Henry recently learned a new trick. He has learned to wiggle his tiny little arms out of the carseat. He is typically quite proud of himself when he accomplishes this task. He immediately turns around to face me and starts waving. Then, he will start the dance of trying to reach the light above him in the car. This will go on until I can pull over and shove his arms back in while he is yelling.
This morning I realized, it’s not going to stop. I’m gonna need to figure out a way to prevent this from happening because soon he is going to tumble out sideways. I can tell him “no” or “sit down” or ” stop” and he’s just going to look at me thrilled because half of his body is free. I read online that one mom would pull over on the side of the road until her kids would buckle back up. I’m not sure what kind of time this mom had, but I’ve never heard of a schedule being so relaxed you could actually sit on the side of the road until kids decide to obey. Amazing.
I was thinking about this today and realized how my parenting has changed with Henry. This situation doesn’t stress me out. At all. In fact, I actually found myself waving back this morning. What in the world? Why am I encouraging this? But it was just so cute. Not to mention, he just started waving a few months ago so who I am to squash this newly acquired skill. Before long, I will be high fiving him when he crosses to the front. Who knows.
Seriously though, I do have much more grace for Henry because in all honesty, he really doesn’t understand why this is wrong. Toddlers are notorious for doing what they want, but Henry does whatever makes him happy with little care or thought to consequences. In fact, it’s hard to get him to understand why consequences even exist for him. I often feel so badly when he is melting down because of a transition. For instance, he hates to get out of the bath. No matter what I say, it throws him for a loop every time. We have a visual timer, countdown, etc but in his little world I have snatched him from a lifetime of fun.
But, that doesn’t mean he can stay in the bath forever. Or be unsafe in the car. Or bite me when he is mad. But my reaction looks different. I certainly don’t yell because he’s throwing a fit. That would honestly just be mean. Who knows what he would be thinking in that tiny head of his. It would be like a mom yelling at a baby in an infant carrier for crying. So, I extend grace. But all the while ensuring justice is served. It’s a fine line. I don’t let him sleep in the bathtub, I don’t let him bite his sisters, I don’t let him hit the dog, I don’t let him get out of the carseat, etc.
I discipline on his level. With grace. But I also make sure he is safe and some sort of obedience happens. After baths, I know getting his diaper on will be a battle. So, I have Baby Shark ready to go. Or a sibling waiting to help and distract. Grace is extended, but his bottom still ends up covered. Thank the Lord.
No doubt, most of you have seen the video circulating of Botham Jean’s brother hugging the police officer that killed his brother. It was an amazing testimony of God’s grace and love in someone’s life. You can’t fake forgiveness like that. However, there is still a mom fighting for awareness and accountability. There is still a mom working to ensure this is not another person’s fate.
This is going to make some of you nervous: Let’s be careful not to use grace as an excuse for not getting involved. It was the love God has for us, and the grace He extended, that took Jesus to the cross. He decided to take on our sins and die, so we could live. Grace is what gave that young man the ability to hug the person who prematurely took his brothers life. It was grace that allowed him to say he didn’t desire prison for her.
It’s grace that allows me to desire restoration in the life of Henry’s mom. It’s grace that allows me to pray for her, cry for her, and wish she could walk away from a life of addiction. But make no mistake about that grace….it doesn’t condone her actions. It doesn’t stop me from wishing she didn’t drink while pregnant. Or make me upset that Henry still gets so easily sick, because she smoked her entire pregnancy. I long to see reform and be a part of the change. But, if she showed up at my door today I would hug her. And tell her the most important thing she could do would be to come to know Christ. Because that is what grace looks like.
Psalm 33:5 “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.”