It was uncomfortable to watch a story that had clearly started well before I came into the scene. It was a busy shopping district. Everything was uptown. Designer stores dominated, although there were some interest boutiques and fun places to eat or have a coffee. Most of the people I was enjoying watching were dressed to shop – comfortable walking shoes and cool clothes. The kids tagging along were, in the main, excited to be there. You could feel their energy as they walked buy. Enjoying the scene, distracted, or tugging their parents hands – everyone was doing something! I could feel my energy level rising with every laugh and smile.
The uncomfortable part of the picture was one parent and child. He clearly did not want to be where he was! In little ways and big, he repeatedly made his feelings known. His mother, in body language and voice, had left her patience behind some time ago. With every cycle, her exasperation grew as her options disappeared. I had no idea how things started, how long they had gone on, or even the context, but my heart went out to them – individually and as a parent child combination.
As I remember the parenting situations I had been in that brought out similar emotions, I cannot remember one where I felt good about being the bad guy. The dominant memory was resigned sadness. I could feel my options slipping away even as a desperately searched for a way to communicate.
I can imagine being the child. I remember situations where my parents reacted like this mother. My plea was always “Take a deep breath, God; calm down – don’t be so hasty with your punishing rod.” (Psalm 38.1)
My thoughts as I struggle in difficulty; it hurts not to be heard even when you are. Punishment in this context seems hasty and unnecessary. It hurts to dispense punishment or bad events with a goal of restoration, even when there are no other options. At the end, the hope for both is the same – to be heard and restored.