Pavlov’s Pups

If you love me, keep my commands.

John 15:14

When I wrote my post yesterday, I think I knew that yesterday was going to be a challenge. Partly because of some things on my mind and some struggles I was having. But, I should know by now that when I pray for patience- there are going to be many, many opportunities to exercise patience. After all, how do you know you have patience unless it is tried and tested?

At first I thought it was something about the church office. Whether I bring video games, books, dolls or music- they always seem to end up running around like loons. By the end of the day, I was convinced that it was more of a “Pavlov’s Dog” event. If you are unfamiliar with the experiment, in 1901 Ivan Pavlov was studying “conditioned reflex” using a bell and dog food. When he rang the bell, he presented a dog with dog food, which would cause the dog to salivate. By the end of the experiment, the dog was salivating at the mere sound of the bell. That dog had associated food with the bell. In the church office, the phones are busy…while the kids resisted the urge to run, jump, tickle, shout, dance, hide under the desks and open and close doors for a while…they finally succumbed to the power of the bell. (sigh)

After the church office, I had to go to the bank and thought I would take these hungry kids to Subway before we went on to a friend’s house to play. It was a wonderful lunch…until….the phone rang. It was a call from a woman at church that I had been expecting. Since I was done eating and the kids were finishing up- I took the call. It wasn’t long before they were up playing with the trashcan and opening and closing the beverage cooler door which was situated immediately behind me. (sigh)  So, I loaded them into the car began another conversation (lecture) about listening. They politely (NOT) ignored my words as they pinched each other and tattled. I turned off the car and got out to take a minute. When I re-entered the car…it was ON…let the liturgy of mom-isms commence.

“I cannot take you to a friend’s house if you will not listen to my words…in the car!”

“I don’t understand why it is so hard for you to sit in the church office for 30 minutes with a book when you can do it at home.”

“I don’t want to yell- it’s not my thing. Do you WANT me to yell and fuss at you guys or would it be better to listen and have a little fun?”

The youngest latched onto the first statement and began crying over and over again, “But, I wanna go to my friends hoooooooouse.”

I continued, “If I were a good mom, I would take you home and not reward you for this behavior. But, I  want to see my friend too and should not be punished for YOUR behavior.”

Then silence. I was tired of talking and just needed quiet. So we drove over the bridge and continued up the road. My daughter had cried herself to sleep and my son quietly whispered, “Mom, are you mad at me?”

I burst into tears and had to pull over at the park-and-ride. I explained to him how much I love him and how I just want him to show me some respect. I don’t want to yell to get it, I don’t want to threaten…I just want him to listen and respond. I acknowledged that my patience was thin today and that was something I need to work on…and the listening is something he needs to work on Together, we can do better. I have never been a mom before and am figuring all of this out…there are some days when I feel like I just FAIL. Yesterday, was one of those days when I was questioning myself. What am I doing wrong here? Then out of my mouth comes, “Son, I want you to show your love for me by listening and obeying my instructions.”  He apologized and we talked about how we can do a better job and have more fun in the process. The rest of our drive I pondered…Jesus said the same thing to his disciples. When I disobey and do not follow God’s commands…does He feel the way I do inside at this very moment. Now, I know that you can’t put human traits/feelings on the Lord, but this kind of gave me a new understanding of how He, my Father, would like me to respond to Him. Yet, another lesson learned from my children.

When we got to our friend’s home, they were placed in time out for eleven minutes…the sum total of both of their ages. And we moved on with our day.

I know that the bell or ringer doesn’t cause my children’s behavior to change, but rather that when my attention is divided and I am not paying attention…they take advantage. When we are not focused on the Lord and His desires for us…we are more likely to step outside of His will for us as well. If I really love Him, I will keep His commands.


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