Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where have all the manners gone?

As A gets older and we are out and about more and interacting with other kids (and their parents), I am noticing that there is something missing in the world today..... a little thing called MANNERS!!!

We had an almost-incident at the park yesterday. I say "almost" because I didn't actually confront the dad of the 5 year old boy that was bullying my almost 2 year old son. Before you commend me for taking the high road - don't. This has nothing to do with my self control, decision to show this man the love of Christ, or desire to bridle my tongue. This is purely a result of this daddy getting out of my line of fire before I could unleash the wrath of a "mother whose child has been wronged" on him.

Now, am I proud of that fact? NO. I'll come back to the spiritual implications in a minute.

In public settings, such as parks, where there are lots of kids around, my general rule of thumb is to allow one grace "offense" before confronting a parent. Now, I'm not talking about kids not paying attetion and running into my child and knocking him down or stealing a toy, etc. I'm talking about the willful, intentional pushing or other form of bullying my child that can cause physical harm. I do know that kids will be kids and you have to deal with those things. I also know that I wear my heart on my sleeve and, therefore, am prone to over-react in any given situation. When you add my child to the mix, multiply that by 1000 times. I lose all logic and reasoning and only see that my child has been wronged. So, to make sure I am not over-reacting, I allow 1 grace offense. How charitable of me, I know (sarcasm). If the behavior continues, then I will confront the parent.

Yesterday when we were at the park, this 5 year old little boy ran up to A and shoved him. This was not an accident of any sort. The kid ran up and pushed him. A stumbled around, but I was able to grab him before he fell. I am one of those parents that actually watch their kids at the park so I was nearby. The dad of the bully, who was standing right there when the whole thing went down, just said, "Now, Now... we don't push little kids." Luckily A has thicker skin than his mama and ran along unscathed.

I, however, thought to myself, "Strike One," and this kid immediately went under my mama microscope.

Now, call me crazy, but I think the dad should have made the boy apologize to A. That's what my mom would have done when I was little and what I would do if A did that to another child. I don't think I would have been nearly as upset if the dad acted remotely remorseful. I do understand that kids unexpiclably hit, push, pull hair etc. A has done it to other children. Kids will be kids and its not the children that I am upset with. Its the parents and their response in these situations that kill me!

Anyway, this child continued to push A (and other kids) out of his way on the stairs to slide, would run up the slide as these little ones were coming down the slide, etc. So I guess I actually gave him more than 1 grace offense :) I think the dad realized I was about to blow because he grabbed his son and took him to the other end of the park to let him run around.

Now, there is nothing wrong with a mamma being angered by her child done wrong. Its how we deal with that anger. Mommies from the beginning of time have experienced these emotions. In Genesis 21:8-10, Sarah was so angered by Ishmael scoffing at Isaac that she cast him out of the land!!!!

My conflict is "How do I respond to these situations while living out the word in front of my child?" Clearly, my inward fury did not come out yesterday, but it could have and probably would have if that dad did not make his exit when he did. The bible says, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man" Matthew 15:18.

I'm reading a book, "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. He talks about disciplining your children according to scripture and scripture alone. He also talks about dealing with bullies and how the bible says to bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, to him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer him the other (Luke 6:27-36). Now obviously Jesus does not want me to stand back and watch someone physically harm my child and do nothing about it, but where is balance? I"m struggling to find the balance people!!!!

I want nothing more than to live out the word in every aspect of my life. Afterall, Jesus is the word.

Please tell me how you deal with these situations!

I am like a mamma bear. I ROAR. Jesus.... there is still a lot of work to be done in me... but I guess you knew that already :)