harder to discern.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post, Leslie! It can be so hard to not let our embarrassment affect our parenting decisions. And even harder to find the line between discipline and grace. You are a great Mom with great kids. Keep making the hard decisions and they will only benefit from it. This parenting thing isn't easy but God will equip us if our focus is to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And I know yours is. {{Hugs}} to you today, sweet friend!