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Little girl sticking out her tongue and pulling on her pigtails

Parenting is a great metaphor.

I walked into Lucy’s room at 4pm to wake her from her nap. She wasn’t in bed. Instead, she was squatting on top of her dresser, rummaging through a bag of consignment clothing. She wore a bathrobe over her clothes, and toys were strewn across the floor. Though recently potty trained, the smell of poop filled the room.

She looked stricken when I entered. It was clear that there had been no napping. Our characteristically sweet girl had made a foray into misbehavior.

She started crying and continued to cry while we peeled off soiled panties and cleaned up the room. After some time in the bath, we talked about making better choices. 

The experience was inconvenient (and a little funny), but it also feels meaningful. I can’t stop thinking about how and why I misbehave, and how Heavenly Father responds to me.

Lessons —

Better to say, “You made bad choices” than “You are naughty.” Bad choices, good girl.

It was Lucy’s second accident that day. Isn’t that how it goes? She’s usually potty trained, but one accident almost always triggers a second. Why is misbehavior catching?

It’s easier to misbehave in private. Typically when Lucy is about to break a rule, she yells, “Don’t talk to me, Mom!” and then runs to the place of offense and closes the door behind her. I do the same thing. When I know deep down that I’m disobeying the Spirit, I stop praying. In essence, I’m saying, “Don’t talk to me, God!” I can’t bear to hear Him tell me no, so I simply ignore him.

Once clean and calm, we can talk about improvement. It would do little good to reason with Lucy while she’s sitting in filth on the top of the dresser. And as long as she’s crying, she’s helplessly ashamed. But in the warmth of a bath and with plenty of assurances that she’s a good girl, she is willing to make promises toward better behavior.

As with a two year old, so with a thirty year old.

Thanks for the life lessons, little girl.

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Jenny Harris
Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she’s crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family’s goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.

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