For some reason, Bethany, the boys and I all ended up in Parker’s room tonight. I helped Parker put his toy train tracks together, Bethany watched, and Kent was helping us take it apart…even though we didn’t want to do that.
Everything was going fine until Kent got in the way of Parker’s train and derailed it. Parker, having just a bit more patience than his father, instantly grabbed the train in Kent’s hand and flung it across the room.
This did not make Kent happy.
Kent retaliated by grabbing Parker’s train and throwing it to the opposite side of the room.
This did not make Parker happy.
What happened next did not make Bethany and I happy.
It all unfolded for me in slow motion. Parker turned his head and followed the arc of his beloved train as it sailed through the air. His face turned from surprise (probably at the skill with which it was thrown) to horror (when he realized that the perfect throw involved his train) to anger.
The anger stage came just as Parker turned his head back toward his brother. I remember a short, very brief pause. If my son were a cartoon, there would have been a little angel on one shoulder and a little demon on the other. Hilarious banter would occur between the two of them until one of them won over Parker’s will.
This time the pitch fork guy prevailed.
Parker swung back and forcefully brought his hand forward, fully opened, onto Kent’s bare back (Kent is a drooling machine now, and with the weather, we just left him in his diaper).
The smack from his hand hitting his little brother’s back left a red mark and it echoed through the room until it was shattered by Kent’s cry of pain.
Parker was disciplined.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says this, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (NLV)
Even though he’s little, I think in that instant before he slapped his brother, Parker made a choice. Sure, it wasn’t a long time and he certainly didn’t think through the consequences, but he made a decision to do wrong. Each of us find ourselves in similar situations every day. It may not be hitting someone, but we all face decisions about how to act. The last sentence of this passage gives us hope and a way out. When we are tempted (notice it doesn’t say “if”), we will have an opportunity to say no. The temptation will NOT be more than we can stand. In other words, there is ALWAYS a way out–we don’t have to “hit our brother”.