church discipline

Here is this week’s column, sorry if it’s a little too honest.

Last Sunday I had to lead the music in church.

You would think being the substitute church chorister was the easiest job on the planet. Show up for three or four songs during the meeting, wave your arm around a little, take a week off. Rinse and repeat.

But when you find yourself standing in front of the congregations, watching the back row where your three oldest (8, 6 &3) unsupervised children are beating the living daylights out of each other because their father had to take the stinky baby out, the panic and anxiety is hysterical.

By the time I finally made it back to camp Jason was disciplining with a vengeance, pointing and shushing and mouthing frantic threats. Due to parental absence, our family had been condensed to a screaming, snarling knot of weak believers doing their duty in the overflow section of the chapel.

June (3) was especially vocal. I whisked her out of the chapel with Jason and the baby right behind. “Mommy!” she sobbed, “Daddy is SO MEAN TO ME!! He hurt my arm!!!!”

Now let me tell you, I know that small children are all innocent in the sight of You Know Who, but sometimes I wonder if He’s really met June. We’ll be riding in the car and in minutes she’ll have both her big brothers bawling their heads off without even touching them. She gives new meaning to the phrase, “Use your words.” Oh, how I wish she’d just shut up sometimes. (June can also be my most loving, affectionate, delightful child. She is both my favorite and my least favorite, depending on whether or not she’s had a nap.)

During my day to day encounters with June I regularly find myself in a Mommy time-out. She has inspired me to search for college courses with titles like, “When Your Child Pees on the Floor,” “Why Yelling Doesn’t Work,” and “If You Spank Her She’ll Just Get Worse.”

As we hit the foyer at full volume, I looked at her red little arm (he had to physically remove her from atop Harrison’s head) and was instantly mad. But was I mad at June? No. I was mad at my husband.

My helpless, frustrated, really great husband, who had, in a moment of angst, removed her with an extra bit of force.

We traveled out to the car and I proceeded to give him a piece of my mind, lecturing him on good parenting and shaking my finger in his face. I was furious. She’s only three, can’t we have a little patience already? With a righteous huff I stomped┬áback into the building with my girdle in a snit, and plunked down with my kids on the back row.

But who was I really mad at? Was I really mad at Jason for losing his temper, or was I mad that he failed to make up for my routinely bad parenting? He’s supposed to be the perfect parent. It’s not fair for my kids to have to deal with two lunatics on a regular basis, can’t he just get it right all the time on my behalf? Is a little perfection too much to ask?

Yes. Yes it is. I felt pretty stupid sitting there on that cold metal chair. If we were keeping track of Who’s The Better Parent, he’d be teaching classes and I’d be down in the resource room with an IEP.

When my mother was in high school her teacher had them make individual lists of all the things they couldn’t stand about other people. From gossiping to whining, her list was enormous. Once the class had finished the assignment, the teacher asked them to look at that list a little more closely. How many of those traits were simply a reflection of the things they hated most about themselves?

I suppose I’m just like everyone else; I detest my own frailties and weaknesses and I hate seeing them in someone else, especially when that someone is my pretty fantastic husband. I guess our kids will have to deal with the fact that they’ve got two stupid humans for parents.

Ah well, at least they aren’t being raised by wolves. Yet.

 

 


Comments

  1. That June Bug is just like her Momma. Stubborn, hard headed, yet extremely loveable.

  2. Annie you speak the truth and that is why I love to read your blog. You make me laugh, cry and really think hard. I appreciate your writings and thanks for sharing no matter how truthful it may be. Have an awesome weekend.

  3. This reminds me of red headed little sister. I say red headed because she had the temper. I think at the time she did this parents ‘only’ had 5 kids. (they went on to have 9) My sister got in trouble repeatedly and finally in the middle of the actual Sacrament my dad had to take her out. While it was super quiet in the chapel my sister screams, ” No Daddy, don’t beat me!” Seriously. I had the best first child. My husband and I about broke our arms patting ourselves on the back about what great parents we were. Then ‘Fiona’ came along. And my respect for parents with difficult children grew by leaps and bounds. My demon baby is now the most delightful sweet girl. She made a complete 180 around 4. You can do this!

  4. Sometimes I feel like you’re inside my head. Except when you say what I’m thinking it always sounds better. (When I say what I’m thinking it usually just involves sound effects and screaming.)

  5. Couldn’t you say that church discipline is a whole heck of a lot different than say, grocery store discipline or department store discipline or Wal-Mart discipline? Seeing my daughter knocking one of her brothers upside the head during a Wal-Mart run makes my blood run hotter than normal. But, having boys dressed in white shirts and ties doing something that should be reserverd for the wrestling mat not only brings my blood to a boil BUT, it also make my deep breathing techniques (because they are more “reverent” than bribes or threats) reach into the depths of the deepest black holes without much, if any, success. And on those several church occasions when I’ve resorted to Momma force, I regrettably and thankfully am reminded me why I go to church in the first place!

  6. ha ha,, cute cute post.
    made me think of my daughters 4 yr old
    June??……Grace????
    June???…..Grace???

    loveable if they’ve napped and all the stars aligned that day.
    I don’t know why parenting has to be so hard. I mean, after all, it is a lifetime commitment.

    hang in there…all 5 of my kids managed to live to be adults (how, I’m not sure)
    DESPITE my parenting skills

  7. This is the very thing I’ve been struggling with lately. I appreciate the honesty.

  8. That reminds me of the time recently when we were at Cafe Rio on a busy Saturday and Sailyr dropped her fork on the floor and wanted to retrieve it (to eat with!). Travis grabbed the back of her dress to prevent her from jumping off her chair to get it. She started to cry and scream, “Daddy always hurts me!!! He is always hurting me!!” We just embarrassingly looked at each other, pretended not to hear her and continued to eat our Sweet Pork Salad.
    (For the record, we rarely hurt our kids.)

  9. I understand – we teach our children to be obedient and think we have it all under control – then they purposefully turn on us to let us know we haven’t got it together at all. Humbling realization!
    I like the object teaching moment your mom had. I think I might you use that for my own teaching moment soon!

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