He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
So the Lord has given me another opportunity to be transparent with all of you....great for you, not so great for me! I do love transparency. Some of the women I admire most are the ones who have been willing to mentor me through transparency. It speaks volumes and can often help but for the person who has to do the revealing, it's not always fun. As I share this, please don't get the impression that this is the first time something like this has happened to us; I just felt led to share this particular incident and highlight a couple valuable life lesson I am trying to ingrain in my children.
No names will be shared but some of the details need to be brought out for better understanding. There was a band field trip. It was at an amusement park. It was a well-deserved reward for some hard work during this school year. It may come as a shock to you but for my two who were on this trip, it was their first time at a place like this because well....amusement parks with 7 little children are just too overwhelming for me. I was thrilled for my two boys to have this opportunity because it means I don't have to bring them, ha! We've done Storyland but this place had big rides, for big kids! They were so excited for this trip, and I don't blame them. I knew that my two boys would be in the same group and I knew who their chaperone was going to be; I couldn't have been more thrilled with the situation.
It never occurred to me that morning to have a talk to my boys about their behavior on this trip, to respect the people in charge of them and to just overall behave and be mindful of what our expectations are. While they are not perfect by any means, this is an area these two generally don't struggle with. So I sent them on their way with a cheerful goodbye and skipped the pep talk. Whether it was a mistake or not I'll never know; it’s possible the outcome would have been the same had they had it. I was so excited to pick them up at the end of the day and hear all about the fun they had; I knew it would be an evening full of stories. It was full of stories alright; just not the ones I was thinking of!
When they got into the car the first thing one of the boys said when I asked how it went was, "Well, the chaperone was probably upset with me for not being patient; I was just really excited to be there". Alright, I thought, a little excitement is expected so I didn't say much about it. I decided I would just text her when I got home and make sure things had gone well. Lets just say her version of the story and the one I was getting were different. When I questioned said child and read the text to him that said he had taken off on her three times he looked at me confused and said that he hadn't run off on her. Life lesson #1: Children are always guilty until proven innocent; except in cases where they are accusing an adult of harming them (in those cases, parents should always believe the child and investigate). So with that in mind I went back to my friend and made it clear that I believed her but not being there I was going to need more details so I could get to the bottom of this; and she obliged. When I read to my child the first instance he ran off he immediately made an excuse. Life lesson #2: NO EXCUSES! Own your behavior and take responsibility for your actions. I immediately called him on his excuse making and explained that what he thought was considered ASKING her was actually TELLING her. The two are not the same and I made it clear to him that he did, in fact, take off on her. He knew better to give me any excuses on the next two points and so after a little scolding, a little reminding and a little scripture to reinforce what I was teaching I then had him sit down to write the chaperone an apology. Life lesson #3: Teach your kids at a young age to apologize and ask forgiveness.
Why am I sharing this? Because making excuses is one of my biggest pet-peeves and I see it all too often. How many times have you heard a parent make an excuse for a child who is behaving poorly? How many times do we see adults making excuses for themselves? I could have done it in this case. I could have said, "Weeeellll, he was just so excited. Relax a little!" The bottom line and what I want my kids to understand is that we have the power, with the help of the Holy Spirit to rein in our emotions and our bodies. We don't have to get out of control, we don't have to be impatient, and we don't have to throw tantrums because we can have control over those things. Generally speaking, we choose our behaviors and I begin teaching this to my children as soon as I know they understand the words coming out of my mouth. That means my two-year-old does not have the luxury of throwing a fit just because he's two and not getting his way or is over-tired. If we begin teaching our kids young these very important character traits (or fruits of the spirit, Gal.5:22-23) then hopefully by the time they are adults they are the kind of adults who can take ownership of their actions and not instantly fall back on excuses. My hope is that my kids grow to be the kind of people who are able to say, "I'm sorry" and really mean it. That instead of blaming circumstances and people for bad choices they will be able to examine their own hearts admit they were wrong.
I'm also sharing this because it was a reminder to me that parenting never ends and it requires constant prayer. Even when you think you've done a really good job instilling principles in your kids, they will still make mistakes. When there are several kids (and I'm sure it happens in situations with fewer children) there are several areas needing attention all at the same time and it can get overwhelming. I was reminded that my two older boys are not adults yet and while they are great kids and generally make good choices, they still need lots of prayer, direction and guidance. It's so easy to get focused on the younger ones because they need so much from you but that incident was a reminder that I really need to work on balancing my attention and realize that my older kids need me just as much as my younger ones do. It was a lesson in humility for sure and reminded me once again, to be extending grace to other moms; the same kind of grace I need. I'm most certainly thankful for this particular chaperone's grace in the situation; it made a discouraging moment a little easier to bear. The great news is there will be more field trips and more opportunities for them to put into practice the principles we are trying to instill in them. They will fail; they will succeed. How they handle those successes and failures will be the fruit of our labors!