I don’t know about you, but some days, it feels like I’m just living on the second chances people give me. Grace is a hot commodity in this world, and it seems like we generally prefer to get more than we give. I know I do. I was born judgmental, and it’s real work for me to knock it off and show some freakin’ mercy, sometimes.
Case in point, I am in a women’s small group at church that is presently reading No Drama Discipline. It’s a great idea. For those of you who like being told your wrong. Now, that’s not how the book is written, it’s a solid read with great science behind it. Totally legit- I’m not knocking it. But I don’t like being told how to act when I’m angry. It doesn’t feel good to change my habits. Plus, I forget a lot of new concepts in that heated moment between me and my spawn when I need them.
Thankfully, those attending the class were provided with these neat little laminated note cards that we can put in easy to see places, reminding us of what to do if any of our blessed lambs stay off the beaten path. We simply ask ourselves 3 questions. Why is your kid acting this way? What do you want to teach them? How are you going to do it? These are the foundations of the book.
Meanwhile back at the Ranch, I have my little notes up in the kitchen. The kids love ’em. It gives them hope, I’m sure. Yesterday Manchild was fussing on the floor, rehashing my reaction to a fit he had been having previously. He disliked what I had asked him to do, then disliked even more my reaction to his initial disobedience.
“You didn’t ask me if I was hungry! You didn’t ask me if I was tired! You didn’t try to find out why I was acting this way…!”
Now, it’s one thing to be annoyed at failing to meet the goal of a parenting book (and in my defense, I had just fed him). But its a bird of an entirely different feather to have your 5yr old pointing out to you exactly which step you failed at in the parenting book, AND HE CAN’T READ!! How did he know this stuff anyhow?! How can he learn how I should discipline him, but he can’t manage to learn do the things that would alleviate the need for the discipline in the first place?! Argh.
Anyway, I’ve learned to accept my short comings for the most part. My feelings aren’t even hurt anymore when Manchild tells me tonight that he would stay in his seat more during dinner if the meals I cooked tasted better. Oh well, can’t win ’em all. I generate forgiveness for his statement, then continue on my feed-nurture-bathe-repeat, cycle of parenting. Tomorrow night, he’ll get another chance at the dinner table. This is grace.
Today I opted to give a second chance to a different area of my life. Chickens. See, for the past 3 years, all I want is one loving, snuggling, cuddle-able lap chicken. If you Google “Friendliest Chicken Breeds”, I have them all. Or I have at some point. But they have all failed me. None fly up to my shoulder to greet me, or jump in my lap like other people’s adoring hens do. No, mine prefer to run. Away. From my loving hands.
The breed to fail me the most was the Silkie. This is a truly soft and fuzzy chicken who has unique feathering that is unlike anything else. They look like woolly Muppets. Now this is the ultimate passive, low-man-on-the-totem-perch, docile breed. Anything gentler would be dead. I had 2 a few years back, both were scared poop-less of me. I don’t know why, I bring the food! But I sold the cute one and ate the ugly one, and that was the end of that. I wrote Silkies off as never to be purchased again. Google LIES!
Until today. While shopping for rare breed chicks as a wedding gift for my cousin, I saw a pen of Silkie chicks. My heart melted just a little. They sure were cute! I questioned the sale price…then picked one out. For the Bride, of course. Not for me.
But when adding this cottonball with talons to the cage of other chicks I had acquired, I noticed she was getting picked on. My heart surged for this super, super, cute little fuzzbucket, and I had to scoop her up for some love. I melted. My flock was going to be less bossy and aggressive than the Bride’s would be. Maybe I should keep her… And that’s how I ended up starting tonight’s blog with a white/gray/blue (“Splash” is the technical color in Chicken Speak) chick sleeping soundly on my chest, with a good buddy for comfort.
It’s definitely good for the soul not to be so rigid, but to take another chance in giving someone (or something) the benefit of the doubt. This is the stance I take on potty training Manchild. One day, not this week, not this month, he WILL get it. He will take ownership of his bowls and plumbing, and not wait for external forces to govern his next move. Like the effect of cold wet pants on your wee bits. That is what I was hoping for when, after loading 340lbs of pet food and bedding at Tractor Supply, then strapping in 2 kids, Manchild yells “I HAVE TO POOP”!
Back out of the van goes Manchild, back out of the van goes Girlchild. Running after her sibling as fast as she can, both kids head to the farthest, way far away, back corner of the store towards the restrooms. Thanks a heap, Tractor Supply. Moments later, after locking the car (knowing my mad wiping skills will soon be required), I burst in through the doors of Tractor Supply, sprinting past Lauren-the-cashier, who literally just checked us out 3 minutes ago. “POTTY TRAINING!” I yell towards her confused face, as I jog past her like the 3rd Billy Goat Gruff in this deranged fecal parade. Good grief, I think, he’d better get the hang of this soon!
Second chances can come in handy, and we all need them whether we like it or not. So let’s hand out a little more grace than we’re used to, assume the best in each other, and pray that Manchild learns to stop peeing in his pants. After all, one day he may be seated next to you, and you’ll have to show him mercy when he flashes those big blue eyes up at you and smiles, as your seat slowly grows damp.