Conversations with kids.
It’s the night following Josh’s first day of kindergarten. It was a great day! We had the wonderful new beginning of school, then hours at the local playground with friends, and then a celebratory dinner afterwards at IKEA. (Josh’s choice, for where to dine.)
At the end of this day, after we've brushed teeth and read stories, I’m sitting on Josh's bed beside him, tucking his soft brown blanket around his face, telling him again how proud we are of our big boy going to kindergarten. In response, he looks at me with big, expectant eyes and says, “Mommy, before I go to sleep, don’t you want to ask my forgiveness?”
Taken aback, I think for a moment or two. What am I forgetting? What is on my little guy’s mind?
Concerned, but also thankful that, apparently, he is trying to clear the air between us, I say, “Josh, what are you thinking about right now?”
Tilting his head and furrowing his brow, all sceptical, he asks, “Don’t you remember when you sinned against me today?”
Today was such a peaceful, grace-filled, gentle day. Many days are not. But today truly was. “Josh, I actually don’t know what you’re thinking about. But if I've sinned, I want to make things right. Can you tell me what you're thinking about?”
Sighing, and with eyes widening in exasperation that his Mommy isn’t remembering her heinous sin on her own, he speaks. “At the playground, Mom. Remember? Remember when you put me on a time out?”
“Yes, I remember. And I remember why you needed a time out, too! Wait… you think that’s a sin, Josh?” And suddenly, as I’m asking, I realize that, quite possibly, in Josh’s 3-year-old mind, every single time Justin or I have ever put him on a time out has been viewed (through his clearly warped theological lens) as a grievous offense. From his perspective, just think of the piles of unrepentant sin that he’s had to endure these past couple years. We’ve been clear (I thought!) and shared with our guys again and again that we discipline them because we love them. But apparently there has been a miss-communication. I ask a follow up question. “Josh, do you think that every time you’re put on a time-out we’re sinning against you?” His response is to the point. “Yes.”
Smiling, and with Justin listening in from across the dark, quiet bedroom, I was able to clear things up for my little man. There was no fake repentance, but I was able to remind him, once again, that, far from it being sin, our discipline is one of the most important ways that we love him.