Kev and I recently had to discipline our oldest son in a way that went way beyond the path we would have taken. Normally when we have to discipline Cooper we take away TV or Wii time, or ground him from his Papa….Silly I know, but he adores my dad, (my dad is hard not to love.)
This punishment was different, it was without a doubt the hardest thing we have ever had to do, but the lesson will not be forgotten. And as my friend Sara would say, “Comfort vs. Character.” And that is the goal, that Kevin and I shape Cooper’s character into something of substance.
Cooper turned seven in February, and for his party he wanted to go to this really nice indoor water park, so we told him he could invite two buddies from school and we would take him for the afternoon to swim. We had it all planned, I had talked to the mom’s and we made arrangements for the pick up/drop off times and all of the logistical elements that go into planning a kid party….I honestly think that parents should have to take a course or two in event planning and management, because WHOA, there are a ton of details that you have to finalize!
Well, the day before the party we were getting ready to go to the funeral home for the last time, to pick out Ireland’s headstone. I had asked Cooper to take his shoes (it’s winter here and therefore wet and snowy) off of the couch, he didn’t listen and when I grabbed his legs to put them on the floor, he took a swing at me.
NOW, before I go on, I want to make clear, that Cooper is a GREAT kid, he is not violent, he is not mean-spirited, he is a compassionate, loving, and high energy boy. But he was hurting, he was (and is) grieving the loss of a little sister, whom he adored, I know I’ve mentioned before how much he loved(s) her. Cooper is a protector, and a devoted “big brother.” He doesn’t take this roll lightly; this is the kid who got into a fist fight in the park last fall, when a bigger kid was beating up on his little brother. Now again, I know we are supposed to turn the other cheek, but I am a total work in progress, and I was SUPER proud of my kid for beating up the bully on the playground. (I am working on the “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” verse. Pray for me please.)
So when he swung at me, I was shocked. I couldn’t spank him, that would defeat the entire purpose, you swing at me, so I hit you? Nah, it doesn’t work that way [insert creative parenting here] so I called my husband and told him what happened, and we agreed that we needed to do something that he would remember, something that hurt.
So we took away his birthday party. That’s right we had to call all of the parents back and tell them that because of bad behavior the birthday was cancelled. Coop was broken, he already felt bad for swinging at me. I could see it in his face, in the seconds after he did it. But I couldn’t change the fact that it wasn’t ok. So we stuck to our guns and took away his much anticipated party.
I put on a good front, until bed-time. I got into bed and started crying, which eventually turned into sobbing, which eventually turned into me yelling at God. Again. Here is how that conversation went……
“God, I don’t get this? WHY am I a punishing a little kid who is hurting? YOU KNOW HE’S HURTING. I understand that I need him to realize that doing things like hitting his mom aren’t ok, but why does this have to be so hard? ”I don’t want to punish him when I feel like I am being PUNISHED. Is that how this goes? I step out of line and you take away the things that I love? My daughter, the baby that was looking forward to, the baby that I was hoping for?” God I don’t want to hurt him, because I know how much I am hurting, and it’s not fun.”
So after my wrestling match with God, he came out victorious……and I understood that this punishment was something necessary for Cooper’s growth, and necessary to help mold the person that Kevin and I want Cooper to become.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
So, as much fun as this wasn’t, I know in my heart of hearts that the discipline that comes from a God who loves us, isn’t to hurt us, but to shape us into people of substance, and character. So for today, I am trusting that God who created me, and loves me, is using this time of what I would call punishment, to transform me into something of value and worth. And I want to have value.
All my love,
Know that I love you, and I hope you understand that I want you to grow up to be a man of substance and worth, someone who is pleasing to the Lord, someone who loves his family and friend, and someone who strives to be Godly in everything he does. Please know that there is nothing that your dad or I wouldn’t do to make sure that you grow to be a man after God’s own heart. We love you son, oh so much. I thank God everyday that I get to be your mom. You are special! You are unique. You are one of my greatest joys.
Please understand that I am not perfect, that I mess up, that sometimes I am too hard on you and that sometimes I expect too much. But in everything that I do, is only because I want you to be the best that you can be; and with God’s help (because I can’t do it without him) I promise to help mold you into something wonderful. It won’t always be pleasant, but it will be for your good, and for the purpose that your heavenly father has created you for.