Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Justice and Mercy

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. 

The Justice:

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.

The Mercy:

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.

Picture 004

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.

26 comments:

Brooke said...

What great friends! I wish I could have heard her sing too. :)
Sorry Emma and love you!
ps- I have a hard time with this too.

Annie said...

Love this! A perfect blend of justice + mercy, in my book. Well played, everyone. (I'm sure Emma would have been the toast of the talent show so she deserves her own show anyway.)

Lindsey said...

Super nice friends! Wow. I hope I would have though of that!

Tristan said...

Oh my gosh!!! That is the sweetest thing I have heard in a while!!

You should have taken video of and posted it for all of us to see! I would love to cheer Emma on at her own personal talent show!

I actually admire you for letting her learn her lesson. That is so hard sometimes! You are an awesome Mom! Thanks for sharing this story!

Hollyween said...

You are SUCH a great 'Love and Logic' parent. I think I'd totally cave in a situation like that. Nice move.

That is such a sweet pic of her at the piano. I'm sure that made up for the whole thing right there. Plus, she still got to learn a lesson. And we all know how important it is for our kids to 'learn a lesson'.

Amy said...

Wow, this post was so touching, it brought me to tears! Justice and mercy...such a difficult balance, and I'm glad Heavenly Father is perfect at it! I would have a major crush on Brayden if I were Emma. What a champ! Such kind friends.

Alison said...

I love this story. Good reminder for me.

Annemarie said...

Great job, Mom!
This stuff can be so hard, but a lesson was learned. And what a cute girl that she was so quickly able to get over it and move on. What great friends, too!

Ilene said...

For crying out loud, that is the most heart warming story.

Really, it should be turned into a musical.

Of course the writers of such a show would take liberties with your character. Stage takes everything over the top.

Christie said...

What a perfect ending to this story. I am head over heels in love with your friend and her son. Truly. The world needs more people like them.

Erika said...

there.. had my good cry for the day.

Abbie said...

That really worked out well. I'm glad to know it's not all on our shoulders. That other people step in.

G and G Nut said...

Put that number on the program for the next family reunion, and tell Emma to make sure Brayden comes too. Love you, Emma. Can't wait to hear you sing "Popular"!!
xoxoxo

the wrath of khandrea said...

you should submit this to the friend magazine. i'm not even being sarcastic or anything, which i know may be difficult to grasp.

this story is awesome. does the guy do house calls oustide the greater spokane area?

heidi said...

i may need to journal these thoughts. i too believe in justice. mercy makes me feel weak. i sound like i have bigger issues.
great comparison.

Jenna said...

Wow! So impressed that you stood your ground & then that your friends came over to help her feel better. Sweet! We are going to see Wicked on the 4th - I can't wait - it's my second time.

bloggingchristy said...

That is such a cute story! I bet Emma is great and I WOULD LOVE to hear her sing Popular (obsession with Wicked, I know you understand)!

Paige said...

Would it be too weird to post her performance or a portion on your blog? Because that is so great. I would struggle with that decision too but I'm so impressed by the one you made.

Plus, you didn't have to drag your kids to one more thing at the school. I'm sure you didn't think of that. That's just mean, evil me.

That teenager is COOL.

Lauren in GA said...

Brayden and Shelley are amazing people.

...and you are a fantastic mom. I never know how to discern the line between justice and mercy.

The last line here gave me the chills. I have had real life friends make up the difference for me more than once.

I know I have said this before but Emma is a beautiful girl.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adrianne said...

no video of her singing?? I'm all about logic and totally annoyed that my 2 year old doesn't get it. My children are really going to need the blessing of good neighbors!

Bethany said...

Ohh it's so hard not to lecture when they miss out on a good opportunity.

That Crump family is overflowing with awesomeness. Love them and love that you shared this great story! (what a confidence builder for Emma who can try out next year!)

nurse graham said...

You're right...it is so hard to stick to your guns and let our children learn lessons the hard way.

How awesome for the Crumps to come and still give Emma a chance to perform without you having to seem like you caved or "rescued" her.

Awesome mom with awesome friends. (I can't believe I used "awesome" 3 times in this response. I'm so stuck in the 80's with my lingo).

Tammy said...

You did the right thing. I think its also helpful to reflect and encourage Emma, now at her age, to reflect about what she could have done differently, and perhaps what was so amazing about what the teenager did. I think its important for her to grasp why you did what you did, and how sometimes people do extraordinary things just to be kind. What a nice story after all......and you are a fantastic mom.

Jeanelle said...

Seriously? What a great story! File this away when you forget how amazing a mom you are. And Brayden and Shelley rock. I love hearing stories like this...Emma will never forget this experience, I'll bet.

diane said...

I just love this story.

Now I have the song mercy stuck in my head.