We all get up somewhere between 6:00 and 6:15 to get seven kids out the door and on the bus by 7:15. That's just enough time to look over last minute homework, eat the first breakfast (nearly all the kids eat breakfast at school, too -- but that's just not enough to fill growing bodies), find lost shoes/jackets, sign permission slips, write notes to the attendance office, etc.
This morning, I dose three kids with cough medicine with the vain hope that they'll be able to manage the school day without coughing all over everyone. I send Konner upstairs to change from shorts to jeans because it's gotten a lot colder in the mornings. Then, I see that Kade is also in shorts.
"Go change into some long pants, Kade! Quick! The bus is coming soon!"
"I'm fine with shorts, Mom. It's not too cold out there," he says between fits of coughing.
"No, Kade. You need long pants."
"I don't have any long pants. Only jeans. They all have holes. Most of them."
"You have plenty of pants. Go! NOW!"
He comes back downstairs with pants in hand, still wearing his shorts, looking down the hallway at me in the most pathetic way possible. Keri Lynn, standing nearby, stiffles a laugh because he looks so down in the dumps.
"Kade, why don't you have your pants on yet?"
"I don't want to wear my pants," he whines.
I march into the laundry room to find an extra pair. I'm fuming by now. I know he doesn't want to wear long pants, but he needs to do so anyway. But, of course, there are no pants in the laundry room. And there is no time left.
"Fine, Kade! I don't care! Wear your shorts!"
And, in a childish fit, I slam the laundry room door and march off to the kitchen, already swimming in mother guilt for having shouted angrily at my child. He runs out the door and off to the corner to wait for the bus. Other kids come by with quiet treat-mom-gently kisses while I pray, standing at the sink. It is sometimes a daily prayer mantra, "Please, Lord, give me patience. I need patience, badly!"
Keri Lynn and Kathleen are always the last to leave for the bus, so I follow them out, leaving Keva inside, and call Kade back from the corner. There are a few minutes remaining to make things right.
His shoulders are slumped as he walks over to me, and I realize with a pang that I have indeed hurt him with my words. I kneel down to look at him.
He breaks down right away, "You're right, Mom. It is cold. I should have worn the long pants. I just wanted to wear shorts because everyone else is wearing them."
I give him a hug, "Kade, I'm sorry I got angry at you. I do care about what you wear, and I don't want your cold to get worse. It's important that you do what I say even when everyone else is doing it differently, but I shouldn't have gotten angry at you. I'm sorry," and I hug him again and kiss his soft boy face, relieved that I am not letting him leave home in confused anger or resentment or hurt.
I am once again reminded of an article I read long ago about anger and how it spurs our own children to further anger. It is one of the things I struggle with the most. The article gently reminds us as mothers to treat a child as we would like to be treated. If we need disciplining, we want it to be done in love, with gentle reproving words that care about our well-being, not words that hurt or shame. It is often our own pride that gets in the way. So, I remind myself once more to treat my children with the very dignity that God treats me.
Thank you, Lord, for bringing patience.