Sorry I have been absent as of late. We are buying another property. As well, I am trying to cover down on winter preparations, as I always do.
Today though I have something I need to share. To get off my chest. Bear with me as I am still processing this whole thing. This post is a work in progression.
So today we went to the Downtown Farmer’s Market. As we do almost every Wednesday. It’s not like the massive one back in Eugene, Oregon, but it will suffice. Anyways, before we left I told my girls three times to go get a sweater or jacket. One child made it out of the house with a scarf. That’s it.
When we got to the Farmer’s Market, I realized they never grabbed jackets. One child was in a dress with short sleeves, the other was in a dress with no sleeves. However,
I did not feel sorry for these girls really I did, but I shouldn’t have. I love them, but they disobeyed, and the consequences that ensued were natural consequences. Justice!
Every tent we stopped at, everyone asked the girls if they were cold, and after allowing the girls to answer I would respond with something along the lines of “That’s what happens when we don’t obey mommy and get our jackets.” I directed the statement at the girls, and always with an upbeat tone, as I was trying to teach the girls. Each time the other adult would nod their head. Either they had lived in a time when they learned things the natural-consequence way, or they had children themselves.
Then it happened. I met Judy McJudgy-Pants and her friend. Now I can only imagine what Mrs. McJudgy-Pants had to say before approaching us. “Oh my gosh, look at that hippie over there. What a weirdo. But those poor kids. She is dressed so warm, in layers and all, but those kids. Poor babes. She can’t even bother to get them a jacket. And look at thei clothes, they don’t even match” Now, did Mrs. McJudgy-Pants actually think this? Probably not. And by the way, I let my kids dress themselves, I believe in self expression.
But jeez, everyone always blames the parents. If that parent would only disciple their kids they wouldn’t act that way. Oh, if his parents just weren’t so rough on him, he wouldn’t be so mean. What do people want? Being a parent is already hard enough. Most of us do the best we can for our children. But if other parents are anything like me, they probably second guess themselves all the time. Someone please tell me it isn’t just me. I am doing everything to ensure that my kids grow up to be productive, responsible members of society, that think about more than their selves. But So much of what I do, goes against what societal standards tell me is permissible, and acceptable.
So anyways, Judy approaches. Gets down on Danni’s level, and the following conversation takes place:
Mrs. McJudgy-Pants: Oh honey, you must be so cold.
Mrs. McJudgy-Pants: Would you like my sweater?
The woman had a zip-up sweater, and a a thick jean jacket.
Me: Thank you, but she will be okay.
First of all I have a thing about germs going into the cold and flu season, but also, Danni would learn nothing if she gets rescued.
Mrs. McJudgy-Pants: So you’re telling me I can’t?
She sounds honest, but dumbfounded.
Me: Yes, thank you, but she will be okay.
Mrs. McJudgy-Pants: But she must be freezing. (Turning to Danni) Aren’t you cold sweetie?
Danni: Nods again, and looks at me, expectantly.
Me: That’s what happens when she disobeys and doesn’t grab a coat. (Still said upbeat)
Now at this point her friend starts to gesture for them to leave, and I expect a similar response to the ones that I had been getting all morning.
Mrs. McJudgy-Pants: (Glaring, and with disdaine in her voice, she says) God forgives!
Did she really just say that? At this point all these things start going through my head. I have a very strong fight instinct, and she is challenging my parenting. But more than that, she is using God, whom I hold very dear to my heart, to try and manipulate me. Not okay. Not okay at all.
I wanted to respond with something like “I’m not God.” But that would have been counter-productive. Besides, this isn’t about forgiveness. I’m not keeping my kid cold because I’m mad at her and haven’t forgiven her. I am trying to help my child learn. So instead…
Me: Yes He does
I should have added something about like “Yes he does, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have consequences for our actions. But before I could even think, she got back down on Danni’s level.
Mrs. McJudgy-Pants: Would you like my sweater sweetie?
OH NO SHE DIDN’T! She just undermined me in front of this whole tent, and by this point the group of people watching is growing.
Now I’m not judging this woman, she may have just thought we couldn’t afford a coat, or maybe she really did think I was incompetent. But You do NOT undermine me with my kids, and expect me to give in. I don’t care if people are watching and I have agoraphobia. Don’t mess with me when it comes to my kids.
So I let loose. I was polite, but firm. I didn’t raise my voice.
Me: I said no. She is my child, and I said no!
Mrs. McJudgy-Pants: Are you kidding me?
She starts huffing and puffing. obviously exasperated with me. At this point everyone else is glaring at me as well.
Me: Look! I would rather her be cold today, and learn her lesson, than forget her coat again next month when there is snow. She will be fine today, but next month she could end up with pneumonia. (With a firm voice) I said no!
With this, her friend kind of gave me a conceding look, and half shrugged, while Mrs. McJudgy-Pants stormed off. The crowed started to walk on, and I turned and bought the carrots we were trying to buy when this all started. My goal was to act like nothing had happened. Like it was no big deal. I have no clue how it came across making my transaction, as I was trying desperately not to have an anxiety attack.
I know my actions were justified, but all day I wasn’t already second-guessing myself. Wanting to give her my vest. I truly did feel sorry for her, even though I tried to act like I didn’t. It is my job to train my kids in the way that they should go. This includes teaching them to to take responsibility for their own selves. Next time there may not be some concerned stranger. Instead of discomfort, she could become seriously ill. And when Danni gets a respiratory illness, its BAD! A few years ago she almost died. I would rather her forget a jacket on a day that is around 50 degrees out with cold wind, than snow with a wind-chill below freezing.
This really rattled me though, and the more I thought about it the more I drew a comparison to this significant event in my week, and how G-d sometimes has to teach me in my life.
I am pretty hard headed. I can know something, inside and out, but if I am not ready to learn it… It is hard for me to grasp. So often G-d will withhold His mercy from me. Ultimately He knows that in allowing me to face the consequences of my actions, I will wake up and smell the coffee. That I will finally get it.
So thank you Adonai for teaching me. When I won’t pay attention, or just don’t hear through all the “listening,” thank you for not ever giving up on me!