Speak the Truth

Chicago Skyline  January 3, 2014

Chicago Skyline January 3, 2014

“If you don’t quit crying, I’ll leave you on this airplane!” (mom)

“NOOOO, don’t leave me…” followed by louder wailing (child)

“Stop crying right now or I’ll give back all your presents to Santa!” (mom)

Don’t give back my presents… louder crying (child)

This is the exchange I (and the other approx. 105 passengers) heard as the airplane had landed at O’Hare airport. We were waiting to dock at the gate and disembark. I’m sure the mother and child were very tired after this last leg of a long flight. Both were stressed by the cramped quarters and the extended wait. My heart went out to this mother and her difficult situation.

Yet I was struck by this mother’s unsuccessful efforts to quiet her child.

She lied to her little girl.

1) The mother was NOT going to leave her child on the airplane. The flight attendants would make sure of that!
2) The mother was NOT going to give Santa all her child’s toys. Send them to the North Pole?
3) Her threats were not working. Each comment resulted in renewed crying at an even louder volume.

The above situation was an overt attempt to calm a distressed child by using threats. Yet it is an easy trap for ANY parent to fall into.

1) “If you don’t stop I’ll turn this car around and go back home!” Really?
2) “If you don’t share with your brother, I’ll take all your toys away!” All the toys?
3) “You do that once more I’ll put you out of this car and you can walk home!” Safety?
4) “You won’t leave the table until you finish everything on your plate!” Everything?
5) “If you don’t find your shoes and put them on, I’ll leave you!” Alone?

It is so easy to make sweeping statements when we are frustrated, pressed for time, or embarassed in public. When we do this we are not only lying to our children, we are showing them that we do not really mean what we say.

In Scripture, the disciple Matthew records what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is sitting on a mountain and teaching a crowd of people. He says:

Matthew 5:34-37 New King James Version

34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

This is a good principle for those of us who are parents and grandparents.

Say “Yes” or say “No”.

Anything else complicates the issue and often makes it easier for the child to argue. It is definitely harder to dispute a simple “no” or “yes”.

I do feel there are times when an explanation is warranted and even helpful. Yet, when parents and children are stressed, upset, or tired, reason tends to flee. The explanation may just prolong the agony.

The challenge for us as adults is to speak the truth in love, firmly, but in love.

Speak the truth – no means no.

Road Trip

We took a road trip to Wheaton, Illinois, my home town, this past weekend. “We” consisted of our youngest daughter, her four sons aged 3, twins aged 21 months, baby aged 5 months, and myself. We left Dillsboro, North Carolina at 12:00 noon on Thursday and arrived in Danville, Kentucky at 4:30 pm.  We spent the night there with our daughter’s friends and drove the rest of the way Friday arriving in Wheaton at my brother and sister-in-law’s (30 miles west of Chicago) at 3:00 pm. We then attended a soccer match at Wheaton College at 4:30. If your head is spinning, so was mine!

The purpose of the road trip was the 25 Year Celebration of the Women’s Soccer program and all former players were invited. Saturday also included events celebrating the soccer program’s anniversary. We visited with family Saturday evening and Sunday,  and then left to drive back to North Carolina on Monday morning. This part of the trip was a 12 hour drive, including three stops for meals and stretching legs, and an extra stop for gas.

Right now several of you are thinking…”Is she CRAZY?!!!! Admit it – you think we were out of our minds to travel over 1200 miles with four little boys in just a long weekend. The facts are that the trip went extremely well. The boys were well-behaved and there was only one time each day when they started fussing, right before supper. (that often happens when they are at home – the “whine-while-mom-fixes-supper” hour)

Looking back on my childhood, I have several fond memories of road trips. In fact, my brother and I reminisced about several of these last weekend. We traveled to Yellowstone National Park in 1958 in a sedan with a small hole in the rear floor board. We enjoyed dropping things through the hole and then watch out the back window as those things bounced around on the pavement. We looked for letters of the alphabet, “collected” state license plates, and sang songs for mile after mile. My younger brother also slept on the ledge behind the back seat. There were no seatbelts at that time, we just rolled around the back seat when the car went around curves. (I was so thankful for car seats on our recent road trip! Four floating, rolling, bumping little boys is not a pretty picture.)

Our daughter planned well for the trip. I know that attributed to the contented attitudes of the boys AND the adults. Here are some thoughts on making road trips kid friendly:

  • Have each child pack a tote with a few favorite toys and books. This helps your child feel secure and happy.
  • Have snacks that are non-messy. This makes less mess and avoids sticky car seats, windows, hair, etc.
  • Time trip to fit child’s schedule. We left after lunch so the boys would take their nap. It worked!
  • Plan to stay with family/friends who have children/grandchildren with similar ages as your children. The first night we stayed with a lovely young couple who had two boys. They had toys and a kid friendly home –  our boys felt at home right away. We had a delicious meal and then walked to a park where all five boys ran and played. We spent the next three nights with my brother and sister-in-law. They have a precious 6 month-old granddaughter so they also had toys and a port-a-crib. They took us to a farm/zoo for a picnic lunch which we all thoroughly enjoyed!
  • Save a new book or toy for that time when your child is travel weary. You will know it is time to break out the new toy because you start to feel crabby yourself!
  • Have favorite music to play and sing along. It may also be helpful to do hand motions. If you don’t know what the hand motions are – make some up. Even this limited movement makes riding in the car less tiresome.
  • Stop for meals, gas, and stretch/bathroom breaks where your children can move about. We stopped for two meals at places with a playground. This was so good for the boys to climb, slide, and jump. Another place had picnic tables and a bit of room to walk around.
  • Story tapes are entertaining and distracting for children 3 years and older.
  • Coloring books and puzzle books are great as soon as your child won’t eat the crayons. We weren’t there yet.
  • Talk about what you see out the window. We saw HUGE wind mills in Indiana, cows and horses on farms, several long trains, lots of farms, and the favorite of our crew – TUNNELS!

It is so easy as we get tired while traveling to snap at one another, become irritable, and fuss and whine. Yes, I mean we adults! Jesus faced a situation on one of His journeys where a huge crowd had followed Him and people were crowded around (somewhat like inside a van with 6 people?) and making demands. (I’m tired…. I’m hungry…I don’t want to share…)

Mark 10:13-14  (NLT)

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

14 When Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.

This is such a lovely picture to me. I want to be like Jesus. I want to reflect our Father’s love to these children that are so precious in His sight. We all have blown it just as these disciples did and been impatient with our children and grandchildren. But we don’t have to remain that way. We can choose to embrace and accept them just as Jesus did.

Oh, by the way….. for those of you who read the post last week No Sense of Direction – our daughter navigated and we did not get lost once! (the two times I suggested an alternate route, she didn’t follow it – it’s a good thing – I was wrong)