Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Short Story that Assulted My Heart

Grace-Based Parenting
I am reading Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. It is excellent and I recommend all Christian Partents read it.

There is a reason I am reading this book. I need to show much more grace to my children. I am a hard liner and have high expectations of my children. High expectations can be good but when joy is gone and relationships are being torn down in the process it is not healthy. Constant assessment is necessary. How quickly we forget. I know I need constant reminder. To be gracious and to remember what Christ has done for me ~ a sinner.

I am going to directly quote Dr. Kimmel as to not mess up the story. My question to you is... Are you this kind of parent? or wife for that matter? I am. I need a softer heart. My prayer is Lord, change me. Let me love them. Soften my heart and let me see as you see.

Kimmel writes, "I was sitting in a hotel resturant in Portland, Oregon. It was a Sunday Morning. I was catching a plane around noon, which afforded me the luxury of enjoying a leisurely breakfast. This restaurant offered an all-inclusive breakfast buffet, with a lower price for kids.

A mom arrived with her two children: an infant and a boy approximately four years old. I noticed the boy right away. His face was filled with excitement, and his mouth was running a mile a minute as they circled the buffet line so that Mom could see the options. His mother held the infant while the boy followed along. He could barely contain his excitement. He saw fruit, the varieties of cereal, the pancakes and waffles, and the station where the chef made omelets to your specifications. Then I watched his eyes pop out his head as he studied the trays full o f breakfast "desserts" - blueberry muffins, bear claws, and assorted Danish. This brief chance to watch this enthusiastic boy check out the breakfast buffet quickly became the highlight of my morning. I was watching a boy designed by God take a big breath out of every moment.  He was absolutely in love with his surroundings. He looked like a boy who had gone to food heaven.

The hostess seated Mom and her two kids at the table directly across from me. The waitress filled thier water glasses adn asked if she could bring any coffee for the mother or juice for the kids. She asked if they were going to have the breakfast buffet.

"My husband will be down in a few minutes," the mother replied. "He and I are going to have the buffet. You can bring a bowl of cornflakes and some milk for my boy."

"Mom, no! I want to have the buffet too!" the boy instantly responded. It was obvious that this boy had already mapped out his plan on how he was going to attack this buffet.

"You can't eat all that food. Most of it is just sugar. Forget it," the mom said curtly.

"But Mom, I like that kind of food, that's what I was hoping for. Please?" he pleaded.

"Forget it; you are not having the buffet, so hush up." She turned her back on the boy adn started to tend to her infant.

"Ma'am, for just a dollar and a half more than cornflakes, he could have the buffet," the waitress offered. She could see how anxious the boy was.

"No thanks. He doesn't need all of that food." The look on her face was a clear look of dismissal to the waitress.

As the mother preoccupied herself with her baby, I watched this young boy who had been so filled with excitement start to quietly turn into himself. And then the tears started. His anticipation and excitement had been stilted. I gave the boy credit. He didn't cry out loud. He didn't argue, fuss, or make a scene. He just sat there and quietly hurt.

Dad arrived with the newspaper under his arm, sized up the situation, sat down in his chair and asked the boy why he was crying.
"I wanted to have the buffet, but Mom doesn't want me to."
He turned to his wife. "What's up? Why can't he have the buffet?"
She gave him the same practical and nutritional arguments she'd given the boy a few minutes earlier.

"Look, we're on vacation," Dad said. "He's never had an opportunity to do this before. The difference in cost is chump change. We  can easily afford it.  And as far as  waste goes, what we don't eat they are most likely going to throw away."

There was a brief back-and-forth discussion before the mother gave in and agreed to let the boy have the buffet. His countenance immediately reverted back to that  excited little boy  who made the inital review for food stations. Within a minute, son and father were off to attack the buffet.

I had so much fun watching this boy go from station to station to get a little bit of everything. He saw people  toast their bagels, so he did it, too. He could barely reach the toaster, but an older lady took joy in helping him work it. He got pancakes and a waffle and piled syrup and whipped cream on them. I loved the way he got in the omelet line, waited his turn, and then told the chef what he wanted, which was a little bit of everything. His final trips out were to the dessert station. I say trips because he made two. Before he was done, he had a sampling of each of the little desserts that had been laid out.

Meanwhile, Mom was feeding the baby, and Dad had taken a position at the table where he could spread out his newspaper. When the boy got all that he had been looking forward to having, he commenced to work his way through the breakfast feast.  I was completely enjoying watching this little boy getting to experience this rare treat.

That's when Mom finally finished all feeding responsibilities of her infant and turned to study the various plates of food in front of her son.
And she started.
"Why did you get both pancakes and waffles? And what's with all the whipped cream? You've never had that before. Did you have any idea of what you were putting on this thing?
She got her husband's attention. "Look at all of this. He even got an omelet."
She turned her attention back to the boy. "Why on earth did you order and omelet?" she demanded. "There is no way you can eat all of that." Pointing to the desserts, she said, "You get one, count'em, one of these desserts. Pick the one you want because I'm gonna bring the rest back. Why do you need dessert anyway? It's breakfast, for crying out loud."

As she went through her diatribe, I watched the boy's countenance fall. This time it looked like a combination of helplessness and hopelessness. He tried to eat everything on the assorted plates, but his mother reminded him several times how foolish he had been for getting so much stuff. As promised, she took all but one of the desserts away from him and then berated her husband for not listening to her. Once she ad adequately spoiled everyone's meal with guilt and condescension, she stood up and passed through the buffet line for herself. I just sat there and watched a little boy slowly eating his waffles, whipped cream coming out from the corners of his mouth, with tears streaming down he young face. By the time his mom got back, all the joy had drained from him.

My questions are these: Was it worth it? Is that how God treats us? Does God tease us with good things, insult us for being excited about them, and then scold us for enjoying them? He is a God of Grace......

Eventually this boy will grow up and become a young man heading out on his own. I don't doubt that he'll feel that his mother loved him, but unless she changes the way she's operating, he has little chance of leaving home with secure love - the kind of love that has registered on his heart that his parenets enjoy him just the way he is.

This story struck a chord in my heart. I am very task oriented and thing much like this mom. I need to slow down and THINK about what I am saying, and how it affects others.
In fact, when I was reading this I was sitting in the opening of our mini van door because our youngest had fallen asleep on the way home from church. My husband went in the house with the other two children and he fed them some lunch. I was happy to get a quiet moment to read while the baby slept. After a few minutes of reading. My husband came outside and said, "Here you go!" and happily handed me a sandwich he had prepared for me! Would you believe what I did? I said, "You said that so loud! Now you woke up the baby!"

Oh, my sick and sinful heart. I could have said, "Thank you so much for makeing this for me!"
Instead, I overlooked the sweetness, the joy, the servant heart and pointed out the inconvience and annoyance that I felt.

I don't know about you. But I NEED to work on this. Being a mom can get you trapped in a one track thinking mode. I need to step back and peek inside at the tone I am setting for my family.

I WILL do better! Starting TODAY!


Anita said...

My heart was hurting as I read that story. But I could definitely see myself in some ways in that woman.

LaToya said...

This is wonderful!!! Being a single mom and a fulltime law student I am often short with my boys. I don't mean to be but the exhaustion and frustration often get the better of me. I am working on doing better as well!

troberts said...

Thanks for sharing this story with your readers. It can be hard to see our own ugliness displayed in the actions of other people. Fortunately for us, we serve a God of grace.

Glad you're enjoying the book!


Karis Murray
Creative Director
Family Matters
(Dr. Kimmel's ministry)

Shelley said...

Oh, I so needed to read this today!! I need to find the patience that God so lovingly has with me and bestow that upon my children. Thank you for the wake up call. I am following over from the blog hop. I hope you can stop by my blog and check it out. Cute blog and can't wait to read more.
God Bless,

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