Last week was the first week of school, when I picked up Lawson (our four year old) from his classroom, his teacher looked at me and said, "Mom, we have a first time policy." I didn't know exactly what she meant, so she continued, "we have a first time policy to obey the first time." I said, "OK. That's a great rule, we'll work on that. See you tomorrow" insert a smile and a wave and we were out the door.
As I walked away from the door and down the hallway I was a little stunned. "A first time policy" sounded a bit strict on the first day of preschool and honestly I was a little surprised by her stern-ness (I don't know if that's a real word or not). But as I have pondered her statement over the last week, and have diligently talked to our kids about obeying the first time, I have been convicted and convinced of a few things.
I have been convicted that I've done my kids a grave disservice by not requiring them to obey the first time ALWAYS. Of course, obeying the first time is what every parent or teacher ideally wants from the children they have in their stead, but requiring it is really hard to do sometimes. Because requiring first time obedience means I have to: stop editing pictures to discipline the constant whining; it means I have to stop unloading the dishwasher to put a child in time out for choosing not to help me unload the silverware basket (which is their chore); it requires me to get off the phone instead of continuing to talk to a dear friend when my kids are going at it on the trampoline or fighting over who is going to get to ride the four wheeler! In each of those scenarios and the hundreds of others that take place throughout any given day or week, it means I have to STOP. I have to set aside what I'm doing and actually stop threatening and actually follow through BEFORE I lose my cool, because we all know, if you lose your cool, then you're WAY past the point of where you should have disciplined them in the first place.
It's really pretty simple, as I have thought about it, why is it wrong for a parent or teacher to expect "first time obedience?" I think for too long I've been a little soft on my kids. Now don't get me wrong, I definitely discipline them, I'm the Mama known for carrying a wooden spoon in the diaper bag, in my purse, and I even have one stuck down between my seat and the console in my car and I am NOT afraid to use it! I have a time out chair, and its called the "potty", I've always put my kids in the bathroom on the closed toilet seat because in every house, in every building, there's at least one potty to go and sit on, so there's never any question for them as to where "time out" is. So when I say I've been "soft on my kids" I really mean, I may have given them a little too much grace...you probably know what I'm talking about...I just think I may have been giving them too many chances.
This whole issue hit me like a ton of bricks a few days ago when the kids and I started re-reading through The Jesus Storybook Bible. We were reading the simple and familiar story of Adam and Eve when they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and then hid from God and ultimately were removed from the perfect Garden of Eden. I posed the question to Peyton and Lawson, "how many chances did God give Adam and Eve to sin?" It was ONE. Only one chance to do the right thing!
That's when I had a small epiphany, which really is basic, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, I don't know why I'd never thought of it this way before, but if God expected Adam and Eve to obey the first time, and even now, He desires for all of us to show "first time obedience" because delayed obedience is really no obedience, then its ok for me to expect and even require, my kids to have "first time obedience". First time obedience is not too high of a standard to hold them to or "too much to ask of them". There's definitely a time for having grace and understanding that they are, in fact, little children who are learning and growing and going to make mistakes and through those mistakes they are learning what to do and what not to do, but there's also the balance of holding them accountable for their attitudes, words and actions, in requiring them to obey the first time.
By no means do my kids obey the first time, every time, so please don't mistake this post as a bragging one, in fact its quite the opposite, I'm convicted and convinced that I need "to hold their feet to the fire" more, and most of that requires me to be more engaged, more selfless and less concerned with what I WANT to get done or checked off my list and more concerned with my kids. These are all just thoughts from a Mom in process, with kids who are in process. Unfortunately we won't ever "arrive" this side of heaven, but we can strive for it and we can ask God to give us His strength. And its His strength that helps us do the requirement of a "first time policy".
Below is a picture of Lawson, whom I must say is just precious! We are starting to see little glimpses of a soft heart that is turned toward God, which is an answer to many prayers. I love this boy with all my heart and I'm excited to see what God is going to do with him!
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