"When we know the boys are going home, we're going to have the best few days we possibly can! We're going to let everything slide and just have fun! No time outs, no consequences, no rules...just really fun days! I'm sure that's it's going to be such a sweet time that I'll be able to post about how every family should find time once a year or so to live life as though it is the very last day you'll be able to spend with your kids."
I was just convinced that this was one of my greatest ideas yet. Underneath it all, what I was truly saying was that I didn't enjoy disciplining my kids, so in the end I just wanted to be able to enjoy all of the good stuff about parenting. God had a different idea.
The week arrived. We had court on Thursday, April 12, and we had been told that the boys would, most definitely, be going home this time. "Oh boy!" I thought. "This week is going to be so great!!" The problem was, however, that K-man did not have the same understanding that I had about his behavior this week. He didn't understand that he was supposed to be on his very best behavior and we were supposed to spend every day in perfect harmony - playing games, snuggling on the couch, reminiscing about fun times we'd had. No, K-man was operating as usual, which meant that he was great fun but also still needed work on being obedient, kind, and respectful at times. Pretty quickly Monday morning I realized that I was not going to be able to hold up my end of the bargain, and such was the theme for Tuesday and Wednesday as well. I was so wired to respond and discipline his disobedience that I literally could not let it slide when it reared its ugly head.
On Monday evening, as I looked on the shelf and saw all of the toys that had been taken from him and I reflected on the time he had spent in his room stomping and screaming, I felt really disappointed. "This day was supposed to be great, and now it's ruined!" I thought. Tuesday and Wednesday presented several more instances when discipline was required. Again and again, my husband and I found that we were unable to stand back and not respond.
Since the boys are now gone, I've spent a good bit of time reflecting on my time with them, and the Lord has taught me a very significant truth that I'm sure I will return to over and over as I parent - I was entering these final days with the mindset that disciplining my kids was the absolute worst part of being a parent (let's just get on with the wacky fun stuff!), but in reality, disciplining and instructing my kids is the most precious responsibility that the Lord has given me. I look back over the 5 months that these boys were with me, and I see K-man's heart being molded more and more into the image of Christ - learning obedience, humility, confidence, compassion, respect, submission, thankfulness. He is a much different child now than he was 5 months ago. What a joy! What a delight! What an immense blessing to be a part of something so sacred! That's when it hit me...as parents, we shouldn't just endure the drudgery of disciplining our kids and find a few times every year to forget about it and enjoy the "good stuff." Rather, we should understand and appreciate the Truth that disciplining our kids is the good stuff! This is how God intended for us to behave! This was God's design for parenthood!
So yes, we let some things slide in the final days. We didn't battle over cleaning plates at dinner. We stayed out late and got ice cream. We let him do most of the fun things he asked to do...trying to say "no" as little as necessary. We loosened our reigns there, but we did not allow him to be disrespectful, disobedient, or ungrateful in any sense, because more than wanting to simply enjoy the laughter of our children, we would rather have the immense joy of stepping back one day and delighting in their holiness.
"The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him;
the cords of his sin hold him fast.
He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly."
"For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light,
and the corrections of discipline are the way to life."