“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19
As an almost five-year-old, Jocelyn has crossed over from being the cute, endearing little sister, to being the pesky little girl who really gets under Mason’s skin. She can push his buttons, and does so on a regular basis: partly because with Mason’s low patience threshold it’s easy, and partly because she loves the power.
It was one of those situations: Jocelyn kept slamming the gate at the top of the stairs; Mason kept barking at her to stop. She wouldn’t, so he shoved her. I was horrified! Using unkind words is one thing, but using bodily force is completely unacceptable. When I came on the scene, Jocelyn was on the floor crying, and Mason had the fear of God in his eyes.
I knew from that look that I didn’t need to yell at him. He was already punishing himself with guilt and fear. So I chose a different tactic. I asked him, “Is that who you want to be?” He looked at the floor and whispered, “No.” So I had him retell how things would have unfolded if he had made a better choice. I watched the look in his eyes change as he redeemed himself by rewriting his response, being the person he wants to be. Then he apologized to Jocelyn, and to me. I ended the exchange by saying, “Remember all of that for next time so you know how you want to behave,” and gave him an “apology accepted” hug.
Less than twenty-four hours later, Mason and I got to that same bad place. I had asked him twice to do a series of tasks. When I repeated the request for the third time, and Mason kept playing Legos instead, it was like someone flipped a switch in me. I marched over, grabbed him by the shoulders, got nose to nose with him, and just as I was about to let loose with a verbal assault, I heard my own words echo in my head, Is this who I want to be?
Mason and I share the same temper. We’ve been trying to work on it together. But I usually can’t see reason when I’m really wound up. I just aim and fire in a knee-jerk fashion.
So this echo had to be a gift from God. Along with that echo came the opportunity to see how this scenario was going to play out if I kept on that track. It most certainly did not have me behaving as the mom and person I want to be. So I paused, took a deep breath, and said a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance. I felt everything inside of me shift as I redeemed myself by rewriting my response before I even gave it, becoming the mom that I want to be.
Instead of yelling at Mason, I explained that what I had asked of him was his part of the teamwork to get dinner on the table, and now dinner would be delayed. I also explained how terrible it made me feel to be ignored. Lastly, I told him that because of all that, he would lose screen time as his punishment. I delivered it all matter of factly. And because the delivery came without my usual anger, Mason didn’t shut down. Instead, I could see him recognize and accept the consequences of his choices.
As I received his apology hug, I felt wonderful. Sure, he had made a mistake. Sure, he’s going to make a lot more. That’s how he tests the boundaries and learns. But I’m also learning. And the more I can stay open to God and let Him do new things in me, the more I can become the mom I want to be on a more permanent basis.
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