A Disney reference. If you didn’t read that in an alien voice then we are done here.
So, I took BAM with me to the grocery store because what’s more fun than grocery shopping with an active 3 year old? As we stood at the checkout, he noticed it. As he gazed upon the scratched plexiglass windows and peered inside at the shiny silver claw, I braced myself for it…
“I WANT THOSE ANIMALS IN THAT CAGE WITH THE GRABBY THING!!!”
Anyway, I was hot and tired and without quarters, so I just told him, “No. Not today.” I had no idea what would happen next.
Much to my shock, it was a fit. An all-out throw yourself on the ground screaming slobbering fit. My happy-go-lucky boy certainly cries when he doesn’t get his way. He is a child, after all, but this fit was like an out of body experience. That boy really really wanted to play with that grabby thing and have all of the animals.
A small part of me wanted to get out some dollar bills and ask for change so he could do exactly what he wanted to do, but also to make the epic meltdown stop. But a bigger part of me knew this was a learning experience for both of us. I was learning how to handle his fits and he was learning that we don’t always get what we want.
As we emerged from the store, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Here’s another way God is using parenting to teach me about His love and discipline with me.
I want my son to have every good gift he desires. I want him to always feel content and safe. I want him to know how very loved he is every moment of his life. But I also know things he doesn’t know. I know that the claw machine will likely take our quarters, give us about 3 seconds to play with the joystick and push a button, and then it will leave us empty handed. But, BAM doesn’t know that. He just knows that it looks cool and he expects the best outcome – unlimited play with a “grabby thing” and all of the animals he wants.
And isn’t that just like us. We think we know what we want. We think we know what the outcome will be if God would just let us do what we want. But how wrong are we? If left to our own devices, we would likely shove all of our quarters in a shiny machine and end up being quite let down. Our expectations would be dashed. And we would probably be pretty upset with God for “letting all of that happen” to us.
Had I let the child go through with it he may have ended up upset with me for how it turned out. I can picture him gazing up at me, empty handed, wanting to know what I was going to do to fix the situation. It could have resulted in an even worse meltdown. I don’t know that for sure, but there’s one way to find out.
As we drove home in the far-from-silent minivan, another thought hit me. I know what would have happened because of experience. Maybe I should have allowed him to experience the reality of the the claw and then he wouldn’t want to do it next time. So I think that’s what’s going to happen next. “Here are 2 quarters, son. I know you’re about to be disappointed, but I want you to see why you need to trust me when I tell you something isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
I think God does that sometimes too. He is a GOOD father, so He doesn’t cause the harm, but I think he disciplines in a way that draws us closer to Him and further away from harm.
So, next time you see a claw machine, just think about BAM and all that his giant fit taught us!