Summer's halfway through. June with it's temperatures slowly rising and July with her fireworks, bare feet and drippy Popsicles. Your boy has sweat beads forming on his upper lip, resting there all masculine on peach fuzz. The bottoms of his feet are black from the pavement, and you holler, "wash those feet off before you get on the couch." It's all been good so far this summer, except for when it hasn't been good. Because sometimes boys get themselves all bound up into a negative place where only punches and complaints can make sense of it. Except it never does. Arguing, competing, fighting for the biggest piece of cherry pie never settles anything except for a mother's resolve to keep training those strong-willed boys.
Before I wake up I often hear words coming from their room, biting and unkind. I hear them jesting and jostling over the plastic tingling sound of a pile full of lego. What happened to their cheerful hearts and pleasant play? They're all flexing muscles now to the point of feelings torn and bruised. It's a competition - who can be the loudest or the rudest or say the meanest thing. Three brothers close in age, I get how it can happen in the sweetest families. But what to do when they raise your roof? When their hollers make us want to holler back?
I have a choice to make. Either jump into the ring and start swinging and yelling and fighting with the whole lot of them? "You be quiet! Enough! I'm not going to take that kind of attitude, young man! You want to fight? All right, I can fight. And you can bet I'm going to win this one too, because I'm the mom!" Or I can call each boy to his own corner (ding ding ding) and slowly walk around the outside of the ring.
Gently, with tender tones, I lean over the ropes, whisper into velvet soft ears, and remind them (yet again) how it is we love one another in our house.
How will you choose to communicate and lead your children? By joining the fight or encouraging those little fighters to drop their mitts?
Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.
Don't join the fight, moms, don't join the fight. Drop the rope if you're already engaged, then move up close and tell them, "Nope, I don't want to fight with you. I'm here to love you and teach you, I'm not here to fight you." Drop the rope, drop the towel down on the mat between your children, call the match off.
ding - ding - ding
Everyone to your corners.
Let your good and gentle words,
your good and gentle tones,
your goodness and gentleness
so shine before your children,
that they will see and hear your love
and glorify your father in heaven.
Refuse to join the tussle.
God made boys strong! Some of them uncomfortably so... Let us teach them gentleness with our gentleness, rather than trying to teach them gentleness by completing strength to strength. But if all this seems a bit too impossible, as you might be a strong-willed fighter too, then send yourself to your own corner... and let the Holy Spirit lean in calm and close and speak transforming truth clear and kind to your own burning up heart.
Everyone to their corners!
Sometimes that means you, Mom, too.