Last Thursday, it snowed. Aren’t those fat flakes lovely? Yet it is such an uncommon occurrence for our climate, that it has everyone who lives here go into full panic mode. The media were issuing warnings for days. When it did, they shut down most of the schools for a few inches of powder (that was mostly gone by afternoon!)
It would have been perfect if it had fallen on quiet, laidback Friday. But no, it had to come early on Thursday, the boys favorite day of the week. They just love their Homeschool Co-op and their Book Club, and the friends they see there each week. Both activities were cancelled, because it was a legitimate risk that the innocent white snow would morph into treacherous black ice by evening. I agreed with the decision but it meant my house was suddenly full of half-men who wailed and insisted the snow wasn’t dangerous! And with that frustration, snuggled right up to it was Anger’s closest companion: grief.
Disappointment is one of the hardest emotions to feel. To make the best of a bad situation, and see the silver lining in dark clouds is a constant challenge to all of us, isn’t it? You cannot talk someone out of their pain, and it isn’t respectful or honoring to try. To diminish their experience because their emotions aren’t your own, is selfish and wrong. I will gently rebuke a boy if strong emotions start to veer into sinful behavior, but otherwise? I try to honor my child by honoring their feelings. I like my boys to be always cheerful, patient and grateful and so I chafe a bit when they are not, when they are real and fleshy and look the most like their sinful parents. That is when I sense myself wanting to make them feel and act differently. But when I have diminished my children’s strong feelings with statements like ” Oh come on, it’s not THAT bad. You are really making too big a deal over this. I think you are overreacting and if you don’t stop, I will GIVE you something to be upset about!”
I have been guilty of saying those things. Especially to my dramatic boy! But I’ve been convicted about what the unsaid words are behind my responses. What am I teaching him, then? You have to earn the right to hurt? You need to deny your truth to make others feel better? No one else feels the way you do, so you are abnormal? Stuff your feelings if they aren’t comfortable? Put on the happy christian mask?
No. I am seeing that, especially for my Caleb, who feels things so deeply–that squashing that passion into a smaller, more conveniently sized box? It isn’t healthy. The best way is what God suggests: “Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” Yes, even kids. It is affirming and soul building to look into little tear-filled eyes and respond with grace and understanding, like God does. Because even though you, in your wise adult perspective, knows the broken toy, the missed playdate, or the dropped ice cream cone is NOT the end of the world you see the disappointment and do not negate any pain. To parent like He does is to respond with tenderness and patience “I know. This stinks. I am here for you and you can feel what you feel.”
I was proud when the boys rallied, and put on layers of fleece, and doubled their socks to go outside. A major snowball fight to get out the aggression, then tromping in slush and smiling, and bellying up to the counter for mugs of creamy hot cocoa. A day of mercy and movies and Monopoly and it all turned out pretty good, after all…though Caleb was emphatic in his proclamation that
“It just better not snow THIS Thursday!”