Sunday, April 18, 2010

One day last week I was driving the boys home from church after a late meeting. It was already an hour past their bedtime so it was unlikely that all would be well. We were having a discussion about the following day - a day whose schedule would be different than usual. In his tired state, the four-year-old did not handle the idea of different well. Finally after listening to me talk about what would happen and deciding that he didn't like it, he spoke in anger to me and said, "When we get home I will hit you in the face."

Yes, that's exactly what my four-year-old said to me.

Immediately I began to think through all the possible reactions I (or other parents) might have to this child's words. Almost as immediately the words of God that came through the prophet Hosea also came to mind:
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and offering incense to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them up in my arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down and fed them.
How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my fierce anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and no mortal,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.
(Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9)

The next thing that came to mind was something I've often heard my friend Virginia say when faced with difficult behaviors or situations: "We'll just keep them and love them."

As parents we are faced with times when we must decide how to respond to difficult behaviors. God chooses love. I hope we do, too.

(Meanwhile, in that moment, I was glad the four-year-old was buckled in his car seat where he could stay until he no longer thought hitting his mommy was a good idea! Thankfully it didn't take too long.)

1 comment:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Just wait until he is a teenager. His reactions will be even more interesting and challenging. Love those teenagers -- and he seems to have a headstart!

For kicks, next time ask him what he expects you to do after he hits you? I bet he has not yet connected cause and effect! (It is fun to teach that to kids.)