On Monday, Lincoln came into the bathroom where I was getting ready and started to unroll the toilet paper.
"What are you doing?" I inquired. "Don't unroll all the toilet paper!"
He told me that he needed a telescope like the empty paper towel roll I had given the boys earlier.
Evidently it was bent and he wanted a different one.
"Just use that one!" I said. "We don't want to waste the toilet paper."
Lincoln walked out of the bathroom and I thought all was well.
But a few minutes later, he came walking up the stairs sobbing.
I poked my head out of the bathroom and saw him carrying an empty toilet paper roll with toilet paper trailing behind him up the stairs. My resourceful boy had just taken care of his problem in the other bathroom.
But why the sobbing?
"Can you fix it??? I wasted the toilet paper! I wasted it! Can you fix it?" he burst out through his sobs.
I wrapped my arms around him and tried my best to comfort him and explain that it was a mistake that we could try to fix and learn from. "Does it make you sad when you're disobedient?" I asked.
"Yeeesss!" he sobbed.
His crying continued for several minutes despite my best efforts to comfort him.
I was surprised because Lincoln is our boy that generally seems completely unfazed by discipline and usually seems to have little remorse as he giggles over consequences and wrong behavior.
Why was he taking this mistake so hard?
A while later a friend's little boy came over.
I didn't want to expose him to Lincoln's cold, so while Wesley played with his friend, I let Lincoln watch "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" on the computer in our room. It was an episode where Daniel gets mad and has to learn how to cope and calm down.
A few minutes into the show, Lincoln came running out of our room on the verge of tears.
"They're going to do a mistake! I don't want to watch it!" he said frantically. "They're going to do a mistake!!!"
I had a moment of realization so I reached down and lifted him gently onto my lap.
"Lincoln, do Mommy and Daddy still love you when you make a mistake?"
"No," he said sadly.
I was crushed.
Evidently our efforts to discipline with love had not been successful,
and Lincoln was feeling the weight of tremendous guilt and stress over his mistakes
instead of feeling love as we helped him learn and do his best to fix them.
I drew his sturdy little body close to me,
wiped the tears off his cherubic, rounded cheeks, and reassured him over and over of our constant love, even when he makes mistakes. He eventually returned to Daniel Tiger and life carried on as usual,
but I've been stewing over the situation quite a bit.
I love the new teaching program Teaching in the Savior's Way.
It's an excellent resource for parents as well as those who have been called to teach in the Church.
And it's interesting that the NUMBER ONE principle that is taught and emphasized over and over is "Love those you Teach."
If they can't feel your love, the teaching is largely ineffective.
The NUMBER TWO principle is "Teach by the Spirit." That means that my second focus needs to be on my own personal state of being. I likewise cannot teach effectively if I am doing so in response to anger or my life is not in order.
After those principles are taught and addressed, the manual explains how to teach.
My parenting is constantly being refined.
I learn more and more and I recognize that each of our children needs an individually catered approach.
Sometimes that refining process is painful and involves regret.
But regret is a sign of progress.
And so I continue to learn and to hope that I can teach with love as our Savior.