Probably the hardest part of parenting is deciding how best to dispense just consequences, while mercifully sparing them when it’s wise to do so. I’m waaay better at the justice part and am often glad for the mercy of others to soften life’s edges for my kids.
Last week’s example:
Emma wanted to try out for the school talent show. We decided on the song (“Popular” a la Wicked), filled out the form and she took it to her backpack. Except it never actually made it into her backpack. When I saw it on the floor on Monday, I picked it up and gave it to her again and said “Is it too late to turn this in?” Emma wasn’t concerned and took it to school on Tuesday, where she talked to someone who told her that she could just bring to tryouts on Wednesday. On Wednesday I went to a lot of work lining up an accompanist, bringing her home at lunch for extra practice, copying all the pages and words, waking kids from naps to have everything ready on Wednesday afternoon.
She greeted me at the school door, teary and upset: “I can’t tryout because I didn’t get my paper in on Monday!” (It turns out the someone who told her it would be okay, was another uninformed 5th grader). I was frustrated due to all the effort I’d put in that day and because this is a common problem Emma exhibits. Plus, I knew she’d lost her chance to perform and she was really looking forward to it (and she’s really good). I knew I could go in there and make a stink and see if I could get them to change their minds, but Emma won’t always have her mom around to make up for her organizational lapses, right? Better to learn at 9, than 19 or 39, right? I tried not to lecture (only a small one) and just hugged her and told her to call her accompanist and let him know she wouldn’t need him anymore.
The accompanist was the (AWESOME) 17 year old son of the (AWESOME) Primary President. When Emma went to their house to return the music and let them know they wouldn’t be needed. Shelley hugged her and commiserated and asked if we could change their minds. Emma said no and returned to the car feeling better.
Imagine our surprise, when, at 6:15 Brayden and Shelley showed up at our door. They came in the house, with popcorn and an audience member and announced "We’re here for the Emma Romney Talent Show.” Brayden (shown below with Emma) began to play and Emma sung her little Popular heart out. There was applause and encore requests. It was a sweet night and an incredible thing for this busy mother and son to do for Emma.
I wish I could be as perfectly just and as perfectly merciful as Heavenly Father, but when I can’t I’m grateful for real life and real friends to make up the difference.