The Forgotten Lunchbox.
Thursday morning started out with the same routines… Rushing around while trying to get everyone ready for school. I used to think that the older my girls got, the less I’d have to do. Nope, I was wrong. I do just the same or more. I have no complaints though; it’s a blessing to be a part of 5 different lives.
I gave my 10 minute warning, as I do every morning. They usually start to move a bit faster after the reminder. I’ve come to accept that no matter how prepared we are the night before, getting 6 people ready and out the door can be a stressful thing. Not just for me, but for all of us.
We loaded up into the mini-van, right on schedule. Their endless chatter filled the van in the 3 minute drive to school, as well as their morning “lip gloss applications.” Just as I was pulling into the parking lot, I hear: “Mommy, I forgot my lunchbox!”
Grrrrr. The other 4 girls started to gather their things to head into school… I was still trying to figure out what to do. Take her lunch back later? Take her home to get it? While in thought, in the most annoyed tone, she repeats herself.
“Mommy! I. said. I. forgot. my. lunchbox.”
In one quick gesture, I reached around and smacked her on the mouth. Her tears were immediate. She sat there in silence…
With both of us uncomfortable with what just happened, I started to drive home. I had let the stress get the best of me. I reacted when I should have responded. A part of me felt justified because she was indeed rude when she spoke, and yet a part of me felt guilty for being so quick to use physical force as punishment.
We pulled into the driveway and as I stepped out of the van, she just sat there. Before I could say anything, she looked up at me and without hesitation said, “I’m mad at you, Mommy. That hurt.”
Some of you may be thinking that at this point she deserved another smack, but I don’t think so. She didn’t say it disrespectfully; she just simply stated it. I know that some of us grew up in a time where we wouldn’t dare voice our feelings outright to our parents. But as I watched her, I thought of the many times I’ve told the Lord I was angry. I remembered the nights I’ve wept in pure frustration at my surroundings. I could recall countless times of expressing not just anger, but many emotions to my Heavenly Father.
He didn’t punish me for it. Instead I think He listened, and let me feel what is normal to feel. He allowed me to be the best thing I know how to be… He allowed me to be human.
So often we encourage them to share the positive emotions with us and yet we dismiss or even punish the negative emotions.
In my experience (though it not be as vast as most) I’ve learned that they can and will become bitter if they’re forced to hide their true reactions to things. Our goal as parents should be to help them work through all of their feelings, and not to stuff them away, only to have to face them 20 years later in a mentally damaged state.
“Lys, I know you’re mad at me, and I understand why. I shouldn’t have reacted that way. Will you forgive me for hurting you?” As I spoke to her in the driveway, my tears flowed as freely as hers fell. She climbed out of the van and hugged me.
It seems we both still have much to learn.