Diapers and Dragons

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When We're All Just Angry Children Deep Inside

DramaBoy gets a little confused sometimes about the purpose of apologies. He does something I've clearly said is a no-no, he's warned about the consequences, and he does it anyway. He then flings himself into I'm sorry, Mama!s once I enforce the consequences--usually the loss of playtime or TV or some other desirable privilege--and then does not understand why my forgiveness does not equal a rescinding of the punishment. Usually, he then dissolves into pouting or outright tantrums, angry at me for being so unreasonable and cruel.

Maybe it's confusion over those two concepts: punishment vs. consequence. Punishment, I think, is like when I'm just fed up to the gills with the boys getting out of bed a million times after promising they won't, so I give them a swat on the diapered behind to drive home my point. Consequence is more logical, less about my own frustration and anger and more about the outcome of choices: it's when DramaBoy refuses to eat his dinner, so there is no dessert. It's when he takes too long getting ready for bed and there's no longer time for a story. It's when he's been whiny and uncooperative and mean to his brother so he gets a nap instead of going to the park.

That's the confusion we have about all the crap that happens to us, too. So much of the horror we go through is the logical consequence of someone's choice. What's harder to understand is when the innocent suffer the consequences of other people's choices: war, famine, disease, poverty. So much of that can be traced back to choices someone somewhere made--sometimes simple shortsightedness, like poor crop rotation; sometimes complex evil, like power-mad dictatorships. And sometimes, we just suffer the less lethal but still horrific consequences that are direct results of our own choices.

It would be simple for God to fix it all. He's omnipotent, right? That means there's literally nothing He can't do. So we cry out Why? Why did you let this happen? Why couldn't You just heal this child? Why couldn't You cast down that politician? Why couldn't You keep my wife/husband/friend/child from making that horrible choice? Why do we have to suffer? What did I/he/she/they do to make You inflict this punishment? And we are angry, so very angry that He doesn't take that cup from us.

Let's cut to the chase. That's the way it feels like for me, right now. I'm editing this post from the original because I kept it at a distance, all "we" and "us" and very little "I". There have been so many nights I've lain in bed, angry and screaming silently, Why? I know I messed up, but I've done everything I could to try to repair it! I've apologized, I've confessed, I've tried so damn hard! Why is this still happening to me? Why haven't You fixed this for me?


It comes down to Choice and Consequence. We make choices. There are consequences for them. And even when we are truly repentant, when we try to make the wrong we've done right, sometimes those consequences will happen anyway.

So even when I know I am forgiven and redeemed of my many, many horrific choices, I will still suffer the consequences set in motion by those choices. I may avoid worse consequences by making better choices now, but there are some that will happen regardless of what I want.

It's not punishment. It's not God sitting up there saying Well, before I forgive you, I'm going to make you really SUFFER for what you've done. I believe He's mourning the pain I'm facing as much or more than I am. But if he were to just take it all away--well, that would not only mean I'd have less opportunity to grow as a person and in my faith, but it would also mean He would have to take away Choice.

And if He did that, we would become puppets. There would be no free will. There would be no growth, development, learning...There could be no true Joy because there would be no Sorrow. We would be mindless, lower than the animals in our inability to do anything outside the boundaries we were given.

As DramaBoy learns, apparently the hard way, that certain choices have certain consequences, he will also learn and grow as a human being. And as his parent, I will suffer his anger for my seeming cruelty, until the day he can look back and understand that it was all a part of learning wisdom. It's all a part of Life.

11 bits of love:

Draft Queen said...

People are dynamic- always changing, always evolving, testing boundaries that we know are there. Sometimes we push too far in one direction because it gives us a sense of control where we seem to lack it in another place.

Your son, like everyone, will learn about consequence. It won't stop him from pushing the boundaries. He'll push too far sometimes but you'll still love him. He'll come to learn who he can lean on even when he's made those mistakes.

Hopefully he'll learn that while he can't change the things he's already done, he can choose not to repeat those mistakes.

(I hope I'm making sense. One should never read blogs and comment while under the influence of pain killers! A lesson I will probably never learn. I'm hard headed like that.)

Draft Queen said...

As for your edited version, damn I'm proud of you. It's not easy to admit we aren't perfect, especially to others.

Sometimes the hardest part is forgiving ourselves and being able to move on in the wake of our consequences. You have to believe in yourself. You'll get through this.

You've done what you can to rectify the situation. You cannot change what's already been. Now it's about accepting the past as just that and moving on into your present and future.

Kathleen said...

Wow! Such eloquence!!

MomZombie said...

As always, you take the complicated mix of life's ingredients and craft it into such a tasty treat to read.

The Kampers said...

wonderful observations! Still praying for you and your family

And how is this for a fun verification word? woutang!

Anonymous said...

DramaBoy and his hard, steep learning curve are a good reminder for us all. No, we're not puppets. You took a while to figure out the consequence/punishment thing too, yet here you are, laying it all out for your readers. Take hope! -- mom (dial-up won't let me publish my usual way today:) )

Anonymous said...

DramaBoy and his hard, steep learning curve are a good reminder for us all. No, we're not puppets. You took a while to figure out the consequence/punishment thing too, yet here you are, laying it all out for your readers. Take hope! -- mom (dial-up won't let me publish my usual way today:) )

beth said...

hello, i'm one of those dreaded lurkers . . . just thought i would surface and let you know i like your writing style and really enjoyed this post . . . very concise and well-put . . . just what i needed to hear.

Anonymous said...

well said!

Arby said...

I've been trying to decide what to say in response to this post, and the only thing that I came up with was an eloquent, "Yeah..."

I grok.

merideth said...

amen, sister.

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