This afternoon I witnessed my son do something that was very interesting to me -- humbling, but positive. We were at the local Science Center and he was engrossed in an exhibit involving physics; sort of a cross between pool and pinball, where you could alter the set up of the rubber thingies giving resistance to pool balls which you could shoot up into the table and try to get in a pocket. He was hard at work at this with another boy his age. Both were of course trying to master it and trying to outdo the other. Both would exult when they succeeded and gloat a bit when he succeeded but the other failed. And with a little groan they would persevere when they both failed. But at one point, they got into a little tussle over the ball. Here's where my son was imitating me -- he got angry at the other boy. But seconds later, he apologized for his angry outburst.
I think of these as "mentally frameable moments".
I have labored under weird notions about anger. I've actually considered it a bit of a victory that I'm able to get angry at all, right in the faces of other people. Keeping anger inside until it festers into bitterness is very unpleasant. Blow ups, I believe, are relatively much more healthy. And I do blow up more often than I'd like to admit, especially at my son. But I've learned that there's not that much harm in it, as long as I recollect myself and humble myself and take responsibility when my behavior is out of line or uncharitable or disrespectful, and apologize.
It can be very hard to apologize to a child, but it is probably easier than apologizing to an adult, because children are much more likely to quickly forgive and forget. They are Godlike in that way. At least, thank God, my son is.
Apologizing for my angry outbursts and rude behavior is not something I am proud of, because I truly wish to avoid the negative deed to begin with.
But today I realized that modeling repentance, humility, and reconciliation to our children is something that is so natural to family life that all children should learn very well how to do it by seeing their parents do it all the time. Unless the children never provoke their parents or the parents are way beyond me in their patience, good humor and tolerance.
Ok, my children at least should get pretty good at this.
And it makes me realize that God is far more concerned over my pride than my frustration threshold.
Which reminds me of a thought only slightly related that I'll tack on here for the fun of it.
One of the exhibits at the Science Center was about sound waves and how it relates to ultrasound machines. The basic layout was a continuum of sound levels, activated by waving your hand in an area that somehow tripped some kind of a laser thingy. (You can see that science is not my forte.) I moved my hand from the inaudible level to the "ultrasonic" level, and noticed the difference of the sound. Then I read more closely how the continuum was labeled. A certain section was labeled "audible to dogs" and a farther section "audible to humans". Strange, I thought. I waved my hand again over the "dog" area. It was subtle, but I could hear sound without straining. I asked my husband if he could hear it, and he just looked at me (maybe he couldn't hear me!)
No wonder I can be so hyper-stimulated by sound, if I pick up ranges that humans aren't supposed to be able to!
So, frustration level? Yep, pretty low if it involves my noise machine of a son.
The Lord has wonderful plans for all of us, including the basic adventure of learning to live with other human beings who are so different from ourselves.