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Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

So the day that I posted about how Ava shares her candy, which I realize was a while ago now, Ava and I had a little candy incident. I was going to write this addendum earlier, but then I got sick. Then Ava got sick. And then Nate got sick. Obviously, sharing runs in the family.

To be honest, I feel like there is a huge neon sign outside our door flashing, “vacancy” to each and every virus that has come into our neighborhood this winter. In the battle between vitamins and flu vaccines, vitamins are sorely losing. On the bright side, there are puddles on our streets again, and soon the sun will melt away these insidious colds that have plagued us since the first freeze in November.

We are on the mend. Nate is back at work, Ava is in preschool, and our home is no longer raining tissues and throat drops, so now I can tell you that back when I was about to tell you all about Ava and her candy benevolence, Ava was being naughty. It was one of those rare days when she actually had a sucker in her mouth. And to tell you the truth, I felt a little funny pushing publish on a post about her lack of candy at the very moment that she was savoring a lollipop.

She crawled up next to me and started to kick my laptop. Now granted, I’m rarely on my laptop when I’m with her and I never write when she is awake or around. For one, I stay at home to be with her, and two, she wouldn’t let me. So on this particular day, I was trying to quickly read over the post that I had written late the previous night, before sending it out into the big, wide world.

Now, in my case, this is quite a worthless endeavor, as I cannot see any mistakes in my own writing until at least four days after I have written it. My brain simply refuses to acknowledge what my eyes see. In some bizarre power play that continues to mystify me, my brain literally takes over and confesses to see what is truly not there. People, in my last post, I had described Ava’s new Norwegian fairy friend’s previous costume as a “pink leopard customer.” For two days, it said, “leopard customer” and no one said a peep. Clearly, I meant costume and clearly my confounded brain was in auto-correct overdrive. But come on, leopard customer! Ugh. When I read my old posts I vacillate between hanging my head and laughing out loud. If nothing else, it keeps me humble. Humble and embarrassed.

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, Ava kicking the laptop. So there we were, I trying to post an essay about one of her beautiful qualities in the face of sugar depravity and she was trying to get my attention while sucking on a sugar stick. Could we have more irony?

I told her to stop, and that I was writing a beautiful story about her. I told her that I was almost finished and then I would read it to her. She swung her legs up and crashed them down on my keyboard, splattering letters all over my freshly written story. With one hand, I pushed her legs off the laptop and with the other I reached over and pulled the sucker right out of her mouth.

She was horrified.

“Mama, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for kicking the computer. If I’m a good girl again, can I have it back?”

“No, Ava, you can’t have your sucker back.”

“Mama,” she asked with tears closing in on her blue eyes, “Mama, can we put it in a baggie and then if I’m good again, can I have it later?”

Today, sitting in my warm cozy coffee shop, sipping Monk’s brew tea and writing uninterrupted, I wish that I could tell you that I said, “yes” or at least that I took that time at that moment to talk about it with her. I didn’t. Her tears flowed freely down cheeks as she ran into her room.

Having no where to stick my sticky contraband, I placed the wand in between my teeth and clicked on the publish button. I sat there trying to comprehend all the irony of all that had just occurred: my tribute to her, my enjoyment of her sweet sharing spirit, my burden to teach her healthy eating habits, her disobedience, my reaction. Was my response wrong? Was my reaction tainted with a disappointment that she wasn’t sweet in every respect? Was I really responding to fact that I want her be perfect, maybe not forever, but at least for the space in which I write that she is good?

With the weight of these unanswered questions I walked toward the sobs that were besetting my small child. I found her sitting on her rocking chair hugging Bubba and her favorite blankie. I knelt down to her eye level and before I could ask, “why are you crying?”, Ava answered.

“Mama, God doesn’t like it when you do that. Daddy doesn’t like it when you do that.”

“Do what, Ava?”

“Take my sucker. God doesn’t like it when you steal.”

“Ava, I didn’t steal your sucker.”

“Yes, you did. God doesn’t like when you do that.”

I scooped her up and sat down on her chair with her in my arm.

“Ava,” I said gently, “what did you do to Mama’s computer?”

“I kicked it.”

“Did I ask you to stop?”

“Yes.”

“What did you do?”

“I kicked it.”

“Why do you think that I took your sucker?”

“Cause I kicked your computer, but Mama, God doesn’t like it when you do that!” she repeated, erupting into a fresh set of tears. I kindly explained the result of disobedience and reality of consequences as I wiped away her tears. I filled her up with hugs as I attempted to talk away the injustice that we both felt. We left her room more cheerfully than we had entered it and continued our day of reading books, telling stories, and making more valentines, punctuated with lunch, snacks, and dinner. All in all, it was a good day. A happy day. A day that said amen to the cheerful giver post.

Since Nate had to work late that night, I was the one to read her bedtime Bible story. We snuggled up with Bubba in her big, blue rocking chair under her favorite blankie, and I read to her about Joseph and his brothers. The brothers had come back to Egypt to ask Joseph to forgive them for selling him into slavery. Joseph forgave them and saves them from starvation. At the end of the story, there are review questions and a prayer.

I prayed, “Dear Father, please forgive me for not obeying you.” I pronounced my amen and opened my eyes to find a familiar pink mouth rounded in a great big “O” that matched her similarly widened eyes.

“It’s cause you stole my sucker, isn’t it?”

…..

Ahh, the simplicity of her faith and understanding is both confounding and convicting. She understood that morning that there was a consequence for her actions, but that consequence came tainted with irritation and frustration. While God is always just, I am as fallible as she. So yes, Ava, forgive me for snatching your sucker without an explanation. Forgive me, that my actions are not always pure. You felt it in your being and you were right, “God doesn’t like it when I do that.” Ava sweet, I love you and want you to learn how to obey. With His help, I will try to correct you in love and not as a killjoy.

Before all of you start scrambling for an envelope and stuffing it with suckers to send our way, remember, today is Thursday. In a few minutes, I’m picking her up from preschool and we are heading to the bank to get a shiny, new sucker.

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