I think I may have actually got it right with my daughter yesterday. Mairin (age 5) was home from school sick. She was busy playing dress up and I was getting some things ready for lunch. I walked into the living room and she was about to cut the ankle ties from one of her pretend ballet shoes because she couldn’t get it to tie correctly. I stopped her and showed her another way to tie the shoe, bringing a smile. I asked if she wanted me to tie her other shoe, but she said no, holding it behind her back….somewhat suspiciously. I asked again, she said no again, so I went back to the kitchen.
She then came into the kitchen to show me that she had put her other shoe on herself. “Can you help me tie this one?, she asked. I bent over to tie the shoe and the ribbon came off on my hand. “I cut it off, but I glued it back on.” Ummm, well obviously you DIDN’T glue it back on, because it is in my hand. I could feel the anger rising up in me. First, because she had cut apart her shoe. Marin tends to make permanent decisions like this on the spot. Second, she had hidden the fact that she had done this when I asked her.
So here I am, doubly angry at my daughter. I say something along the lines of, “Mairin, you CAN’T cut up your things. You’ve ruined your shoe. The tie doesn’t work anymore. I can’t fix this for you. Why do you do this to your things?” And I’m wondering, what else do I say, what do I do? And she looks at me with these sad eyes. Not, “I’ve been caught” eyes, but sad. Sad for disappointing me. Wondering what I will do in response.
And I realize, what else do I need to say? She knows she messed up her shoe – why tell her again? Is heaing condemnation on her going to change her bahoavior, or just make her feel bad about herself and further from me? And actually, yes, I can (maybe) fix this. So I stopped myself. I had her give me her shoe. I went and got our sewing kit. I toid her that I thought I could fix it, sat down next to her, and started sewing. [note: I did a bit of needlepoint as an adolescent - dont ask]. As I did, we talked, she organized some of her things, and I fixed her shoe.
Neither of us left the scene angry at the other. When I finished, she said, “thank you daddy,” and gave me a hug. I helped her put on and tie her shoe.
This is not meant as a yeah me. It’s much more of a PRAISE GOD I think I got it right. And as much as it reflects what God is teaching me about parenting and expressing love, it has all the more to do with my understanding of His love for me. He does not condemn me, His beloved child. He does not heap shame on me when I do wrong. I don’t need to hide, or try to cover up my failing. He loves me and fixes it. And it makes me love Him all the more.
May I know this in my heart, believe it to be true for me, and share this same love with others. May we all….