Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cease Fire... Again!

So a few days ago I accidentally clicked the 'publish' button instead of the 'save' button, publicizing my mid-afternoon notes for a post I might have written later in the evening. Sorry to those who read this rather strange entry! I get embarrassed easily, which is a wonder since I do it to myself so frequently.

I was going to post a little bit on my afternoon observations, and the post was going to be entitled "Cease Fire" after hearing my boys call out those words one too many times. They had been shooting at a target in the backyard; if someone shouts "Cease fire!" the others need to put down their guns. It's for safety, obviously. One boy, however, kept shouting it out so he could walk up to the target, check out his shot, and probably boast about his stellar aim. The other boys were fed up, which led to irritated words, bad attitudes, and arguments. I tried to work it out, but the sour attitudes prevailed.

Sometimes we can work things out, but other times my parenting skills come to an end. I can't, after all, change hearts. So when I have no clue what to do, I just do something. I called a cease fire, an end to their play. The boys all spread out: one smugly went on to other play, another boy angrily stormed to the other end of the yard, and the other one went to his room to sulk. Clearly, my cease fire wasn't addressing the real issue either.

This is when a parenting manual would be nice! Both the consequence and correction (reminders about what the Bible instructs us) were completely ineffective, but leaving them to stew in their own rottenness was no good either. Still not knowing what to do, I put them to work. At first I had them each do their own thing since they couldn't handle being together, but eventually I saw the anger erode. They began to ask about shooting again, trying to convince me they could handle it. Knowing they were still not quite ready, I asked them to work together to gather extra brick from one side of the house, carry them to where one of our water spigot creates a muddy puddle, and build a little base and walkway behind the hedge. They did this together with much enthusiasm, proving that they were ready to discuss the previous incident.

But I wanted them to work out the issue, not me. Of course one boy in particular was ready to take charge. He was going to lay down the rules. Lots and lots of rules. The other two, I could see, were already resenting all the rules along with the rule maker...

That's when I was able to intervene and provide some help. I reminded them that fights always happen when there is selfishness. Always. I reminded them that rules don't ever change the heart. Ever. No matter how many rules they had, or how smart their rules were, there would be fights. Guaranteed. I recommended one rule only: No Selfishness! If they each worked at fighting their OWN selfishness, things would go pretty well. On the other hand, there were no rules against forgiveness, kindness, patience, love... I reminded them there is no law against these things (Gal. 5:22-23).

By God's grace, they seemed to have learned something that afternoon. It wasn't a new lesson to them, but one they need to learn and relearn. And as for parenting, it's not because I always know what to do, it's because God sometimes uses me despite me. Grace again.


So that's about what I was going to say if I had taken the time to write later that evening, perhaps with a little more emphasis on teaching principle over rule. 

But unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. Late that night, after the lights were turned off in my bedroom and I was moving toward my bed in the dark, a little shimmer of light caught my eye. Thinking there was a really cool spider web shining in the moonlight, I moved  in close to the French door leading to our deck only to discover a glass window pane was shattered.

I guess someone aimed at a bird instead of the target... Maybe we did need more rules after all.  :/

Jon has called an indefinite cease fire.


1 comment:

  1. We currently have the same set up in our yard...random pieces of wood and foam to be shot at. So funny! Wish these guys could all play together like the old days! Sorry about the window though...


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