Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's hard to watch our kids learn tough lessons

I had taken the kids to the pool a short time ago, my two and their cousin.

The girls took a small blow-up beach ball that my son had abandoned about a half hour earlier. Soon they returned complaining of my son's behavior upon discovering that the girls had "his" ball. I agreed his behavior and reaction was inappropriate and could quite possibly could get him kicked out of the pool.

Carrying the ball he joined the girls and I. Anger sparked in his eyes ans he complained loudly that they had taken his ball without asking. Big sister often tries to "help" me discipline him so, I pulled out another beach ball from the beach bag. I handed it to my daughter and instructed the girls to go play.

IF I had thought I had established world peace I would have been sadly mistaken. This I knew as soon as my son proclaimed that that ball was his too!

"They belong only to you?" I asked, wishing I could remember how those balls had come to live in our beach bag.

In one breath he informed me angrily that they were and that long ago he had made a decision. His face was red, his words bitter. The decision he had made was to NEVER, EVER, EVER share anything with his sister EVER again! He's mad that she takes his things without asking for permission, and he has a point, it happens a lot.

"That was very wrong of her," I empathized. "When we get home we'll all sit down together and work this out. Meanwhile maybe you can share your ball with the girls and join in the game they are playing."

"No. She can't play with my ball, that's her consequence." It was about this time that the girls returned the ball to the beach bag and ran off to play in the lazy pool. As they ran off, my sons eyes filled with tears and his lip quivered. "Now they will NEVER play with me. They'll only play with each other for the rest of the day!"

I tried to explain that he had made it so. We don't usually pick friends to play with that are mean, selfish and angry. Others don't like to be hit either.

"Well, I'm not changing my mind!" he declared angrily and stomped off.

As I watched him leave, I was hit with compassion for that angry boy. I obviously have a few morals to teach him but, what affected me most was the pattern I saw.

We all sin, but sometimes we refuse to be humbled by the natural consequences that follow. With tears and anger he acknowledged that he had "burned his bridge" in having playmates at the pool. Did this pain and suffering bring about sorrow and repentance? No, his pride burned brightly and he was angrier still. It was hard to watch.

As he stomped away alone, I wished he had only allowed himself to consider for a moment that he might be in the wrong. If only he had softened his heart and thought through his choices. He assumed his decision to not share was bringing him protection of his belongings and would therefore bring him joy. It really brought him pain and unhappiness as all sin does.

My heart ached for my little boy who left to suffer his own natural consequences. It's hard to watch sometimes, but I hope to help him learn this lesson long before the sins bring consequences that are harder to bare.

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