Recently the kids and I had a day that seemed more full of discipline and punishment than usual. It was the second day of Doug’s five-day trip to Birmingham, AL, for M-Fuge. Everything had been going much more smoothly than his previous long trip, but evidently there was still that underlying tension that caused some issues.
All three of the kids had the issues. Angela once again didn’t follow through with a responsibility we had discussed many times. So, restrictions were put in place. Olivia was more self-centered than usual, leading to a pretty vengeful chain of events between herself and her sister – and a pretty sad evening for everyone.
But, Steven’s was the one that grabbed my heart the most. His happened first – pretty early in the day. At his age, his chore list is much more limited than that of his sisters. But, there are still things expected of him. On a daily basis, he is expected to get dressed before breakfast. After breakfast is over, he is expected to make sure his bed is made and his pajamas and any leftover clothes from the day before are put away. Then he can play. It’s a morning routine, one of which he is well aware.
On this particular morning, Steven was pretty intent on getting to his “new” Leap Pad. A friend from church had been cleaning out his room the week before. Coming across the Leap Pad, he thought Steven might enjoy it. So, he passed it on to him. Sure enough, Steven had been glued to his new toy for two days. He loved it! And, he couldn’t wait to get right back to it at every opportunity.
The rest of us were well into our chores that morning, and I could hear Steven playing happily with the Leap Pad. I was not at all displeased with the arrangement because it meant he was entertained while the rest of us completed our chores. The only snag was that Olivia was supposed to be sweeping that side of the house, and his floor was rather cluttered. So, I walked into his room to tell him to pick his train set off the floor so Olivia could sweep. Train tracks were not the only things that greeted me as I walked in. Clothes from yesterday, pajamas, and a wet pull-up were also scattered across the floor – and his bed was completely unmade.
Calmly I reached down and closed the Leap Pad, picked it up, and carried it out of the room. I came back to talk to Steven about his chores and to tell him that, because the Leap Pad had kept him from doing his daily chores that morning, he wouldn’t get the Leap Pad back until after naptime that afternoon. Oh, his little heart was crushed! It was all I could do to stick to my guns! Fortunately, it was only until after naptime. We could make it that long!
As I turned to leave the room, I heard his voice. It sounded so small I couldn’t make out what he was saying, so I asked him to repeat himself.
“Can I have a hug and a kiss?” he asked tearfully, with a pleading look on his face.
My heart melted as I scooped my big boy up for a huge hug and kiss and a few snuggles.
Do I ever do that with my Savior when He disciplines me? Do I, through my tears of hurt, ask for some time in His lap? Or do I tend to just distance myself for a while? Not an “I don’t want to be with you” distancing, but more of a shame distancing. A “let’s let this blow over and then we’ll come back to interacting” kind of distancing. If I am honest, the latter is true of me. I don’t seek His arms. I don’t seek His comfort. I just want to get my lesson learned and move on. But, He’s more than ready to give the comfort.
Steven seems to understand the concept of discipline at his tender age more than I ever have in my entire life. As long as I discipline out of love instead of anger, he immediately does what he can to make sure the relationship stays right.
May my heart hunger for the same thing. I know one thing for sure – if I ask for a hug, my Father will be even more enthusiastic about giving it than I was about scooping up my son. And that makes my heart sing!