Friday, May 16, 2008

A Cup of Rules

The Play-Doh Nazi

There is, in all of us, a desire to keep rules. Now, I know that we are all called by God to be law abiding citizens, but I’m talking about other rules. You know the ones I’m talking about, don’t break crayons, color the sky blue, don’t tear pages out of story coloring books, and so many more. There is one rule that is so dangerous, so enforced that we feel it absolutely necessary to pass it down to our children. Can you guess which one it is? Don’t mix the Play-Doh! AHHHH! The thought of pink in with orange is like nails on a chalkboard, isn’t it? How many times do we say, “If you want to play with green then we need to put the yellow away.” We are vigilant in using our fingers to pick up the little pieces that have crumbled to keep from rolling the brilliant blue into specks of fire engine red. Why is this? Who made up this rule and why do we all feel it necessary to keep it? My kids don’t always wear coats, sometimes their hair is wet outside, I let them play in dirt, but I do not, under any circumstances let them mix their Play-Doh. That is, until today.

Having a third child changes things. I am now always on the lookout for opportunities to play with my children alone. It doesn’t happen everyday, sometimes only one or two of them get me alone, but I do try. Today it was Julia’s turn. I know how much she loves Play-Doh and after we put it away last night I told her we would play it today. So, after lunch and when the 5th load of laundry was finally folded, I suggested that she join me to play with the Play-Doh. She was thrilled that I finally invited her into my life. We were having a super time rolling out our snakes and I looked away for a split second and BAM the colors were MIXED! I used my most calm voice and very gently said, “Oh no baby, we don’t mix the colors.” I broke her in that split second. Her head dropped, her hands fell lifeless to her sides and she slipped out of her chair and was heading far far away from me, the Play-Doh nazi. As soon as I realized what was happening I grabbed the Play-Doh and combined the pink and the blue and remarked at how beautiful the colors were once mixed. She lifted her head, climbed back on the chair and was ready to continue with our time together.

I almost forfeited some pretty great time over a rule that has no substance, no reason, and no place in a home full of children. Over the next few minutes my mind raced with how quickly my words effected my daughter and how drastic her response was. I began to think about all of the other rules that I could force on my children that would also break their spirits for no good reason. Do I make them talk to God a certain way? Do I lead them to believe that the way to get my love and affection is to make their bed and keep their shoes at the shoe station? Do I encourage them to dream in or outside of the box? How big is God to them? Huge, that’s what this experience was for me.

I want my children to obey laws as much as any other good, Christian parent. However, the rules that mean the most are not those that are passed down from generation to generation regarding shoes, and crayons and play-doh. No, the most important rules are those that were inscribed on stone meant to point us all to our ever increasing need for a Savior. Those are the rules I must insist that my children keep. So, it was independence day! I mixed the play-doh and it felt phenomenal. It was exhilarating to make a multi-colored snake with my daughter who wants to be with me. With any luck, and God’s wisdom, she’ll always want to be with me.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." Colossians 2:8-10


Kim said...

It's funny how we all have some of the same issues as moms. I too cringe when my son mixes play-doh (or paint or whatever...). Amazing how your perspective changes when another child comes along. Okay, you now think...does it really matter if he mixes the play-doh? How much precious time am I wasting fussing about something so trivial? Thanks for the reminder. Love the scripture with that. What a scrapbook page!!! A photo of your little one coloring or playing with play-doh...alongside this story and that scripture highlighted in some way! Hey...I think it would work! :)

Sharon said...

That is one thing that as parents we all struggle with. When the kids ask to do something I always try to remember to ask myself - Why not? I mean as in the I want to wear purple and pink polka dot pants with a red and white check shirt. (exagerated example) Why not let them have the freedoms to express themselves and enjoy life. As you said the important rules are not the ones we tend to stress or stress about.

Hadassah said...

So I have confess here, I don't give a flying patooty (hey, I've been around preschoolers all day) about the play-doh getting mixed, which is probably why we always end up with a humongous lump of grayish green goo that summarily gets chunked in the garbage can. Then I swear off play-doh for the next 8 months. Eventually, though, I forget, and the cycle repeats itself. My oldest is a born color mixer. It would be cruel to restrict her play-doh creativity.

But as far as the other rules go--you are right on. Sometimes I catch myself saying "no" and then thinking, "why not?" I think it's just mom instinct. But its not a good one!

Christy said...

My husband just left yesterday for 15 months (deployment) and the kids and I are working on revising rules, chores, etc. Finding the balance of teaching them responsibility, respect, and honoring God is a daunting task at times, but when we get down and see what really matters it's AWESOME! To know that mixing colors of play doh is no biggie can be really HUGE lesson for us as mom's/parents.

So often I think it's "easy" to get wrapped up in making rules that really have no rhyme or reason to them such as not mixing the play doh. It's great that you went with it and mixed those colors!