Wednesday, December 21, 2016

But I'd Promised Him Waffles.

Little known fact: I HATE SYRUP. 

Wait. That sounded wrong. I don't hate syrup, per se- I really, really, really enjoy syrup. Especially the maple kind that comes from New Hampshire. (Shout out to my bestie's Mom for hooking me up again this year with that delicious Yankee goodness. I am deeply spoiled. Y'all, she also sent bacon. ::drops mic::)

So I love syrup, (obviously) because I have a soul and functional taste buds BUT I HATE SYRUP because I have three young kiddos and anyone that's ever topped a pancake or drizzled a waffle or crowned a biscuit with the stuff knows that the very second you crack open a bottle of the stuff around kids it's immediately everywhere. The bathroom doorknob is sticky. The television screen is sticky. The dog is sticky. The book on the a shelf in a room behind a locked door IS STICKY. I don't know what sort of voodoo magic kids possess for random stickiness, but mine have it. 

And it 

They'll scrape their plates in the trashcan (and coat it with long dribbles of syrup) then carry them to the sink (leaving a trail of sugar droplets on the floor just waiting to be stepped on) then go wash their hands (touching everything from the couch to the walls to the ceiling on their way). Oh, and before you ask, I've tried wiping and washing and wishing away the syrup from their fingers at the table, but it only does a marginal amount of good in the Random Stickiness Department. Somehow, some way they can still manage to spread that liquid sugared goodness on at least 12 available surfaces. It's a gift. Or like I said- voodoo magic. 

So yeah, I hate syrup. Which brings me to my point. 

At bedtime on a previous night, I had bribed promised my youngest a warm, homemade waffle for breakfast if he'd settle down and go to sleep. He was ecstatic (because he is, after all, my son) and immediately put his angelic red head on the pillow and drifted off into a sugar plum wonderland filled with bacon and maple syrup. He slept like a cherub that night. BUT HIS OLDEST SIBLING DID NOT. 

By 11:30pm I was cleaning vomit from no less than three rooms of my house. I was running puke saturated towels through the washer with an extra rinse/sanitize cycle and holding throw up bowls and rubbing backs and blowing post projectile vomit noses and watching Curious George with him until approximately 3am. I eventually fell asleep on the couch with him after watching more television than I'd ever want to watch between the hours of midnight to 3am and woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a bus. It was a decidedly unbeautiful morning. 

7:30 rolled around and my precious carrot top calls out from his room "Momma! I see the sun! Is it time for maaah waffles now??" And OH MY SWEET MERCIFUL HEAVENS I WANTED TO CRY. There were so many things that I did not want to do that morning, and whisking flour and warm milk and eggs into batter and watching for that little green light on top of our waffle maker was only one of them. Bless it. 

But here's the thing- I'd already promised him waffles. He wasn't the one up sick all night. He went to bed. He slept quietly. He did his job. I couldn't back down on my end of the deal. God always fulfills His promises to us, and when it's feasibly in my power, I want to parent my kids that way, too. Sure, it would have been easier to fix them toast or cereal or throw them candy canes and marshmallows, but what would that have taught him about my consistency? About my validity? About my laziness versus my desire to keep a promise? I didn't want to break his trust just because I was tired. 

We've been going through an interesting phase in our house lately. There are some boundaries that are being tested and pushed and experimented with and some attitudes that are beginning to show signs of flippancy and maybe even a hint of disrespect. (Shocking, I know, because I'm sure there is nobody else out there who has had one of their perfect little snowflakes answer in whiny tones or develop a terrible case of selective hearing.) I don't know if it's an age thing or a hormonal thing or a too-much-Christmas-excitement thing, but I pulled my trump card last week and had a serious (and literal) come to Jesus with the offending boundary pusher. I'd recently studied on my own several accounts of Paul's instructions to families in Ephesians and Colossians in an attempt to sort of realign my focus as a parent so I sat down and shared those scriptures with them as well. 

I didn't start with the typical "Children, obey your blah, blah, blah..." ones, but instead focused on what God was telling me, as their parent, through Paul's letters. I told them that God had given me a goal and a duty and a JOB to train them and discipline them and coach them and show them Jesus. To be an example to them on how to live a Christ like life. How I'd been convicted lately for the times I raised my voice unnecessarily or lost my temper over unimportant things or overreacted to innocent mistakes. I started my conversation with them by sort of lifting the veil and letting them see how I truly and honestly want to be the best parent and example I can be and that I still mess it up sometimes. I pointed out my flaws and weaknesses and areas that I ask God to help me do better. And then I showed them the specific scriptures I study to help focus my vision onto those goals. How I don't want to be a Mom that frustrates her kids (See last scripture at bottom of post. Paul can throat punch a Mom for inconstancy, y'all. It's painful. But good, too.) by saying one thing, then acting differently. It was only after that revelation, that honesty, that laid bareness that I brought up the other side to Paul's instructions- what he wanted children to know. 

"And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." -Paul, Ephesians 6:4

We talked about the promise God makes when He says it will "be well" with them and they will have a "long life" because of their honor and obedience. We talked about how many blessings God wants to give us when we obey His will and put our focus on being like Him. We talked about what it means to obey, even when you might not understand the reasoning behind it. We talked about Abraham and his faith to begin the journey God led him on. We talked about Solomon and what he had to say in Proverbs about guarding our hearts and our minds and the power of our tongues. How strong the words we say are and how much hurt or healing we can speak with them. I used real life examples of things I've said to them that both hurt them when I lost my temper and raised my voice and also built them up when I was encouraging and compassionate. I opened their eyes to realize and see that their words have the same power. And then, when we were both done crying and apologizing- we prayed. We confessed our sinful attitudes and asked God to give us strength to do better. And we are doing better. 

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." -Solomon, Proverbs 18:21

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the Earth." -Paul, Ephesians 6:1-3

"Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord." -Paul, Colossians 3:20

So early that post-vomit-apocolypse morning, when my youngest asked me to fulfill the promise I'd made to him after he'd come through on his end of the bargain, as tired as I was and as much as I hated the thought of the mess it would leave, I made him waffles anyway. 

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart." -Paul, Colossians 3:21