|Posted by Mary Webb on May 13, 2015 at 4:20 PM|
Yesterday, the kids bickered in the car the whole ride home. Considering we live blocks from school, this shouldn't have been a huge deal. Except that we had several errands to run. Using the quiet voice instead of yelling wasn't working for me until I used it to say, "Nobody needs to worry about asking me for dessert tonight."
Then, there was silence. And, I thought the issue had resolved itself.
But, then later while we were working on his Lego car, Jory ratted Quentin out about taking a piece of candy when he was "cleaning out" the candy jar. He fessed up, and I immediately collected back the work pay and extra change I gave him for his field trip today. He went to bed in tears, but not before my mother called and happened to hear the drama. When I told her what happened, she said, "Ohhhhh, Mary! That was too hard."
And, so a new round of dissension I feel about raising my children as it relates to punishments was set off. On the one hand, I'm always thinking ahead to the future and thinking how unpleasant, to say the very least, visiting each or both of them behind a plate glass or in a grassy cemetery would be. In those cases, I'm about laying down the law (more like slamming it) and nipping stuff in the bud. On the other hand, I also think down the line to when they may move away from home and never call, visit or write because I was stifling when they were growing up. In these cases, I'm sure I end up acting like a pansy and giving in when I shouldn't. Disclaimer: This very rarely happens, the giving in part, that is.
Thankfully, I know the Lord, and He hears my cry, which is generally that I do the right thing by Quentin and Jory, making as few mistakes as possible. He generally answers by directing my path to an answer or encouragement or a better idea or my senses, sometimes all of the above.
The first thing I decided this morning was to give Quentin back his work pay. I've never done something wrong at work and had a boss make me turn over any previously earned funds. So, the punishment wasn't exactly fitting the crime here.
A little later, someone shared Benjamin Watson's (he is as wise as he is fine) FB post about DeflateGate (of which I am thrilled about the outcome). What Mr. Watson had to say was less about football and more about life itself. He starts with an old adage his father shared with him: "Sin takes you further than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay." In essence, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and their gang might have taken just a little peek into their opponents locker rooms but then that led to them taking just a little bit of air out of balls in an effort to go to the SuperBowl, but in the long run, it's cost them their quarterback's four-game suspension, a million dollar fine and two first-round draft picks.
Watson went on to say that, no matter how small we think the sin we commit is, it results in us losing our total protection from God in that event. "Even the most 'innocent' diversion can have lasting and devastating consequences that not only effect the transgressor but those he or she is in a relationship with," he wrote. For example, when his children "innocently" jump on the couch when they know they're not supposed to, their disobedience removes them from his protection. So if they hurt themselves, that's a "natural consequence that they must endure because they have stepped out from under his covering of protection for them."
Then, he went Bible on us. Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death."
Quentin wrinkled his nose up in confusion and asked, "What are wages?"
"You know how you earn money for your work pay? Well, those are wages. What you earn or your payment is wages."
Then, I went metaphor on him. That little piece of candy that he took when he knew he wasn't supposed to have dessert may have seem like such a small thing to him, probably something I wouldn't have noticed if Jory hadn't wanted to get him in trouble. And, to be honest, there are worse things he could do, for sure. The problem is, like Watson so eloquently pointed out, while we may rate our transgressions, we can't do the same with the consequences; we can't say I did 10 degrees of wrongs, so I'm going to get 10 degrees of right to make up for it. The truth is, we don't have any control over what the consequences may be. That means, the small thing we did could earn us a far stiffer penalty than we would mete out if it were left up to us. It's why I thought, during the funeral of those two boys I covered years ago, their death was such an unfair punishment for the casual joyride that ended their lives. The way I explained it to Quentin is, what if he had choked on that piece of candy? What if it had happened in his room where he's usually holed up? What if he couldn't make it to me in the front of the house for help? What if I took the quiet coming from his room as him being engrossed in his game or coloring? How would I feel cradling my deceased child in my arms over a piece of forbidden candy?
Would the candy be worth it? Things didn't go that far, but was it worth the money he lost in this situation?
It seemed like I was reaching him. But, I steeled myself for one of those justifications Quentin seems so apt to make. If it were something like "It was just a piece of candy...(Even though I'd already explained how it's not 'just a piece of candy'), Watson had me covered. He said there is no "entry level" to rule-breaking; either you're a cheater/thief/liar/etc., or you're not. Scripture says, "For the person who keeps all the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws."
Last night, Quentin went for his trusty finger-pointing. "Jory took one, too," he blabbed. She denied it and had not a mouthful of candy for me to consider.
"Right now, I'm addressing Quentin, and that's the person Quentin needs to be focused on."
Today, thanks to Mr. Watson, I'm even better prepared. "WE," he wrote, " are not each other's moral standard. Only God and His word have that distinction." So, Jory could have had a Brach's warehouse full of candy, and that would not detract from the fact that he had done wrong himself.
It was a hot day today, and I'm mindful that Quentin had less money than I wanted him to have, which means he had less opportunities to quench his thirst with a cool beverage at the zoo. Just another consequence. I suffer in knowing this, but I'm no longer feeling the anguish I felt when my mother told me I went overboard. (Besides this is Maw-Maw Nona speaking; if it were Mama Nona, who let many kids go thirsty in the summer because there was too much walking in and out, event though there wasn't any cool air to let out because the General wasn't putting on no AC, I would have been inclined to listen.)
I ended the conversation with Quentin with an acknowledgment of how much I love him no matter what. I think that's always the best note to end on. Mr. Watson must think the same, because he closed by saying, "...how much greater will God's grace and love remove our guilt and shame, give a new heart, a new vision and lift us to new heights if we, through the blood of His Son, turn from our wickedness and follow Him!"