Later that afternoon, Moose asked if he could play his Leapster. And I told him no, because he was grounded from it and I asked him if he remembered what he did earlier. He said "Yes" as fresh tears rose in his eyes. And he looked at me as he blinked and the tears rolled down his fat little cheeks and he said, "But Mama, I sorry." And for a second, I thought about how he would perceive me as his parent if I backed down from his punishment. Would I be flaking out on him as his mom if I was inconsistent? Would he lose respect for my words and decisions if I didn't enforce his punishment?
And then I realized that if I did enforce his punishment, I would be doing exactly to him what I am so grateful that God doesn't do to me. I would be withholding forgiveness even after his confession and expression of contrition.
Is there room for Forgiveness in Discipline? I certainly hope so. If there wasn't, there would be no hope for me, or for any of us for that matter! That's when I decided that I would seize this moment to show Moose what forgiveness is all about. I had an opportunity to show my son a tiny little peek of the kind of forgiveness and redemption that God offers to all of us.
Moose was so sad remembering what he'd done earlier that day. He laid his head on my shoulder and wrapped his arms around my neck and quietly whimpered, "I'm so sorry Mama. I'm so sorry." I answered, "I know. You don't have to be be grounded anymore because I know you really are sorry and you will try to do better next time." My son flicked his head up towards me with a look of total disbelief across his face. The kid looked like he won some kind of lottery or something but his expression quickly clouded over as his relief faded into a look of worry. He said, "You not tell Daddy, okay? You please not tell Daddy I hurt my friend." I said, "Daddy already knows, but I'll tell Daddy you're not grounded anymore."
Moose said, "I not grounded anymore?" as the sun started rising in his eyes, the burden of his punishment lifted. I said, "Nope. You don't have to be grounded anymore. Do you want to play on your Leapster?"
And my son said, "No."
He added, "I just wanna hug you now."
And that's the story of the day I learned that:
- A child can learn more from forgiveness than he can from punishment.
- So can I.