I haven't blogged for a while, as I haven't had much to say. UK politics has kept me entertained post-General Election, & I have been studying theology & 'doing' ministry on a daily basis. I feel grounded, the family feels fine, and aside from the fact that there is a sink to tweak, wallpaper borders to affix, & a huge amount of decluttering, sorting and tidying to accomplish, I was managing.
But today, I'm just a walking hormone. Not the stressed, is-my-blood-pressure-going-through-the-roof of last week. More like, the 'I will cry at anything' situation. I took my 4 year old to a pre-school group this afternoon, the type where mothers sit around in cliques while their kids take pieces of lego to one another. Actually, the kids were fairly well behaved, sometimes annoying other children, refusing to say sorry and climbing on tables, but that was, to me, just the behaviour of children. And not that I've got it sussed as a parent, but if I was so unhappy with my child's behaviour at that point I would just get the heck out of there.
Which is what I felt compelled to do today, not because of the toddlers, but because of the behaviour of the mothers. I know I'm sensitive, but I was extremely upset by how they were disciplining their kids. I get shouty, but I try not to bellow across a room until my kid is in tears. If I'm unhappy that they are climbing or running off, they'll get stopped, but they won't get hit. And I know that some people find these methods of discipline effective, and don't believe they harm children, but they just had me in tears. No, wait - that wasn't what had me in tears. What had me in tears was the complicity of the other parents. They weren't even turning a blind eye, or trying to look the other way (mixed metaphors, I know!), but they were just acting as if it were regular, accepted behaviour that happens every week.
Imogen took it in her stride (I think the Barbie scooter won her over straight away) but was perplexed by the shouty mums. I had to explain to her that her Mummy was too upset by the hitty & shouty mummys to stay for a drink and a biscuit, so we popped back home for one (I needed tea and chocolate!) On the way home, via a peek into the newly refurbished library, and a discussion in the churchyard about burial, death & grief (as you do), she started humming Kum Ba Yah. And I happened to have it on CD in the car, so we listened. Someone's crying, Lord, Kum Ba Yah. And that's all I can do on this one, ask God to stop by and take action, because I feel all at sea. Yes, I can avoid the places that upset me and try not to replicate the behaviours I see. I can strive to do my best to serve my family, and set an example to others. But what about the other families, whose kids see and hear this violence as standard? How can I possibly reach them, when what they do is so firmly entrenched?
Hear my prayer, oh Lord, hear my prayer.