"Do-over" is a common term in our house. It's a discipline technique we use, most often with Kain. Basically, it's a way to re-do a moment in time when his impulsive behavior gets the better of him. Sometimes the do-over is accompanied with other consequences, depending on the severity of the misbehavior, but very often it is not. Usually the incident in question just involves less than polite behavior or just plain thoughtlessness. If he rudely shoves past someone, a do-over means that he will practice moving politely by and saying "excuse me". If I tell him it's time to do math and he begins to whine and wail, a do-over means that he will practice saying, "yes ma'mm" and planting his rear end at the table quietly. (No, we're not big "ma'mm-ers" around here, but I do demand it when I feel respectful behavior needs to be strongly established...i.e., when I hear a "tone".) And for these kinds of circumstances, performing the do-over without a lousy attitude is enough of a consequence.
Yesterday, God gave me a do-over. Isn't He good?
We were in the library parking lot yesterday afternoon, running late as we so often do, and there was not a parking space to be found. They were having a special children's program, and it was mobbed. On my third impatient circle around, I spotted a woman beginning to load a couple of kids into a van and descended. I perched behind her, waiting, while she loaded up and backed out of the space. Of course, you can guess what happened next. Another van approached from the other direction and tried to swoop in on the space I was waiting for. "OH NO SHE DIDN'T!" you cry! But yes! Yes, she did! She sure did! In a move out of character for my nonconfrontational self, I aggressively zipped in ahead of her, just barely, and shot her a LOOK. She paused and I wondered briefly how ugly this was going to get, but in the end she left to look for another spot.
Once in the library, I began to feel embarrassed at my behavior. True, I HAD, just for the record, been waiting for the spot long before she even showed up. Also true was that she probably didn't know that. I was behind another row of cars, and it's very possible she didn't even see me waiting there. True, I was running late for the children's program,,,but she probably was too. In fact, she was probably in the same room with me, a thought that came into my head frequently as I tried very hard to avoid making eye contact with any other adults there, pictures of various ugly confrontation scenarios running through my head. The question wasn't so much did I have a *right* to take the parking space, but was taking the space the right thing to *do*? Was it the most *charitable* thing to do?
Of course not. I've been reading the Treasure Box books to Jack, and the story of St. Therese and her sacrifice beads popped into my brain, how she would quietly accept little opportunities like this to offer up to God. The charitable thing to do would have been to back off and let her have the space. Not out of intimidation or fear of a confrontation, but out of love for Christ and love for this other harried mom who was just trying to find a parking space.
Later that same day, late in the evening, I was circling the Big Box Mart parking lot and thinking about the incident earlier that day in a distracted kind of way. It was a busy evening, and so I was pleasantly surprised to see a spot, open and waiting, front and center. Just then another car came around the corner. I could tell he had seen the spot and was hurrying towards it. And even though I was right there, ready to park,,,I drove on. He took the spot, and I thanked God for the do-over.