Inspiration came yesterday in the shape of my son’s obsession with silverware. My little boy loves to get out the butter knives and pretend they are swords, beating them against each other and howling like a savage. Sometimes this is cute- but my husband and I decided that we’d rather he indulge his fantasies with something less pointy. A spatula, perhaps, or the handle of a wooden spoon.
My son is not willing to compromise. He must have silverware, bright and shiny and forbidden.
So several times a day I hear the drawer open, and then it begins. It starts with:
“Fighter*, you can’t have the silverware.” Sometimes at this point he goes ahead and closes the drawer. Sometimes, not. So it continues:
“Fighter, if you take it out I’m only going to tell you to put it back.” There have been a handful of times this has been effective, but usually not.
“Fighter, Mommy would really like you to put those down and close the drawer.” This is generally the time I get the most obedience from him. I’d say eighty percent of the time, which is pretty good for a two-year-old. Although, twenty percent of the time the dance continues.
“You aren’t allowed to play with those.”
He stars howling and dancing.
I go into the kitchen, and make him stop and look at me. “Will you put those back and I’ll get you something else?”
This is where it gets interesting.
“You need to put them away, or I will have to take them.”
“If I have to take them, you will be punished.”
He will actually think about this, and there are still a smattering of times that he will go back to the drawer and spare himself the time out. But, if it gets to this point, most of the time it will end badly.
And yesterday, I realized- he gets it from me. Because there are times in my life where I know God has told me to surrender, and I’ve ignored him. And God and I have had this conversation. He’s said, “I really want you to let go.” I’ve said no. He’s said, “if you don’t let go I’ll have to take it away from you.” And I’ve said, “NO.” So God has gotten down on his knees and made me look in his eyes and said, “I really want you to listen, because if you don’t listen and I have to take it away, I will have to discipline you.”
And sometimes I’ll stick out my lower lip and walk over to the drawer as if it is a death sentence, and put the beautiful shiny forbidden things away. But more often? I howl like a banshee and run the other way and hide in my closet and wait for the hammer to fall, just like my son.
And I have to wonder why we as humans act this way- because once it gets to that point, to the point where a bad ending is expected and inevitable, how do we get ANY enjoyment from having gotten our way?
*Clearly not his real name, but he probably wishes it was.