It was a HOT (almost 100 degree) muggy afternoon. K went over to play with some girlfriends, so the boys and I spent some time on the front porch painting $3 canvases I recently found at Big Lots. P was thrilled that I let him paint all over his feet and then make colorful footprints. That sweet boy craves sensory stimulation, so this of type full contact, messy activity was right up his alley. As R was working on his painting I saw P walk off with a jar of white paint.
"Don't open that, buddy. P, come put that back over here. You have already finished your painting. That will make a huge mess."
I turned my attention back to R until I heard P attempt to stifle a giggle. As I looked across the porch, I saw P right in Oreo's face saying, "What happened to yo' nose, silly kitty?"
"P, did you paint the cat?"
There was no verbal reply, just a guilty, meek look...chin down, doe eyes up at me.
"P, didn't I just ask you to bring the paint back? I told you not to open it."
"But, Mom, I just like to be sneaky." P is an honest one.
Isn't that a picture of the sin condition? Sometimes we just like to be sneaky. It feels good to be adventurous, to break rules that seem fairly harmless. It's fun to do what we want, just because we want to. Thankfully, the consequences this time were painless...but it is not always so.
I feel guilty sometimes, like I am far too strict. Little boys, afterall, do things like paint kittens...especially mischievous, curious, experimental little boys like my P. But, isn't my job as a parent to teach them basic character and guidelines for life? Like listening, respecting authority, kindness to animals, self control, etc...
The truth is, sometimes, like today, it is very hard for me to get to the heart of the real issue. Was I upset that he directly defied authority (his character) or that he seemed to not respect that I am in charge (my pride)? Parenting is full of slippery slopes and fine lines (not to mention a painted pet or two)!