He was angry with me. So very angry. It was the first time in his 8 years of life that he wasn’t giving in either. He was holding strong, and so was I.
I watched him as he walked out of the house and stood at the end of the driveway, with his back to me. He still looked so little, yet looked much too big all at the same time. His hands clinched the book bag on his back and he wouldn’t turn around to wave. There was no hug before he left either. A first since he started school.
I called out “I love you” and he didn’t even flinch, but my heart did. However, I knew I had to stand firm. He acted out the night before and I took away some of his privileges. Bringing Pokémon cards to school was one of them. Honestly I didn’t think much of it when I took those away, but to him, his whole world got tipped upside down. I guess he and one of his buddies had a “Pokémon war” planned for today during free time and I had majorly messed up those plans. When he pleaded with me this morning to have them back, with his sweet big brown eyes so hopeful I would say yes, I wanted to just hand them to him. But I knew I couldn’t.
He is such a good kid, and doesn’t often get in trouble but he had really been acting out and I knew it was time to step in and refuse to allow his behavior. To some “this behavior” would be laughable, because in all honesty it really wasn’t that bad, yet for him it was. So I didn’t want to start to allow this to be his new norm.
Just as I saw the bus pulling down the street I ran out and squeezed him tight, he didn’t hug me back, but instead said “can you please stop, you’re embarrassing me”… another first. I used to celebrate “firsts”… first steps, first words… but these firsts stung. And the tears in my eyes were proof of that. I let go and walked away before the bus pulled up. I didn’t look back at him so I have no idea if he felt bad or not, but knowing him, he did. His heart probably hurt just as much as mine did.
When I walked inside and heard the bus pull away all I could think is “why is it so hard to stand firm?” After all I was the one who decided the punishment. It’s not like someone forced me into making that decision. There was part of me that wondered if I just couldn’t handle disappointing my kids. I don’t think any of us like to intentionally upset our children. But I also have always been a strong believer in setting boundaries for my children. It hasn’t always been popular and often times I have to be “the bad guy”.. a role that as much as I don’t desire to be, I know the importance of. But this time felt different.
It wasn’t until I looked down at my phone and saw a text from my mom about the shootings in Las Vegas that it became clear why I was so unsettled. “50 concert goers were killed, 500+ injured. The largest mass shooting in Americas history.” I immediately felt ill reading those words. My heart raced and my eyes filled with tears thinking of those that lost their lives so unnecessarily. My heart also broke and is still breaking for their families. The devastation they must feel is unfathomable.
It was in this grief that I understood why it’s so hard to let our loved ones leave feeling angry with us and why fear and sadness took over my heart as I heard the bus pull away with my angry little boy on it.
We live in a day and age where automobile accidents aren’t our number one concern anymore as we watch our loved ones leave. We live in a time where we don’t know if our children or spouses will come home to us. They could walk into work or school or go to a concert or even the mall or movie theaters for that matter, and never walk back through our doors again. All it would take is someone being upset for one reason or another and that person decides to take out anyone they could with them along the way. And in an instant our whole world is gone. Because of one senseless act. Because of someone who is mentally sick, severely disturbed, or carrying out an act of terrorism, people’s lives all around the world are broken forever.
I try very hard not to get wrapped up in the “what if’s” of the unknown, but in the world we live in today those “what if’s” are becoming people’s reality far to often. However I had to remind myself that regardless, I am still called to be a mom who sets limitation for my children, even when fear of the unknown creeps into my heart.
And please don’t think I am comparing my child being angry at me over Pokémon cards to someone losing their loved one in a mass shooting. That couldn’t be further from the truth. But what I am saying is this: take time to sort out your feelings before throwing out a punishment to your child. Make sure the discipline you do give, is one you can stand firm on, and you don’t end up regretting, or giving in to. And lastly remember the reason for the punishment. If they are grounded, or privileges are being taken, it’s because they likely made unwise choices, and they need the guidance and boundaries set for them by you, their parent. It may be hard, and we may live in a world where we want to give in because we at times are crippled by the unknown, but we have to let go of that. Because the reality is, if we don’t, we are giving those mass shooters and terrorist even more power than they intended, and we need to take that power back. We need to raise strong minded, compassionate, capable children who will one day raise their own children to be all of those things too. After all, our children deserve our best, not our stress.
*We are praying for you Las Vegas. Stay Strong*