I read (and commented on) a very interesting, thought-provoking, and encouraging post about The Choice to Be Unpopular at The Diaper Diaries. It rolled around in my head, and splashed down into my heart, quite often yesterday.
Our sweet Jet, who will be six in just a few short months, has been having a rough time of it. He’s been making some poor choices about what to do when I ask him to do something. He knows perfectly well (and can tell me quite clearly) exactly what he’s supposed to do. In the heat of the moment, however, it all blows apart inside his head. All that energy from the explosion expresses itself as yelling, foot-stomping, running away and, ultimately, tears.
Paul lamented his own choices many, many years ago:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)
I can see this disconnect written all over Jet’s sweet, angry, tear-stained face as he sits in time-out, struggling to do what he knows is right. He doesn’t want to sit there, but he absolutely knows that he has to. I know that, at five years old, he may only be doing it out of fear of the consequences. But it’s our job as his parents to keep him safe, to be sure he does what he’s supposed to do, even if it’s out of that fear, until he can do the right thing for the right reasons.
My heart twists to see him making choices that he knows perfectly well are the wrong ones. It hurts me to know that he won’t like what’s coming, be it a time-out or loss of privileges. At the same time, though, I know I will stand strong and enforce the boundaries that have been set for him.
As written at The Diaper Diaries, I have no desire for Jet to grow up thinking I’m his friend. Someday, yes, it would be nice, when he becomes a responsible adult. At this age, though, friends can be fun, and can be confidantes. Friends can also be fair-weather. Their young choices may not always be right.
As his Mommy, though, one of my deepest longings is for him to know that I love him more than anyone else on this planet and only want what’s best for his sweet self, every single day of his life. That means making absolutely sure he understands the difference between wrong and right, and makes choices accordingly. Kids thrive on structure and boundaries (and Jet more than most). Though their words and actions may seem to indicate otherwise, deep down, they receive discipline as love. As he pushes against the boundaries we’ve set, he needs to know that we will meet him just on the other side of that line so that we can push him right back to safety.