Parenting

I Failed the Test

I pull out onto the opposite side of the highway to pass the vehicle in front of us.

“If we’re passing him, he must be going slower than the speed limit, right, Mom?”

“Uh … uh,” stalling, I lie, “That’s right, Sweetheart.”

“Well, we’re not speeding, right?”

“Nope,” I lie again, glancing down at the speedometer, knowing I am NOT going the speed limit. I am speeding, but … it’s … just … a little bit … only 10 kilometers per hour too fast. My usual speed.

Somehow, the conversation continues, and my daughter prods me further …

We’re going the speed limit, so anyone who passes us on the highway is speeding, right, Mom?”

Tempted to lie again, I opt to reduce my speed to the speed limit (or just a few kilometers above … like 105, instead of my usual 110) … like somehow this is better.

“That’s right, Sweetie.”

I’m disappointed in myself, once again, for lying, but also for speeding … all … the … time. My daughter is checking up on me, making sure that I am doing the “right thing.” After all, I am continuously encouraging her to do the “right thing.” She’s testing me, and, unfortunately, I failed the test. Without a doubt, abiding by the law (and driving the speed limit) is the “right thing.” One of my choices was to lie and continue speeding. And one of my choices was to just quit speeding. In this case, I chose to quit speeding (even though my daughter was actually already convinced that I wasn’t).

My mind flashed forward, of course, to when she’s a teenager and becomes a driver herself. I DO want her to be a cautious driver, I would want her to drive the speed limit (or at least within a few kilometers or so), and I would want her to stay off of her phone while driving.

So if I want that for my daughters, then I need to ensure I am setting that example for them now.

But, oh man, this is just one of those things that hurts a little … I just want to get where I’m going … and fast (I have three kids, remember? The big two are arguing or doing irritating little things, and the baby is probably crying or whining or she will be soon) … why is it so hard to set an example sometimes? Why can’t our kids just give us a little grace? It sucks having to be so “perfect” all of the time. Eat well, speak kindly, fulfill my responsibilities, complete a job well and to its end, pick up after myself, manage my emotions, exercise … there are … just … so … many … things … I have to do “right” all of the time … it’s exhausting having all of these little people watching me day after day after day. And, of course, I’m joking a little, but I really do want to just keep driving 110 on the highway when the conditions are right.

In a few minutes, our conversation turned to God making “speeders.” I reminded her that God gave people free will … that means we can choose … how to behave … what’s important … to speed or not to speed. I can choose to lie, to speed, to freak out on them, to slack off, to eat like crap, but … I … really … try … not to.

As my children age, I think it will be worthwhile to have conversations about “wiggle room” around rules or when “grey” is acceptable (and things don’t have to be quite so BLACK or quite so WHITE). Right now, though, they’re not ready for this. They desperately NEED me to be consistent, to be “rule abiding,” to do the right thing.

I encourage you to check out this sweet video, outlining this concept further … through analogy, of course. The video talks about teens, but I think it easily applies to kids in general.

I’ll see you on the highway, Folks … trying desperately to do the “right thing” and go ONLY the speed limit. Go ahead and wave as you pass! I’ll be sure to send a smile your way!

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