This weekend provided about a weeks worth of blog material but I am going to start with last night, Halloween. Trick-or-treating. And one very unhappy 3 year old.
It was a long, busy, fun-filled weekend so it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that when I woke Devan from his short nap at 4:30 on Sunday he was in a terrible mood. Rolling on the floor crying, glaring, being incredibly rude and whiny sort of mood. Crying that he didn’t want to put on his costume, didn’t want to miss trick-or treating, didn’t want to behave, didn’t want anyone to talk to him, look at him, touch him. Craig and I made the call that trunk-or-treating at the nearby church would be skipped and we would load up the car and head home, at which point greater crying ensued.
Right before we left, at about 5:30 he sadly requested to put on his costume and so we did and loaded him up. Mom reminded me that he is only 3 after all, and he had been wonderful all weekend, and Halloween does only roll around once a year. True, but we were done and the decision was made.
But, less than 5 minutes from my parents house as we approached the church our hearts softened and Craig turned into the parking lot. One more chance. Be good. Say Thank You. Be grateful. Devan quietly went from car to car with a slight smile on his face and was extremely polite. He even pointed out other kids that weren’t behaving and mentioned how he was bad earlier but now he was going to be good. He said ‘thank you’ without fail and picked out the one piece of candy he would eat in the car.
And then? Anyone who has kids knows exactly what is going to happen, but we pulled out of the parking lot and we were right back to where we started. I know both Craig and I were feeling duped, and that we made a huge mistake letting him do this when he hadn’t earned it. Craig pulled in to get gas and slammed the door, leaving me alone with my grouchy child. And then (I’m not proud of this, just being honest) I turned to him and said: “Devan! If you were at home instead stuck in this car, I would spank you and throw away your candy! You are being so incredibly awful!” (Again, not proud, but that’s what I said.)
He started crying again, but this wasn’t angry this was sad, truly sad. And he said to me through the tears, verbatim: “I don’t want to be bad but I can’t help myself.” I told him he could try and he said, “I try to be good and I just can’t, I sorry.” And I knew he really was.
And I know parenting is like this, walking that fine line. When do I stick to my guns and when do I show grace. How do I raise a child who is not entitled but is not repressed. Who learns how to make good choices and knows there are consequences for bad ones. I don’t want to be a drill sergeant, but I’m not a door-mat either. God has shown me grace a million and one times, should I not do the same for my child?
I don’t know. We got home and I took him around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat and then we ended the evening with his favorite, PB&J and some hot chocolate. I told him I loved him even when he was bad and he told me he loved me too. And I asked him if I could have a piece of his candy and he told me maybe tomorrow. There is always tomorrow. For a new day and a fresh start, I am grateful.