Friday, March 09, 2012

The Sweet Sting of Discipline

My kids are at an age that it is important for them to learn that while it's fun to have fun, you have to take care of business first.  I for one bang this message home hard.  Chalk it up to my Taiwanese upbringing: always take care of business first, then you can go play.

Jada is learning this lesson the hard way.  She is enamored with her friends, and loves nothing more - even after seven hours of school and three more hours of after-school - than to socialize with them some more at the school playground after I pick her and Aaron up.  Now that the weather is nicer, more kids and their parents are making a stop there on their way home, to let the kids burn off some energy and so the grown-ups can chat.

Ah, but no playground for Jada if she's not done with her school homework for the week, or if their bedroom and play area aren't clean.  And so one day earlier this week, as we passed the playground and one of her dearest friends came running towards us inviting Jada to come play with her, Jada looked at me with puppy dog eyes, and I shook my head matter-of-factly and walked her and Aaron right past the playground and all her friends.

To compound matters, later that evening, after Amy and I had sent Jada and Aaron upstairs to clean up before bedtime, I went up and saw what could only be described as a disaster zone: chairs upturned, papers everywhere, toy bins turned over.  It had been awhile since I had spanked them on the hand, but I wanted to get the point across.  And I directed my fury at Jada, and explained to her that this was one of the main reasons there was no playground that day. 

It pained Amy to see Jada cry - not from the physical pain I had inflicted her, but from the sense of having missed out on something she wanted badly - but it gave me grave satisfaction that Jada was experiencing the sweet sting of discipline.  Minutes later, she and I were snuggling as I read bedtime stories, so I know she knows I love her and am doing all this out of love for her. 

Sure enough, homework was done and things tidied up the next morning.  In life, sometimes we need to brought to place of hurt - in falling short, in letting down your loving dad, and in not getting to enjoy something longed for - in order to grow.  I'm proud of my little girl that she is growing.
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