I confess. Once upon a time, meaning 1 minute before I had a baby, I thought that discipline was a cut and dry practice, that there were rules and penalties for breaking those rules, and probably some shades of gray therein.
I thought we came into the world with caretakers that were, capital "G" Good Discipliners, or the opposite of that. I thought that there were parents that were just ill-tempered and those with short fuses, and pushover Pollyanna-type Mr. Roger parents.
But then I had a baby. And that baby grew and learned to pull hair and wombat-teeth everything and cry at inopportune times and announce in the middle of a grown-up dinner party, "I'm SO poopy!"
I realized that discipline is not cut and dry, nor is it simply about molding a young life. Discipline, I have learned, is like the navigation of a pilot. Always hovering above or below the latitude and longitude of where you want to be, but rarely aligning with the exact coordinates.
Lovey Loverpants is an excellent co-pilot in all of this, so I give thanks for him, for helping me find my way back to that line of latitude I lost in the clouds of anger or pride. Although our approach to things is different at times, I know our goals are ultimately the same and that is so so wonderful. Still, discipline is actually disciplining the snot out of this mama.
I don't write often about the behaviors of Baby Girl we are trying to curb, partly because I am often bewildered/surprised by them, but also because I am still so much finding my way. I have realized that my own hypocrisy, my own sin invariably stares me back in the face when I am looking into that little dolly-done-wrong's eyes. It turns out that instructing your child to exercise some patience when you say it through gritted teeth, one arm holding her shoulder, the other arm twirling the Swiffer broom in the air ready to clear and karate chop a whole bookcase? Is not really effective.
I am a relatively patient person and yet when I am sleep-deprived and just got chewed out in an e-mail by a student and just burned myself on a cast iron pan because I was so tired I wasn't thinking USE OVEN MIT, and then my child starts whiiiiiiiining with a whine heard round the world, let us just say that in those moments, I would not be mistaken for Michelle Duggar.
But I have been reading a lot of Child Guidance by Ellen White, and this has truly changed my outlook on discipline. She says that there will be times when every parent's resources, good humor, and energy runs dry. In those times, it is necessary to call upon a Higher Power for strength. I thought it was okay, that I was just being human, when I became grizzly or lazy or both in those moments. But when I don't ask God for strength to endure and correct, I am doubting God's power to help me in my desperation. I am also inclined to borrow power from another source. White says that when we are cruel or violent toward our children, we are serving another master. That really pricked my heart, and so my constant prayer these days is that in disciplining my child, that I would be disciplined enough in doing so to call on God for the help from above of which I am so in need.