Our youngest grandchild just turned two and made the transition from a crib to a big boy bed last week. My daughter called to tell me how well our little guy was doing in making the transition. “He loves it,” she reported. “It’s like he’s been sleeping that way for years,” she added with a thankful laugh.
Later that evening when I was telling John about the conversation, he couldn’t help but brag a little about how well he’d taken to the change. I agreed, but then added, “Our kids did the same thing, though. None of them ever had a problem switching from the crib to a bed. And when we put them to bed, they stayed in bed.”
John agreed, but then laughed and said, “Except that one time when we heard, ‘Is that popcorn I hear?’”.
“Is that popcorn I hear?” What a sweet little memory, along with the thoughts I want to share with you today.
We had tucked two-year-old Zach into bed at his normal time. Usually, he went right to sleep. But about an hour or so later, when we decided to pop some popcorn to eat while watching television, we heard his sweet little voice coming from his bedroom, “Is that popcorn I hear?”
John and I grinned at one another, John answered, “Yes, it is…would you like to come have some?” And like a rocket Zach was out of bed and on his daddy’s lap eating popcorn.
When he was done, I tucked him back into bed and in no time at all, he was fast asleep.
Now for the thoughts I want to share with you about what took place…
One: Routine and rules are important. For everyone. But when it comes to raising our children, they are essential. Routine and rules act as a means of safety and protection. They provide stability and give children an environment they can maneuver around in without worrying about going too far or getting in over their head.
Two: Breaking from the routine and rules you set for your children needs to be the exception rather than the norm. Why? Because if it becomes the norm, then the routines and rules you’ve set are useless and your children become confused and disoriented. But if breaking from these things is the exception, they learn to be flexible, they learn to discern that being spontaneous has its benefits, and they get to experience the joy of grace. They also get to experience your love in a very special way.
So, while I am not ever going to be the person who says that rules are made to be broken, I will say this: there are times when the rules you make because you love your children can also be broken for that very same reason. LOVE.