I hold it that a little rebellion now and then, is a good thing…
- Thomas Jefferson
When you have children it is just a matter of time before it rears its ugly head. Children naturally march toward the point when they can be independent, but sometimes that happens earlier than parents anticipate. It is at this point that you have to decide which battle to fight.
My younger two tried to toe the line for the most part. To tell you the truth, the few moments that I would identify as rebellion were not as bad as some other parents have experienced. I think I was “prepared” because I lived through my brothers’ hijinks. I was too young to really see their mischievous ways in action, but the stories were legendary. In this day and time, these things may seem little, but when they were happening, these boys were in danger of receiving the spanking on their lives. When I think about my brothers throwing peanut butter on the wall and laughing because it looked like they’d scooped it out of the toilet, it just makes me cringe – two infractions: wasting food and messing up the house. They received a good spanking and punishment. Of course, they had to wash the walls.
There is also the story of them being in the hospital to have their tonsils removed. We never could confirm this story, and it always sounded like a popular comedian’s party record. [Note: Back in the 50’s and 60’s, before there was the internet, iTunes or CDs, comedians had records that you could play at house parties for a few minutes of comedy.] The story goes that both boys had to have the surgery. They had to be anesthetized and when my older brother saw our younger brother “asleep” he thought he was dead… So he took off running down the hall in the hospital gown, vowing to avenge his brother’s death. This story has been a good source of laughter for years.
Well the Valentines have their own stories, but this picture really shows what was going on. I tend to be a traditionalist when it comes to Easter church service. When my guys were growing up, that was the one day that we dressed up and it was an opportunity for a nice family picture. Nothing fancy, but everyone on the driveway, marking another year. The fellas knew the drill – find your suit, make sure it still fits correctly. Iron your shirt, find your shoes and socks and let’s be ready to leave the house on time. As you can see, the younger two did what I asked them to do…but oh that oldest. The trouble with raising intelligent children is that they will reason with you when you just want compliance, not logic. “Sir, I asked you to put your suit on today. Mom, I don’t want to wear a suit. I am dressed and ready.” So it is at this point that you decide not to go to church angry. You have to select which fights are worth disrupting the entire household. Ordinarily this moment would have come and gone, and probably would have been forgotten…if it wasn’t for the traditional Easter picture.
My oldest would grow up to maintain a bit of that same approach to life in his adult years. I have to confess that it is balanced with a very strong sense of loyalty and appreciation. As a parent, knowing which fights to pursue shows you have a sense of balance. They were required to get good grades in school – non-negotiable. The tidiness of their room – negotiable. You get the idea.
The other thing that I noticed was some of this was rooted in trying to delineate between the adult instruction I was giving him and the female instruction I was conveying. Without a fulltime male parent, it can be difficult to separate the two, which causes frustration for a male child, but it is hard to verbalize because they only have the one parent. Sometimes my sons would be asked to help do things around the church. If a man was requesting that they speak at a service or help move something I would always encourage the person to ask them directly. This helped defined what men do as opposed to what women do.
Find balance in your parenting and don’t sweat the small stuff. When they have children, they will be able to see your view and you will have the benefit of watching how they respond to rebellion.