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    Lessons From the Park

    March 30, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    I took the children to the park yesterday after lunch {before their 1:30 nap}. I always have mixed feelings about the park. Our backyard has yet to be landscaped, and is an effectual wasteland, save the small plot of rye grass Si thoughtfully planted for us {we are renters, so we are trying not to spend our money on someone else’s property, especially when that someone else promised to put in a backyard over a year ago}. So the park, with its perfect grass and exciting toys, has its appeal.

    It also has a generous supply of bratty children, negligent mothers (typically, these mommies run in packs, which tends to be the cause of why they do not keep an eye on their children), and so on.

    Hence, the mixed feelings.

    Anyhow, the park is always a good place for lessons, and today was no different. For instance, A. learned not to eat the bark. And poor E. learned that all children are not as delightful as they look.

    There were these two beautiful little children. The youngest was a girl about E.’s age. Perfect skirt, perfect shoes, perfect hair, etc. She was a bit overdressed for the park, but it didn’t seem to deter her from playing. Her older brother was at least five, but probably six {he had on a kindergarten T-shirt advertising a local parochial school}. They both had perfect blue eyes. Did I mention I thought they were beautiful? Well, on the outside, they were.

    E. was playing on the new jungle gym, and I was following A. around while she learned to walk on a new surface {the bark that looks like food to her}. After about 10 minutes, E. walked up to me and informs me that Beautiful Boy doesn’t like babies. I try not to talk about people in front of them, so I just acknowledged what he said, and considered myself warned.

    Beautiful Boy proceeded to run past A. and me, and brush against A.’s shoulder. She teetered a little, but did not fall. This happened again. And then again, but on the third time he actually bumped her a bit harder, causing her to falter once more.

    I am always cautious about correcting children whose mommies I do not know, but here was a kindergartner deliberately trying to knock over a 13-month-old girl! So I very sternly turned to him after the third pass and said, “You do not knock her over. Do you understand?” He stood there with his back to me and did not move. So we walked away, and that was the end of my trouble with Beautiful Boy.

    But Beautiful Girl was just beginning. She claimed the main tunnel of the jungle gym as her own, and rudely told the other children to go away. Beautiful Girl wasn’t much of a prize, either, though her behavior was a bit more within the realm of “normal.” Later, Beautiful Girl’s little friend was helping her form a club so that they could hurt the feelings of a little 2-year-old girl by excluding her. The little child seemed confused, cried, and ran to her mommy.

    And I still have no idea where the mommies were as this was going on, though there was a Mommy Clique meeting nearby, ignoring their children, which is their tendency.

    On the walk home I asked E. how he knew that that little boy did not like babies, and he said Beautiful Boy had volunteered that information, shortly before beginning his attempt to hurt A. And so we were granted the opportunity for a lesson.

    We talked about how much God loves little children, even little babies. I reminded him that even grownups have to become like children when they come before God. We talked about how the boy’s problem was not that he didn’t love babies, but that he didn’t know and love Jesus, because if he did, Jesus would be teaching him to love what God loves, including little baby girls.

    E. was quiet for a while after our talk, probably rethinking it all {knowing him}). And I was, too. I wondered what the home life was like for this little boy, that he had learned to dislike sweet little babies. I wondered what kind of father he had, that he would aim his aggression at a tiny, barely-walking baby in a pink dress, instead of another little boy more his age. Why did he seek out the weakest person on the playground? Why did his sister seem to do likewise?

    I think that the weaknesses a child reveals in a public place like a park are very telling. I often see my own flaws, magnified about 10 times, display themselves in my son. But sometimes I just see gaps in teaching, lessons I forgot to cover {like the time I realized he didn’t know how to introduce himself or shake hands}. Either way, I’ve learned that when there is a larger crowd on the playground, the closer I must watch, because it is even more likely that I will see a character issue I need to combat.

    But today I saw a strength, and that satisifies my soul. I could tell by his body language when he came to me that this was not E.’s typical tattling. He felt protective of his sister. He stood by, on alert, pondering what to do about this big boy’s harrassment of his sister. And I saw in him the glimmer of the fine man he will grow up to be.

     

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    4 Comments

  • Reply Brandy March 31, 2006 at 6:21 am

    Yes, I changed the background. I’ve seen a lot of people using the traditional Scribe template, so I decided to mix it up a bit. =)

    As far as the children in your church misbehaving, well…God actually takes that very seriously. I thought I’d share this verse before I turn in for the night. In I Timothy 3, the list of qualifications for a bishop (or elder) are listed. In verses four and five, it is explained that an elder must be a man “who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?”

    So your question of “how can you lead people when you can’t even get your kids under control?” that you are asking is actually revealing a spirit of discernment. God says the answer is they can’t, and He goes so far as to forbid it.

    The sad part to me is that when the Church allows men to lead who cannot lead their homes, it sends the message to those men (and everyone else) that leading a home as God instructs is unimportant. And then the children are cheated out of a good upbringing. =(

  • Reply Grace March 31, 2006 at 5:43 am

    Hey, did you change your backgroud? It’s nice.

    Continuing on with this subject regarding misbehaving kids…the saddest part to me is that all the kids who are misbehaving, that I know of, all goes to church. Which means, their parents goes to church. Some of their parents are even leaders in the church. But the truth is that they aren’t effective leaders either. That has always bothered me a bit about the church. Good thing I don’t attend there anymore, but seriously, how can you lead people when you can’t even get your kids under control?! That really bothers me.

    Wow, I didn’t know I’m so sensitive to this subject!

  • Reply Brandy March 30, 2006 at 10:01 pm

    It really is saddening. I mean, kids are born sinners, so it doesn’t concern me that they misbehave per se. It concerns me that there are no repercussions!

    I remember when E. was about A.’s age, I used to attend a mother’s group. I quit going because he would come back with bad behavior that I had to deal with daily for up to a week! But what I learned was that he only imitated the behaviors that the children weren’t disciplined for. In other words, he saw a boy hit, but that boy’s mommy disciplined him, so E. didn’t come home hitting. But he saw a boy licking people and furniture, and that mommy ignored it. So I had to reteach E. that licking was unacceptable. Kids learn by watching other kids’ parents, too. Yikes!

  • Reply Grace March 30, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    Go E! I’m so proud of him! He’s such a good big brother!

    I’m right there with you about thinking what makes kids the way they are. I’ve definitely have come across parents who lacks in the disciplinary area. Their children will freak out, but they just see it as “an a way to express themselves.” I just don’t don’t get it!

    So, “bravo” for saying something to the Beautiful Boy. My friend, who’s a Children’s Pastor, has experienced times when kids on Sunday morning would misbahve right in front of the parents and the parents just ignore it. She’s decided that she is going to discipline the kids in front of them. This isn’t to belittle the parents or anything. It’s to help them understand that their kids can’t keep being rude and destructive on a church property.

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