There are several uses for the word “bad”. Just check out a dictionary and you’ll see a lot of them.
That car is bad! (which actually means good)
Ew, that turkey smells bad. (which means it’s rotten)
I can’t drink milk. It’s bad for me. (which means someone is lactose intolerant)
You get the picture.
Before Rich and I had Brianna we discussed this one particular issue and it is an important one to me. We never ever ever call our children bad. Never! He almost slipped once, but caught himself and looked at me like “uh oh”. They are not bad. What they did might be bad; they may have made a bad decision — but they are not bad. No child is.
I was so embarrassed on New Year’s Eve this year. I went to a church party (never thought I’d go to church on New Year’s Eve… Ha!). My friend and her family were there. We were chatting about some boys who were misbehaving in her son’s Sunday school class. They were trying to get him to turn off the lights. When he refused they started to tease him. The boys she was talking about were both in the class I volunteered for when they were 3 years old. Truth be told, I dreaded having them there every time I volunteered. If they didn’t show up that Sunday, I knew my job just got infinitely easier. They were rotten kids. To the bone. I know I shouldn’t say that, but it’s how I felt. Out. Of. Control. Little. Heathens.
Just to be clear, I no longer serve in the Children’s Ministry — I am so not cut out for that stuff. I couldn’t take it. I do not love other people’s kids and it became apparent to me when I started working in that ministry. Totally a wrong fit. Not my gift. Not even close.
So those boys were about 4 feet away from where we were standing. We weren’t looking at them or making it obvious we were talking about them. She was telling me the story and I told her I had them both in my class before they turned 4 and “they are bad boys”. [suck in breath] Yes, I said “bad boys”. That’s not the worst part of it. I nodded in their direction when I said it and their mother heard me. I know she did. She pretended she didn’t. But she certainly did. Crap! Then, wouldn’t you know it, the following Sunday it was my turn to serve in the 2/3 year old’s room and here comes their mom with her youngest. Oh crap! She acted strange and I was probably visibly uncomfortable, but she didn’t say anything. Neither did I — just on the slim chance she didn’t hear me. But I know she did. I know it. Her reaction when the words left my mouth said it all.
I think it was about 2 more volunteer Sundays for me and I called it quits. I did about 11 months of my 1 year commitment. It wore me out.
A former neighbor of ours came over unexpectedly a lot. She didn’t really get on my nerves because she wouldn’t stay long and if she saw I was busy she’d be on her merry way. One time when she was there Brianna was throwing a fit and not listening to me. I was getting upset with her and neighbor lady interjected, “Brianna you are being a bad girl. You listen to your mommy.” My mouth about hit the floor. Brianna looked at me like “what the???” I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything. I told Rich about it later, but he was just as clueless as I was on how to handle that kind of thing if it ever happened again. I probably should have said, “we don’t use the word ‘bad’ in describing our children — yes she was behaving badly, but she is not a bad girl”. But I didn’t. Weak. Next time, hopefully there won’t be one, I will stand up for what I believe.
I don’t mind seeing or hearing a parent discipline their child. I know what it’s like to be somewhere with two toddlers behaving badly. Trust me. But when I hear “bad boy” or “bad girl” come out of their mouths the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. It has the same effect on me as seeing a child get slapped.
Spanking doesn’t bother me — slapping makes me want to beat the parent’s head in. Slapping a child. What a low life thing to do, in private or in public. Anyway, that’s a different topic for a different day.
What is one thing you will never
say or do when disciplining your child?