Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On the Couch

Sitting in my office right now is a young child, three years old. He's adorable, polite, much loved and in a lot of trouble right now. That's why he is sitting on my couch. For our Children's Day Out program, "Pastor Christy's Couch" is the worst of punishments. All other means of gentle correction have failed and the young one has chosen to continue in behaviors that are problematic to the health of the larger classroom and to his own development.

The child on the pastor's couch has no toys, nothing to distract or do, except to sit and, one would hope, to reflect on the behavior that brought them there. Now, this particular child has begun to sing to himself, songs about God he has learned in our program. I listen to him singing "Here I am to help you, you are my best friend," and I can't keep myself from smiling.

All the children who make their way here are really charmers. They are creative and sweet and I love them.  I am also the power figure in this particular disciplinary situation and work very hard not to coddle them.

"Old Macdonald had a farm" is now coming from his mouth. I periodically glance his way to make sure he has not left the couch, but do not interact with him otherwise. By the way, did you know that Old MacDonald had a dinosaur and a frog?

He just started bouncing on the couch, so it was necessary to remind him that he did not have the privilege. He was in trouble. He quickly stops and lies down, and now is whispering the song instead of singing out loud.

Gentle correction. Firm boundaries. Without these things, a child cannot grow into a responsible adult. God must do the same with us.

Gentle correction: often a question that hits hard from someone we trust; a sense in our spirit that something is just wrong; the withdrawal of a friend or loved one who will no longer tolerate our behaviors; an event that shakes us up and gives us impetus to re-evaluate who we are and what we are doing with our lives; a time of reading Holy Scripture where we see that our lives really don't line up well with the call to love God and to love our neighbors with all our hearts, our minds, our strengths, and our spirits.

I suspect this young one will spend most of the morning on the couch. It will be a trial for both of us. I will learn from him. I hope he will also learn. God is patient, and so am I. But the patience of God does expect resulting repentance. So does mine.


Wendy said...

why do I suspect, that this child is my grandson?

Christy Thomas said...

You will notice I very carefully did NOT name this lovely child who is now sleeping soundly on the couch!

Batbogey said...

If you were to auction off a sermon, Rev. Thomas, I'd bid high on this one: Motherhood of the barren womb.

Bad title, perhaps, but I find myself unsettled by those who are childless (as I am) but who don't understand that all of us have a legacy that will either burden or nurture the children around us. This lack of mindfulness bubbles up in flip comments like:

I don't have children. I don't think I ought to pay school taxes.

I won't watch my language. Keep your kid at home!

These KIDS today!

What do the childless teach our children. What are our responsibilities to these precious souls?

Lucinda Breeding

Angie Hammond said...

What a wonderful reminder to me of the role I play in my students lives.
I too have no children of my own, but God has seen fit to allow me to touch so many young men and women through my role as a teacher at the Methodist Home School.
Wish I could have read this earlier in the day today. It would probably have helped me to understand how to handle what I had to do today in regard to discipline in the classroom. I had to write a referral to ISS today because a student did not want to correct their behavior when given an opportunity to correct their actions instead of getting into trouble.
I of course did what I needed to do but the end result was not one that I desired. The student did not do as requested and then left the classroom cussing. Notice I said as requested because I did not demand it. I gave choices and unfortunately the wrong choice was made.

Also another reminder to me that I am not the savior but only a teacher. But in the classroom I too am the one with authority and I must hold those who choose to break the rules accountable or I have failed them and myself.

Thanks Christy for reminding me that I play a role in the lives of the children I serve each day.

Only one other comment on this post. Sure wish we had a "Pastor Christy's Couch" at the school.
We have something close but not quite the same.
We have "Principal Cristy's Office" but somehow I just don't think it works as well as your couch.