My mom took the kids and me to Chick-fil-A last week. After consuming large quantities of chicken and fruit cups, we made our way into the playroom for a whopping good time that turned into a nightmare. There were three siblings in there with mine. Two boys and a girl whose parents sat outside not supervising their children and enjoying their milkshakes. I felt the rush of anger and self-righteousness as I watched their kids disobey every rule posted. Climbing where they shouldn’t be climbing, running, etc. It got worse when they began pushing, hitting, pinching, and screaming.
At one point I said to one boy who had brought Micah to tears by cracking him on the head, “Please don’t hit.”
His response? “I’ll hit him if I want to.”
Ooooooh. Mamma Bear got mad. Real mad. Choking back rage, I said sweetly (through gritted teeth), “Please do not hit MY children.”
He stopped hitting, but proceeded to block them from coming down the slide. His sister, on the other hand, decided to take a cue from her brothers and hit Audrey who looked up, confusion passing over her features. Once the shock and pain set in, the screaming commenced as well.
It got worse, and my frustration level grew to epic proportions. I’m gonna go give those parents a piece of my mind. I thought. Thank the Lord He kept me from acting impulsively, because there’s no telling what I would have said.
My kids finally begged to go elsewhere, so we packed up to go play with the trains at Barnes & Noble. As we were getting their shoes on, the one boy said, “Good. You’re leaving. Then we’ll have nobody to boss us.”
Oooooooh. I could feel the acidic taste of rage rising in my throat. I fumed inwardly, as my self-righteousness grew to join my frustration level in its epic proportions. I grumbled inwardly at those parents. Those kids were awful, horrible little beasts. Blah, blah, blah.
We were at Barnes & Noble 15 minutes, when my children began to implode. Grabbing trains from each other, pushing each other if they crossed the line into “my space”, overreacting and melting down… my balloon of pride began to deflate rapidly. We left B & N to head home, and one of my sons and I had a confrontation culminating in him sitting in a hard chair in the kitchen until he was ready to obey me. He was angry. My, was he angry! And like me, in his anger, he speaks without thinking. Hard words. Hurtful words. “Mommy, I don’t ever want to play with you ever again. Mommy, I don’t love you!”
I whirled and looked at that little face. The furrowed brow. The crossed arms. The image of those children and parents at Chick-fil-A floated before me. The pride at how I’m a much better parent than them had disappeared when I carried screaming children from B & N. Instead I felt pain… the pain of children whose parents don’t love them enough to train and discipline them. Realizing that it’s the ones that are most disruptive and disobedient that often need the most love. The humility of realizing that I don’t have all the answers when it comes to parenting even when I think I do.
I choked back the words I wanted to say, and I knelt next to him, tears stinging my eyes, feeling the pain as his words pricked my heart. “You know what, buddy? I love you, and nothing you say or do will ever change that.” He pushed me away weakly, but his head bowed. I reached out and hugged him, holding his stiff body in my arms. Seconds later he melted, arms wrapped tightly around me, head buried in my shoulder. We talked about his anger and his words. Within moments he was ready to obey, apologize, and move on.
And me? Well, I couldn’t get my kids in bed fast enough so we could move on to a new day. I was exhausted and stuffed with the hefty slice of humble pie I had just been served.
Leave a Reply