Drop the ‘Tude Dewed!
My daughter hates to be patronized. She always has. At three, her grandpa took her by the hand and showed her a beautiful vase full of wheat.
“Teagan,” he began, “do you know what this is?”
“Wheat,” she sarcastically replied — hand on hip.
“And,” he continued unaware of the rolling eyes below him, “do you know where bread comes from.”
“Wheat,” she muttered through clenched teeth.
“Very good,” papa exclaimed (in a voice an otave above normal patronizing).
“Hey papa,” said Teagan, eyes twinkling as she pulled him into her trap.
“Yes, sweetie,” he inquired, still unaware of her sarcasm.
Teagan pressed her bottom towards the wall behind her, tucked her hands into her arm pits, and flapped imaginary wings. “Do you know what I am?”
Papa, finally getting the picture, reluctantly answered: “a chicken.”
She shook her hips, “and do you know where eeeegggs come from?”
“A chicken,” he muttered.
Teagan clapped her hands and raised her voice an octave, “very good!”
Six years later, she can still smell a patronizing comment a mile away. There is no persuading nor convincing her with anything less than mature logic.
So you can imagine my dilemma when I bought tickets for the Dew Tour: a four-day skateboarding and BMX biking event. I tried to act like it was an event for the whole family; telling her first that we got to stay the night in Portland, that Voodoo donuts sat just blocks from the hotel, and that the mall opened at 10 O’clock Saturday morning. By the time I got to the 8 hours of X games planned for Friday, she wasn’t buying it. She knew her brother alone wanted to see the Tour.
“How about we drop you and TJ off at the Tour, and grandma can take me shopping?,” she asked, always quick on her feet.
I stuck to my guns, trying to convince her it would be fun. We both knew that misery awaited her.
Sure enough, her sulking began during the 90 minute car ride. . .
It continued in every photo-op . . .
And she all but vomited when we found the video game tent.
The trained salesmen running the product booths were drawn to her bad attitude like a moth to a flame. Let me just say that nothing makes a princess happy like a free pair of Sony Playstation sunglasses, a National Guard baseball cap, and “give the boys a hand” carabiner. They might as well have asked her where eggs come from.
After four hours of feet dragging, constant weather reports (it’s hot out here), a drone of complaints, and threats of death by boredom; I pulled out the mom voice. Teagan and I had a long heart to heart about attitude, enduring for other’s sake, and choosing joy.
I realized that I had tried to patronize her with the promise of donuts on Saturday, when I needed to just talk to her. I needed to acknowledge her complaints in a way that taught her a better way. She wasn’t perfect after that, but she was better.
In the book of Isaiah, God speaks to Judah about a day of redemption. He promises that they will be freed from their captivity, brought back to the land promised, restored as a nation. God speaks of sorrow turned to joy, captivity to salvation, poverty to riches.
In the midst of all these glorious proclamations is a curious word. God speaks and says: those who complain, shall be taught.
God is not interested in patronizing us. He doesn’t promise donuts so that we will do what He asks. He wants to heal our complaints by teaching us of his goodness and grace.
I admit that I am often guilty of complaining; about circumstances, tasks at hand, current physical conditions. What a comfort to know that I do not need to hide my complaints from God. I, who complain, just need to be taught. What comfort to know that His promises are not patronizing, but the cure to an ungrateful heart.
Put on your mom voice, God, I am ready.