Sometimes in the process of disciplining their children, otherwise sane and sensible parents suddenly lose their grip on reality.
Sixth grade Kati had a moment of weakness during a math test; she peeked at her neighbor’s paper to see problem number twelve. She had never cheated before, and on her first attempt to cheat, she got caught. Her dad wanted to come to the school, so the three of us met in my office. She admitted her wrong, and sat with her head down. Dad announced that she would not spend the weekend with her friend Megan. A tear ran down her cheek. Obviously he had hit home. Then he went on: “and you are off the softball team, and you are out of the class play, and you probably won’t get to go to camp this summer.”
Whoa! Dad. I think you made your point (more…)
Patricia and I looked at one another and asked, “What are we doing wrong?” I know what some of you are thinking: Six kids within ten years was the mistake! But that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that they were bickering. They were obeying very slowly and with some pretty sorry attitudes. They were not putting their things away, they were not pleasant to be around. The list could probably go a little longer.
This was just not our vision of a happy family, (more…)
Throwing rocks at puppies is probably not a good idea. Throwing rocks at puppies when you are standing by a large window is definitely not a good idea. I looked up at the window and surveyed the damage. It didn’t shatter the glass, only made a rock-sized hole. Oh, yeah, and a noise. Oh, and one more thing: my mom was in that room.
So I did what any guilty, rock-throwing, panicking eight-year-old would do. I ran. That was mistake number one. I ran to the back corner of the house, took a hard right, to the front corner, and then headed straight for the front door.
By this time I had a plan: get inside the house so quickly that my mom would not suspect that I had anything to do with the broken window. That was mistake number two. If she had been eight years old like me, I probably could have fooled her. But she wasn’t eight, she was . . . older . . . and smarter. Somehow she knew that I was coming in the front door and there she was, drying a plate, and looking me over.
She asked, “What was that noise?”
Looking as innocent as any guilty, rock-throwing, panicking, panting eight year old could, I remembered George Washington and the cherry tree. George told his dad the truth and things worked out. But I was no George Washington, and this was not my dad. So I decided to try a different strategy–I wiggled around the question. “What noise?” I asked. Mistake number three.
She didn’t take the bait. She simply said, “Go sit on the couch and wait for your daddy to come home.” No pirate walking the plank could have felt more dread than I did. I walked to the couch and sat down, knowing it would be the last time I might sit down for a while. I said nothing. I sat in silence. I aged ten years in that few minutes. In my own little mind, I was spanked a thousand times. I thought, I prayed.
Then I heard the car coming down the driveway, gravel crunching under the tires. I heard dad shut the car door. I heard his footfalls on the steps, and then he entered the house.
The spirit of George Washington came upon me, and I threw myself on the mercy of the court, crying and confessing in a torrent of words and tears all mixed in with snuffles and sobs, “Puppies . . . rock . . . window . . . scared . . . ran . . . mom . . . couch. I’m sorry; don’t spank me.”
Surprisingly, he didn’t . . . spank me, that is. He listened, he understood. He called it an accident.
He was just.
I loved him; I respected him.
Mike Stoops, my next door neighbor, had a beautiful cocker spaniel named Sally. When Sally had a litter of pups, Mike and I could not wait to hold them and play with them. I remember lying on the ground with those puppies jumping all over us, yapping and yipping, licking and nibbling our ears and faces as our giggles bubbled uncontrollably from way down deep in our carefree childhood hearts. There is something almost magical about eight-year-old boys and puppies. (more…)
Not long ago, I sat in church and noticed a young visiting couple having difficulty with their little one. As I watched, the young mother got up once during the worship, once during the announcements, and once during the message—three times— to take her little troublemaker out. Meanwhile, the dad sat there and did nothing. He was passive.
It reminded me of Adam in the garden when Eve was being tempted by the serpent. Eve discussed, listened, and ate. Then she gave the fruit to Adam “who was with her.” He had been there the whole time and done nothing. He had been passive. His passivity did not benefit his offspring. (more…)