Who knew a 6th grader could still throw fits the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina? Just because I told her it was time for bed? I sat in amazement, dumbfounded, as my daughter contorted her body like a pretzel and screamed like a wild Banshee. What does one do in moments like this? I began meting out consequences with every refusal.
“Ok, you’ve just lost dessert until Friday,” I stated. A blood-curdling scream ensued accompanied by more writhing.”
“Nooooo!” she shrieked uncontrollably.
“You’ve just lost play time with Hailey on Tuesday,” I calmly stated. Maddie threw her body off the couch as if I’d hit her with a ton of bricks, continuing to cry and holler.
“Are you sure you want to keep doing this? Why don’t you just head to bed, so you don’t face anymore consequences?”
Completely unreasonable and uncooperative, Maddie incurred two more nights of “early to bed” before daddy stepped in, picked up the wild child, carried her to bed and slammed the door. Now we had to endure agonizing cries from behind the bedroom door.
Hubby and I sat in stunned silence in the living room wondering ‘what just happened?’ Who pulled the pin on the grenade that just blew up on us? Maddie’s explosive reaction created a domino effect that infused us all with anger.
We calmly discussed what advice Kevin Leman might give us and whether anyone might be in the market to buy a child who sometimes acts like a wild animal. We then debated how quickly we could get plane tickets to Timbuktu. In the end, we walked with some authority and sternness into the girl’s room and ordered her to get to bed now.
Bedtime cuddles were short and definitely not sweet. With a brief prayer and a matter-of-fact ‘I love you,’ I prepared to escape as quickly as possible. Maddie clung to me and whined, “Howwwww?”
“I love you,” I stated.
“Howwww?” she cried again.
“How can you love me?” she pleaded.
Ahhhh, this is what it boils down to, isn’t it? How can someone love us when we’ve disappointed and disobeyed so horribly? When we’ve thrown ourselves on the floor, kicking and screaming like a two year old, OR a 6th grader? Compassion and love poured out to my sweet girl who wonders if she is still loved after all these despicable acts.
“Do you know how God still loves us even when we make mistakes and fail?”
“Well, it’s the same with mommy and daddy. We love you even when you disobey and don’t do the right thing. Tomorrow, we get to start over. Okay?”
“I love you, Maddie.”
“I love you, too, mommy.”
And so, God reminds me of His incredible, abounding, unconditional love through this fit-throwing girl who stomps her feet and wants her way like I do so many times. And, I wonder too. HOW? How can God possibly love me when I demand my way, disobey His word, and disappoint Him so frequently? And, yet, He does! For that, I’m eternally grateful.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17b-19)