Sunday, February 06, 2011


I've reconstructed the piece I drafted and obliterated a few days ago.  From psychoanalysis to performance review...

Before this snow mess caused the closure of school for four days last week, I witnessed a scene after school one afternoon that sticks with me, especially juxtaposed against the scene that played out at home later that afternoon.

As I doled out the fruit snacks that are now somehow expected by my passengers once we arrive in the school parking lot, I saw what I presumed to be a father and son duo standing outside their SUV.  They aren't among the "regulars" of that parking lot (there are a few lots at school, and the ones who park where I do are mostly familiar to me now), so I took notice of them in an attempt to be observant of my surroundings.  The son was leaning up against the vehicle, his arms crossed and his head hung low.  His father took a similar stance as he stood facing the lad, arms crossed and back stiff.  The lad looked down at the ground, up at the sky, around the parking lot -- anywhere but at his father.  The father's body language suggested a chastisement being issued.

Down-dressing finished, the two got in their vehicle and left.  I offered a silent prayer for them, that there would be peace between them and a peaceful resolution to whatever conflict brought about the scene after school.  The lad may very well have "had it coming" to him for some poor choice he'd made before or at school, but I felt so badly for him to have had that obviously stressful encounter with his father upon their reunion after they'd been apart all day.

Back at our house later that afternoon, the elder lad was having some trouble respecting his siblings' personal space.  He's really made some great strides in the past several weeks in this area, showing great consideration of their feelings and wishes and offering his able assistance to them in many ways.  We've made sure to commend and thank him for these valiant efforts.  But we all have our moments of lesser than greatness, and he was having his.  It was happy hour, after all.  After fair warning, multiple attempts to engage him in positive interaction, and ample opportunity to remember himself and his young squire principles, I finally insisted he regroup in his room until he could treat others with the respect due them.  I wasn't exactly using my kindest voice as I led him to his room, but I made sure to let him know I would do the same for him should he be on the receiving end of similar garden variety (or worse) ill treatment from his siblings or anyone else.

Although my lad ultimately pulled it together and we ended the day in peace, I still rehashed the scene in my head when I followed through on the disciplinary measure I let him know he would incur (that of removal from the scene until he could be respectful of others).  I always do this, because I want to analyze the contributing factors that led to things coming to the point they did in an effort to minimize those that cause such trouble in the future, paying special attention to how I handled myself in the heat of the moment -- and how I can do better next time.

I pray that we who are entrusted with the care and tending of these young souls always exercise our God-given authority in as Christ-like a manner as possible, with love, gentleness, compassion, and a commitment to justice, so that our bambini will develop the self discipline to conduct themselves similarly.

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