Thoughts to Chew On

"What are you eating?!" I asked with dread, knowing I had not given Number 3 anything to eat before entering the bookstore together. He opened his mouth, revealing a gray piece of gum, clearly not fresh. I'm sure I did a grossed-out-shiver-dance and quickly deposited the gum into the nearby trashcan.

"Where in the world did you get the gum?" Thus began the inquisition involving such questions:

"Did it have a wrapper on it?" "Did someone give it to you or did you find it? "Do you realize how dangerous and disgusting that is?"

His answers:

"Did it have a wrapper on it?" No. "Did someone give it to you or did you find it? No. "Do you realize how dangerous and disgusting that is?" No.

"Where in the world did you get the gum?" He led me out of the store and stopped in the middle of the parking lot. He pointed emphatically at the asphalt, from whence all used gum flow. I'm sure I did the dance again.

What followed was much instruction given about gum, parking lots, permission to eat, and food that has been in other people mouths....and how I was motivated out of love, but would undoubtedly apply serious consequences should he choose to peel masticated food off the parking lot again.

Not two hours later, I found him under the grand piano with a very long screw driver and four screws successfully removed from the instrument's frame. Serious consequences were swiftly applied.

There's always one child in every family that seems to produce a few more gray hairs than the others: the child that survived both licking the floor at Wal-Mart and setting off the alarm at the Apple Store. And while this child's curiosities and shenanigans can often cause headache and grief, his smile and exuberance buffers the hours spent in correction and discipline.

Whether it's foolishness or outright disobedience, do you not marvel at how much we can be like my Number 3 as children of God? How often do I undiscerningly seek to satisfy my appetite with distasteful and foolish things and thoughts? How easily I go and do the very things I ought not to, and take into my own hands that which is the Lord's property and craftsmanship?

Ultimately, it's not just curiosity and shenanigans at the heart of disobedience, is it? It's a belief that our way is better, which is sin. When my child chooses to do something foolish, it is because his sin informs him that an illicit piece of gum, or secretly disassembling a piano is better than my instruction, better than what I've provided. The same heart issue is in us.

This small reminder informs my attitude as I seek to instruct and correct my children. God give us patience and teachable hearts!