Who every wants to drop the ball?
But I definitely dropped it. It was months ago when it was still warm and sunny out.
What did I do?
I lost my cool with my son. Not terribly. It sounds foolish when I retell it, but I cried because he was late for soccer camp.
(Please don’t take this to be a condemnation of crying in front of your children. You had to be there. It wasn’t a ‘tear-worthy’ problem.)
In my defense, it was the second day in a row that he had arrived when the morning meeting was already underway. From the moment he got up, I had to
hound encourage him over and over, to stay on task.
For me, it made no difference that he was only two minutes late. Or that he wasn’t the last camper to arrive.
“Get your lunch together.”
“Shin pads and socks, please.”
“Your chickens are waiting for you to care for them, bud.”
“Have you brushed your teeth? No? Brush quickly and put your cleats on in the car!”
I became noticeably upset just before he jumped out of the car with strict instructions to “run quickly to show them that you care that you’re behind”.
“These coaches are working hard to teach you. Arriving late is disrespectful.”
Hopefully, he learned the importance of being on time. But I have a sneaking suspicion that he may have learned something else. Something I learned long ago that I’m trying to unlearn now.
I shouldn’t be late/rude/loud because it makes adults lose their cool
Here’s what’s wrong with that thinking:
1. My son should never have control of my behaviour
He could learn that my calm behaviour is connected to his ‘right behaviour’. That, if he doesn’t do the right thing, I will start crying at him. When, what he should be learning is that his bad behaviour produces natural consequences. (And, no, a freaky-deaky mom is not a natural consequence.)
A true natural consequence is sitting on the bench at soccer if he arrives late.
2. More natural consequences: His being on time shouldn’t have anything to do with me
If the negative aspect of being late is attached to me, he has no long term reason to be on time. Rough math says I’m going to ‘be there’ about 13% of his life. I want him to learn for the other 87%.
3. Managing the behaviour of others doesn’t honour them
It’s not honouring to have another person’s reaction as a major driver for our behaviour. It’s dysfunctional. And dysfunction is tiring. God made us to seek him as our behavioural driver; to respond to his approval and his ways. If we do that, we’re automatically going to be honouring others.
The Good News
I would have to overreact constantly for him to take these specifics to heart. And ultimately, my kids and God will determine what is in their hearts anyway. That’s good news.
More good news is that I gathered myself and apologized at lunch. And, he’s human and will have to know how to deal when he messes up and over-reacts. Hopefully, he saw how it’s done. (Sometimes, he gets a first hand view of me whistling and looking the other way when I mess up.)
So, that’s good news for him. And, I guess just the fact that I’m reflecting on it is good news for me.
In the end, lots of good came of the incident; some for me and some for him.
For him, he really did get to see that being late has negative consequences because his coach did sit him out. Love the coach. But he also got to see that apologies are in order, even from Mom, when she loses her cool.
As for me, I was humbled by the value statement that I obviously attached to my being on time. I was, effectively, teaching Shea to have the same belief by over reacting to being late. So, while being late is negative, I can see that my focus needs to shift back to where my worth really comes from.
And, if God is bigger than all my examples, even negative ones, then I want my kids seeing the example of a mom who knows who she belongs to and that she is valuable. Even when she is crying about being late for soccer camp.
“Lord, please help my children learn to depend on you, despite the spotty, often wrong example they have in me.”
In fact, I’ll take a late-for-soccer kid who depends on God over a doesn’t-need-God but always on time kid any day. Could someone just remind me of that next time he’s running behind?