My kids say one version of this phrase to me so often that I am tempted (and sometimes do) to snap back at them, "and I don't care what he did!"
That is not entirely true. Of course, I care what he does. But I care that the one I am talking to get the point that he can only fix his end of the problem. Fixing the other guy is not his job. I'll have to go find the offending sibling and deal with his own issues with him. But I need to deal with the issues of each kid with the kid themselves. It is a part of motherhood that is not my favorite, I assure you.
Two wrongs don't make a right. And life is not fair. What other things did our moms tell us that we swore we would never tell our kids? But we do.
I completely understand and sympathize with the child whose hat and mittens were kicked on purpose down the stairs. That is just not right! I agree with them that something needs to be done about it. But when they chose to take that something into their own hands and knock the brother down the stairs after the hat and mittens (relax, it is only five steps!), then I have two problems to deal with, not one. Both need correcting. And this is where the frustration comes in, "but mom, he shouldn't have.....!"
"No, he shouldn't have. But neither should you have...."
"But I wouldn't have if he hadn't....! He started it!"
I wonder in heaven is there a score board for who started it? Or are we all responsible for the actions we start? Yet, when we hurt others, are we also not responsible for that? Responsible for actions and reactions.... How about feelings? Are we responsible for our feelings? Ho about for the feelings that our actions cause in others? It is an area I firmly preach to my kids, but still struggle with in daily life.
But, he shouldn't have......!!
There are a few things in my life that will get me more riled up than any other. Top on that list would be an attack on my kids. Following closely behind that is when someone questions either my truthfulness or my integrity. That is usually enough to send me off the deep end on a response. Question my methods, my quality, my rational, and I will roll with it, but question my integrity, and I will react.
I also still harbor this deep desire that life should be fair. That people should be fairly treated. I hang on to tht desire even while informing my kids that life is not fair - deal with it!
So yesterday, my team leader did exactly what will get me riled up. He questioned my integrity. To top it all off, he treated me unfairly, differently and more strictly than he treats other team members. What he encourges others to do, he critizised me for doing. And warned me not to use funds for personal things on top of it all.
So I reacted. I used to be quiet and just let him say or do whatever and keep smiling. I'm not sure that is me anymore. When a child reaches a limit, we discipline to inform them that there is the limit. We might flick their reaching hand before it gets to an outlet. There might be other consequences, but we learn by consequences. I wondered if just smiling and being silent was teaching him anything or if he needs consequences to know that he is crossing a line.
So I reacted. I still don't know if I reacted too much or not. Part of me says to myself, "you should have been more gracious", and part of me says, "but he shouldn't have...!" Part of me says, "I've tried gracious with him, and it ain't getting the point across!"
He shouldn't have. I have never given him any reason to question my handling of finances or my time. If anything, I err more on the side of not claiming expenses (even for things like the trip to go pick him up when he came in!) than using funds for personal things.
He shouldn't have. I am a fairly truthful person. Sometimes too honest at times.
He shouldn't have. It is completely unfair to question my choice of something I chose to do at no cost to him in my free time while in the same situation, encouraging another on the team to do exactly that - everything paid for. I live with the unfairness of the paid and unpaid because there are reasons behind that that I agree with. I wasn't upset over that at all. But to then question my right to do that??!!
He shouldn't have.
But as I go about my day calming down and reminding myself of a few things that make it more able for me to work with this man... I began to wonder about that phrase "he shouldn't have" and how I answer it as a mom.
No. He shouldn't have. That is pretty clear, pretty obvious. He shouldn't have done this. But that is not the question for me.... that question is for him. He will have to answer to God for how he treats people. I don't answer for him.
My question is "did I respond correctly?" I can answer upfront that I did not respond in the most gracious manner possible. But I also scratch my head and wonder. Do we always need to be as gracious as possible? Some people are a little slow on the intake. They don't pick up things, and if they are not told clearly that they are giving offense, they would never get it.
But did I respond correctly? I don't know. I did not personally attack. I firmly stated that what he was insinuating about me has no basis. I have not acted like this, am not, and would not. I clearly stated that he had offended me. I did not make comments as to his character, although, he could infer from the letter that I am none to impressed with him at the moment.
But was it correct? I don't know. I look up at God and again wonder, "when are You going to do something?" Then I look at my kids where two of them are currently locked in a feud against each other, and I am tired. I wonder if God is tired too and wants to say, "hey, just get along!". Or if He will threaten to make us share a room until we stop howling every time the other walks near by. (No, I did not just suggest sharing a room with him... just to get that VERY CLEAR!!... It is a threat and a possibility I am considering with two brothers who struggle to walk down a hall and pass each other without a fight... share a room until you are capable of occupying adjacent spaces without yelling at each other!)
Maybe I am ready to listen to God right now. And I am infernally tired of dealing with this man whose opinion and attitude towards me are like shifting sand. There is no way to rest. I think if you were to get to the basis of the problem I have with him, it is the lack of honesty. The flip-flopping back and forth, the smiling to my face while talking behind my back is what gets to me. Be honest. Be trustable... whether you are good or bad, be trustable. Speak plainly. Be fair.
He shouldn't have...
No, he shouldn't have... but I am just back to the simple basics: two wrongs do not make a right, life is not fair, and you are only responsible for your own actions.
Actually I disagree with that last one to a degree and it is to this point - you are responsible to consider the result of your actions on other people's feelings.
And to balance that with when is it time to speak up and teach people. To flick hands that reach for outlets. Better to let you feel a little pain now and learn something than to just let you continue on until we all get burned.
He sets my teeth on edge.
But I am responsible for my reaction. Needing help there today. Needing help. Knowing what this one has said, what he has done over the last few years when I was hurting and found myself wounded with my own side shooting at me, I need help. He's used up his supply of grace. Proved himself someone I can't trust.
But I am responsible for my own actions. Struggling with that concept today.
Life is not fair.