Good Judgement (not an oxymoron)

It’s hard teaching a 2-year-old how to share. Can i get an amen? The mantra at our house lately has been, “don’t take things away from baby brother…it makes him sad.” MIGHT be starting to sink in a bit.

The other day i was getting dressed for the day, and heard the unmistakable sound of a baby playing with a plastic bag. (Parents of the Year, people! Right here!)  I hurried toward the sound to intervene…and came into the room to find that the “big” kid (the 2-year-old) had already confiscated the dangerous item and was putting it up out of her baby brother’s reach.

I am changing my mantra. It now goes, “don’t take things from baby brother… UNLESS he might get hurt.” Although, it seems the 2-year-old is way ahead of me there. The instinct that “baby probably shouldn’t be playing with that” seems to be innate–along with the mother hen initiative to lead him away from danger. Nnow, you are probably saying, how often are your small children unattended, that she has to feel such responsibility for a baby?? Rest assured, we are watching/listening from closeby… it is called “free range parenting,” and you definitely intervene when there’s a plastic bag involved… Meanwhile, i like to think that they are learning the kind of discernment that can only come from experience and relationship. Now, mom said not to pull on the baby, but he’s about to stick his fingers in the fan, so… (That’s right folks…parents of the year!)

Experience and relationship. Don’t we learn most of the most important things in life from being connected to other people, and being trusted to love them in the best way that we know how? “Discernment” is a tricky word in the mainline church… It means taking some responsibility for one’s faith, and not just blindly following some out of context scripture from a jillion years ago. It means building faith and community through relationships, and trusting one’s own experience of the holy more than what someone else tells you.

It’s easier to be handed the answers.  It’s easier to sign on the dotted line, and follow a doctrine that is spelled out on the page, clear rules and regulations and “thou shalt nots.”   But then again…then again there will come the day when somebody that we love–or even somebody we don’t know– is about to put a big plastic bag over their heads. And even a 2-year-old knows that love beats the rules. Every. Single. Time.

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • http://looking-closely.blogspot.com Rachel

    Good post. I am often accused of having situational ethics, but really, is there any other kind?

    It sounds like you are raising a kid who, even at this young age, is able to discern not only right from wrong but right from the greater right. If I ever have kids, I hope to follow in your example.


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