I can't even remember what the flicker was in the end. I think she bundled her baby sister for the 5th time that day, and I had to follow through. My years of teaching in the Primary Education system had taught me that follow through was a must. I had warned her twice. She had done it again.
To the stairs she must go.
She screamed and cried. Kicked and shoved. Did that dead weight thing that toddlers are so very good at doing. Screeched and shouted. Stamped and flapped. You name it.
I tried reason...
"Calm down and I'll come and talk to you"
"Once you're quiet, we can have a conversation"
"Stay on the step and then we can chat"
It failed. And failed. And failed again.
My boiling point rose. I knew I needed to get out of there.
So I left her screeching and crying, stamping and pounding and throwing herself on the floor while I returned to the kitchen, took a deep breath and shot up an arrow prayer...
"Lord, help me"
And suddenly I remembered what we'd been talking about the Sunday before... that our children's misbehaviour, their tantrums, their disobedience... all the things that drive us mad, are the very things we should be grateful for.
They are training ground.
When my girl throws a tantrum she is learning. She is learning that she cannot control her temper. She is learning that she gets angry. She's learning that she always wants her own way... She is learning that she can't always have her own way. And she doesn't like how that feels...
And in the quiet discussion afterwards, through half-gulped sobs, she tells me that she doesn't know why she did what she did. She just wanted to... even though she knew it was not kind.
And then you see the penny drop. At 2 and a half, she is recognising that she is a sinner. And when she's in that place of raging at the world, just like when I'm in that place, she's realising that she needs help to get out.
She can't do it on her own. Neither of us can.
And so, an opportunity to share grace, to show mercy, to extend love.
An opportunity to point to the Saviour.
Our children desperately need to disobey, need to have tantrums, need to be selfish.
Because otherwise they'll walk this life thinking they've got it sorted. Thinking they are better than everyone else. Thinking that if they do the right thing externally, then that is all that matters.
They won't realise they desperately need a Saviour.
So next time I find myself shooting arrow prayers up in the kitchen, I'm going make sure one of them is thanking God for the opportunity of this training ground, hard as it sometimes feels...
|This ones not quite at the tantrum stage yet! But she can certainly turn on the tears!|