June 13, 2011

Mercy vs Justice

This morning I was going to allow myself to sleep in.  Big Girl was sick yesterday so I am keeping her home from school just to be sure she is okay.  I am in a pretty happy stage with the boys who get themselves up and off to school without needing anything from me.  Sometimes I wonder if I should be up with them baking muffins and squeezing them good-bye after gently applying sunscreen.  Then after wondering that, I go back to sleep.

Sleep did not come easy last night due to an intense movie I watched that I probably shouldn't have.  So my overactive imagination kicked in and I dreamt about cutting off my arm to save my life while stuck in a canyon all night long.  I really needed to sleep in.  Instead I got a phone call on my cell phone at 6:25 am.  I jumped out of bed and ran to the spot where it is usually kept.  The ringing was coming from the right place but it wasn't there!  BTW I am the kind of person who is always calling her cell to find it's location.  Last time it was the pool bag.  This time I was in too much of a sleepy daze to notice it had been placed in the cubby hole below it's usual spot.  Whoever put it there must have been drunk.  Or overwhelmed with making meatball sandwiches for dinner on a fast Sunday or something.

The caller tried a second time on our land line.  This could only mean one thing -he/she was someone who knows me and my cell phone habits.  Someone like Middle Boy with a request at this early hour.  I turned to answer the land line and found the phone had not been hung up.  ARGH thought I!  Why is it so impossible for people to put things where they go around here?!  It was too early for this (as seen by my hypocritical thoughts).  I found another extension and answered the call from my son who was about to get on his bus.  He needed me to find a review sheet worth a lot of points that was due at 10:30 am.  For some strange reason he placed it on his desk and then emptied all the contents of a semester's worth of paperwork from all of his classes from his back pack burying the review sheet where it could barely be remembered, let alone found by a mother who still had sleep in her eyes and a sore right arm caused by weird sleeping positions.  Still I will be getting it there before his 10:30 am class.

Whenever this kind of thing happens (and it isn't often -so that is key I think), I am reminded of a friend I knew once who was so strict with her kids about being forgetful.  She had a 3 yr old son who forgot his pizza party money for a pre-school party and when the teacher paid for his portion that was NOT okay with my friend.  She had her son doing hard labor at home to earn the money to repay the teacher.  She read some book by the Eyres about teaching responsibility to young children.  My friend insisted that kids will rise to whatever level we expect of them.  She felt she was teaching her young son to rise up and be responsible but to me it looked like she was showing him how merciless his mother could be. If your pre-schooler forgets something I'm thinking that one should be on you.

It was just last fall when Middle boy (who forgot his Spanish review sheet), left his lacrosse gear unattended and it got moved to a secure location by another coach.  For a weekend we thought it had been stolen.  I was so mad at him for not heeding my last words while dropping him off at school to "not leave that equipment in an unlocked location." I could see that he felt pretty bad about it.  I was trying to decide how to handle this.  If he needed new gear who would be paying?  I consulted my magic 8 ball: Facebook.  After much back and forth with people suggesting hard labor at home for 4 months I got this response from the one guy that kept saying I should show mercy..."Here's the deal: We all learn justice by receiving it.  We only learn mercy by extending it (we kind of learn by seeing others extend or having it extended to us).  In this instance you're kinda forced to choose between your son learning justice, or you learning mercy.  As a general rule, simple existence in the world will teach justice; but the chances to extend mercy can become scarce.  As a parent, I'm not worried about how well I teach justice; that will get taught on multiple fronts.  But if I fail to teach mercy (by demonstrating it); well I don't even want to contemplate that."  While I can see the logic on both sides, this argument stuck me as more true.  IF my son did this kind of thing all the time it would be different.  But for now I am leaning towards mercy.  Because like my friend also said earlier "we are all beggars."  I lose my cell phone regularly.  He can misplace a Spanish review sheet now and then.


Melody said...

Great post, Kelly -- coming from a mom who rides her kids about the messes they make and the junk they lose but can rarely find her keys and secretly believes that even when the kids are grown and gone the house will still be a wreck. Humility plays a part here too.

Teachinfourth said...

I'm all about mercy...I want as much as I can possibly get as often as I can.