In one week, the local school children will be headed back to school, and not a minute too soon according to many moms, especially moms who have two or more children at home. The start of summer is usually great! The kids play with each other, attend camps, go on vacation, and spend quality time together. Those family photos from early summer show happy children frolicking in the sun and enjoying just being together without the responsibility of school. Moms are able to sit back and read a book or sip iced tea while the kids play together joyfully. Ah, it is a wonderful time!
Then, about mid-July, when the kids are forced inside by the extreme heat, things change. It’s too hot to play outside where there’s room to run and play and stay out of each other’s way. The camps are over. Vacation is just a memory. The boredom sets in. What’s a kid to do for a little excitement? Aggravating a sibling by touching him or his “stuff” will certainly get the party started. So, one taps the elbow of the other who is about to put a spoonful of cereal and milk in his mouth, spilling it on the table and – if lucky – in his companion’s lap.
“Quit it!” the victim screams.
“You deserved it!” responds the offender.
“What’d I do?” says the other.
“Remember that time you took my headphones?”
“That was last summer! Who cares?”
“I care. I’m still mad at you.”
“No, you’re stupid!”
“No, you are!”
“No, you are!”
Now, this is where timing is crucial. As soon as it becomes apparent that a fight is about to begin, the good mom quickly speaks in a loud and scary voice, “Stop it right now!” For most kids, the “tone” comes through loud and clear. They know that taking the conflict to the next level will most certainly result in something painful to their allowances, their free time, or their backsides. Most won’t chance it, at least not immediately. As good moms know, it is during these times of unrest that they must be the most vigilant, watching and waiting for one child or the other to fan the flame and reignite the war. She must be ready to douse the flame, being careful not to take a side. She must point out the wrongs that each child has committed to make them think about all the ways that either one could have been the better person and nipped the growing “war” in the bud. The good mom is not afraid to call them out and even inflict a swift and appropriate punishment on both.
What a good mom knows – and must teach her children – is that dredging up old offenses never rights a wrong, but it can certainly create new ones. She must be the voice of reason and – more importantly – the voice of God’s wisdom, giving her children the words and thoughts they need to be able to live among other people. She must speak as Paul spoke and let her children know that the past cannot and should not be forgotten. She must teach them to remember their failures and learn what to avoid in the future. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). These words echo God’s words spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
Most importantly, a good mom must teach the Golden Rule in the manner in which it was intended. In an article entitled “What Is the Golden Rule?” found at GotQuestions.org, it is explained this way:
“The English Standard Version translates the Golden Rule like this: ‘Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.’ Jesus brilliantly condenses the entire Old Testament into this single principle, taken from Leviticus 19:18: ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.’ Again, we see the implication that people are naturally lovers of self, and the command uses that human flaw as a place to start in how to treat others.”
Judging by the behavior of some young rioters who are emerging in this country, it is possible that their moms failed to pass on these important words of wisdom or that they simply failed to listen. Whatever the case may be, this childish behavior can lead to dire consequences – and has. Whether a person believes in God or not does not mean that he can’t come to understand His teachings for living a complete life. Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, put it this way:
To all the moms who take the time to step in, step up, and speak words of wisdom words of wisdom, may God continue to bless your good works. For those who have somehow “missed the mark” (Strong’s Greek: hamartanó – to miss the mark, do wrong, sin), it is never too late to start righting wrongs. It should not be done through rioting and killing and teaching hate but through telling the children (even the adult ones) to “Stop it right now!” Then, follow up with a lesson on what good, decent behavior is and how important it is to treat others with respect and kindness, especially when they make us angry. More importantly, the moms (and the dads) must model the behavior they wish to see in their children. When we choose to spread true wisdom, the kind that builds up instead of tears down, that forgives instead of condemns, that joins instead of separates, that loves instead of hates, we can start moving toward a perfect world, the one God intended for us.
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Flour Bluff, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer a glimpse into the past and present of the little community of Flour Bluff. She wrote for The Flour Bluff Messenger, wrote and edited for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper that existed from December 2017 to April 2020, served as copy editor on three books, and continues to tutor students of all ages in the lively art of writing.