We’re trying to build obedience in Bronson.
He’s picketing in protest like a union worker.
But we trudge along anyway, building blocks of progress. He occasionally bulldozes the foundation we’re laying, and all three of us have a stare down. Stubbornness is the victor, and I’m stunned that our one-year-old embodies so much of it.
To my amazement, though, he occasionally adds blocks of his own, and we see hope. Progress. He is learning, and occasionally, he demonstrates the best sort of obedience – initiative.
We don’t want simple compliance. Our ‘no’s’ and boundaries and redirections are about much more – they’re about teaching him the way to live – safely, kindly, compassionately, peacefully, respectfully, responsibly. We’re trying to build the foundation of quality character.
For the past few months, we’ve focused on one specific area of learning. December was feeding himself; January was picking up after himself; February is walking himself. (Believe me, if you have a basketball on your belly carrying a wiggly toddler is a tad tricky.)
And through the no’s and the try-agains and the focus-and-complete-the-tasks, something happened. He wants utensils. He joyfully stomps his feet while we walk into the store. Just this morning, he cleaned his room on his own initiative. He picked up blocks and balls and began the foundation of responsibility.
And this sort of obedience brings great joy. He’s not just responding to my admonition; he’s developing his own ambitions for appropriate behavior.
And that’s the whole goal.
It’s easier to do the right thing when the boundaries are clearly marked, when doing the wrong thing would be obvious; but it’s far greater to do the right thing on our own initiative, when no one would notice the omission.
That’s true character – a willingness to do what’s best, what’s right, what’s Godly, on our own initiative without anyone spelling out the specifics for us.
It’s in those moments that obedience becomes more than compliance. It becomes a construction of character.