Quiet and common notions...shared here...with you! Of life ~ our hearts and our home.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

fight on the playground :: the lesson learned

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*photo taken in hot,hot summer of '09*
Recently, I took our two little ones to an indoor play-yard...just to get out of the house and have some fun.  Caleb refers to it as "the Park".

And fun they had.

Until... I hear some pretty serious crying.  With mother's ears tuning in, I realize that it wasn't just one but both of my kids SCREAMING at the top of their lungs.  I couldn't tell if it was a crying out of fear, kind of scream or from literal pain.  I still don't know for sure and probably never will - at least from Aubrey's perspective.

I'm standing - looking up - through the mazes of brightly colored nylon netting and padded bars; through the throngs of other (older) kids who are all clamoring, chasing and climbing just to get to the next level... who are all bullying past timid toddlers who are trying to feel their way in and around the "wide open spaces".

I still hear crying.

By the time I locate just where Caleb and Aubrey are... I can see my son up and swing and I mean, hit this other kid, very hard, across his head and yell - "Stop it!", with angry tears rolling off his face.

I was mortified.

My son.  My three year old son just had his first fight on the playground.  I couldn't even tell you who the other boy was or even what the other little boy looked like... I never saw him (for really looking at him) because, I was just so shocked at what I saw take place, from my son's "retaliation".

By now, the Little's made their way down out of the playground...and Caleb comes to me crying, "that boy itched me".  I can see huge, claw scratch marks down the side of Caleb's face. 

And, my heart broke.

By now Aubrey had joined us, and that was the end of the playground experience for her.  She pretty much stayed by my side for the next, however long- which was fine with me.

I comforted Caleb and told him that we needed to find that boy to apologize to him and yet, like I said - who was he??  and where was he ?? Sorry to say, we never did apologize. 

In the meantime.  Caleb was back in "the park", in full swing.  Having a blast.  Having fun...laughing and "making friends".  I'm still reeling, though... with thoughts... mulling over about what had just happened and the teaching moment I was going to have when we got home.


We really needed to head for home.  I was getting very hungry and when a pregnant mama needs to eat - it's time to find some food. Quick.

It was so loud in that play area and so to call for Caleb was next to impossible.  I waited until he would come down a certain slide or padded ramp and try to get his attention.  Apparently, he was on to me that we were going to need to leave this play-yard of fun... because no sooner would we catch eyes, he'd turn right around and back up into the colorful maze he would go.  ((sigh)).  I'd wait again.  I did try calling.  We'd catch eyes, once more and I'd mouth "come on, Caleb, it's time to go" and he'd just blatantly ignore me and keep on doing his thing.  By now, I was getting extremely frustrated.  This went on for probably 15 minutes or more.  I couldn't just leave Aubrey... I couldn't go up in there after him... I couldn't call him - so that he'd really hear me... I couldn't, I couldn't, I couldn't.

((you have to understand the layout of the place - when I say, that I purposefully stepped "out of eye sight" from him and began getting Aubrey ready to leave)). 

I began praying.  Lord, You are the one who is going to have to get Caleb out of "the park".  Because he was not coming out of there...on his own.

I took Aubrey to the bathroom - as she was begging badly to go ... and I just kept praying.  Sure enough - in a matter of maybe five minutes... I stepped out of the bathroom and Caleb was out of the large playground, in the baby play area playing with a "Bob the Builder" play station... like he was this perfect little angel, just waiting around for mom to come out of the bathroom.  Thank you, Lord!

We got our shoes back on, collected our coats and on out to the van we went.  I with a tear in my eye.  Or two, Or twenty. 

Oh, what a remorseful afternoon ensued.  Caleb knew that nearly every detail of that day in the park was a memory that won't be forgotten.  By himself.

I used that day as an opportunity to really bring home the fact that when mommy calls you - you need to listen.  You need to come when you're called.  The disciplinary action that followed and the hugs, prayers and conversation, with tears I believe really, really left an impact on him.

Here's why.

I am not joking.  At least twenty-five times a day, maybe more, since we've spent those couple of hours at that indoor playground,  I hear, this:

Caleb:  "Mom." 
Me:  "Yes Caleb."
Caleb:  "Sometimes, (long pause) I just want to go to the park.  And maybe next time, I say sorry to that boy.  That wasn't very nice (referring to hitting him back). ((and we'll  talk- again- in depth about forgiveness, and praying for that little boy, and being kind to others even when other kids don't act kind to us...))
Caleb:  "And I was just being a pirate".
Me:  "Okay. But ,you know, Caleb... pirates need to listen to their mommies, too".
Caleb: "Maybe next time,  (long pause) I'll listen to you."

The conversation is always the same, but with different twists, and I know -as my tears fall again- that in his little sincere and sensitive heart - he knew.  He knew that his choices, in that moment, on that day, were wrong when he choose to willfully disobey me and the retaliation towards that other kid...was displayed.

I realize.  He's all boy.  And he's three - going on four.  Kids get into tiffs and scuffles, and it's the way they learn...

Yet, I can see the growth taking place in his soft, little heart and his expanding mind continues to comprehend the lesson learned.

And the reference to "the park" ALWAYS comes up when there are continued -other - "teaching moments" right at home... where he'll say - just like at the park??  

Yes, Caleb - just like at the park.

: : How about you, with your parenting moments... have you had that moment of blatent, willful disobedience happen right in public?  This has really been my first, of the sort... perhaps, it's because we don't get out much.  I'm such a homebody and never go places, much, with the kiddos.  It's true!

I'm desperate for courage to go to the park again, just to see if he'll really put to practice what he's learned.


  1. Wow! Great post Bevy! I know my children have had blatantly disobeyed me in public and I remember being mortified. You handled this perfectly! What a wonderful testimony for your children.

  2. As I'm reading your story, I'm cheering you on!
    You did everything right!
    Yea... Mom!

    I hope this post will show other Moms, that if you rely on God and are strong in your discipline, you will be raising strong Christian children. Little Souls for God.

    Tears, yes, you will probably have more. But start and stay strong and you will be happy in the end!

  3. Wow Bev! That was your first? I have had too many. With three kids, a mom in various stages of pregnancy through their young years (because they sense weakness in a slower, emotional mom) and lots of playground time, and grocery store trips, there have been many, "mommy shouldn't have to tell you again" moments. Overall, they listen well, but they all have their moment, when they realize they are getting along without mom right now, having fun, and I think they just need to test how much they can get along without us. And then they need to be reminded, again, that they must obey us, because we know what is best for them, because thats the way God designed it.
    I also think its soooo hard for them to learn to forgive, especially when they are physically assaulted. You did everything right! And in such love....he will get it, maybe, when he's like 10 (just kidding, thats just my Aiden for ya). But its hard. They just react. There may be MANY return attacks before they can truely learn to forgive, ILO fighting back. Its hard...but hang in there!
    As always, thanks so much for sharing so openly. We are all in the same place, teaching our kids (over and over) the same things.

  4. So maybe I'm the only one who doesn't have a problem with Caleb hitting the kid back...if, in fact, the other kid was the one who started it. I don't know, but it's possible Caleb taught that other kid not to "itch" anyone else! I always tell my girl to never throw a first punch, but it's ok to defend herself if someone is hurting her or to step in if someone else is being hurt.
    However, the not listening part...yeah...I'm with you on that one!

  5. As we teach our children, we learn... They learn to listen, and practice self-control. We learn to be diligent and patient while trusting our Father when we can't seem to figure things out. You're little sensitive soul sounds like a source of constant trial and delight. Yes he's definitely three!
    Blessings, Debbie


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