HELP! My kid isn’t GREEN

20150413-201336-72816288.jpgHere’s the thing.  I have green kids**, ones who bring home folders from school that are (nearly) always colored some delightful color of green.  They obey the rules, listen to their teachers, complete their assignments, are kind to their friends, take turns.  And don’t flood bathrooms.

Obviously, this is because I’m a green-kid-kind of parent.  I set boundaries and high expectations.  I read to my kids as infants.  I feed them a balanced diet.  We play outside.  I do all the right things.

This was the false sense of security I lived under for two years of elementary-school-aged-kid-parenting, but this school year has been different.  If you were to open some of the folders in my house they look a bit more rainbow colored (heavy on the ROY).  Sometimes there are some big splashes of green, but sometimes…um, not so much.

Red/orange/yellow looks like:

Running and hiding from teachers, using napmats as weapon, chasing others with pencils on the playground, hitting, kicking, throwing objects, “no” being the word of choice, lying, exposing bottom cheeks and YEP flooding the bathroom.

I’ve tried everything.

I have: taken away every single possible privileged and also checked kids out of school mid-day for play time at the park. I’ve gone to eat lonely lunch right beside my one being disciplined to prove we were a team and I’ve spent the morning in a classroom to contribute to redirection; I’ve enforced belt wearing for cheek exposers and extra cleaning for bathroom flooders.  I was late to work every morning for one whole week to sit in line on the cafeteria floor beside one learning the art of keeping hands to himself. This week I even “let” closets get organized so someone could practice “helpful hands”.

Because you know what I’ve been a pro at? THEORIES.  Between my problem-solving brain and GOOGLE, there is a theory behind every behavior pattern.  With every theory comes a suggestion for solution.  It was just a matter of trying the right one.

Honestly, that’s the part that really eats at my core.  The peak of frustration, the inability to see the big picture progress kids have made, the desperation to FIX IT…usually has nothing to do with the kids.

It has to do with me.  One of the places of darkness I have to address constantly in my life is pride.  I want to be someone who figures it out, who makes change, whose theories work, who has solutions and gosh-darnit who has GREEN KIDS**.  I do.  I said it.

Wanna know the shocking reality.  I can’t fix this.  Sometimes there is no method, no magic wand, no quick fix.

Turns out there is only one miracle worker, His name was Jesus and guess who He hung out with?  The not-so-green crowd.  Woman at the well- married 5 times, living with a 6th and Jesus had the nerve to speak into her life.  Zacchaeus- tax collector (and not the polite kind), but Jesus ASKED to eat at his house.  And Judas- don’t even get me started on Judas.  Jesus knew he was going to betrayed by the very man who HE PICKED to be on his A team.  You don’t know about these Red, Orange and Yellow characters from the Bible?  Let me sum them up for you…HOT MESS.

So, what do you do?  You keep doing it.

The only “theory” I’ve found that can hold any kind of weight on the exhausting days of parenting is this one: each day is new.  Each day I get to choose for them and for me- today’s color is not tomorrow’s promise.

So today, I’m color blind.  (Not “behavior blind” but “color blind”.)  Today, I will try to recognize that you kicked someone to the point of swelling, but you had 6.5 hours at school that you kept your hands to yourself.  I can see that you had 8 “colorful” days in April.  But guess what? You had 12 in March. You got sent to the principals office, but you calmed yourself down, talked it through and were able to go back to class.  Today’s progress has to be way more important to me than yesterday’s color.  And better still is the promise of tomorrow.

I want the 7 kids in my home to know the one thing that is always true about tomorrow.  “I’ll love you if you were red, green, purple, orange or polk-a-dotted.  And I’ll love me even if I’m the parent/guardian of red, green, purple, orange or polk-a-dotted.”  We are in this together.  One colorful day at time.

Maybe your kids have traumatic backgrounds.  Or maybe your family is going through a hard time and your kids don’t know how to communicate it.  Or maybe everything seems right at home but he/she still struggles with anger or depression or deep darkness that you can’t penetrate.  Maybe learning disabilities gone undiscovered.  Whatever the reason, you have kids that just aren’t really green.  And harder still, maybe they won’t ever be completely green.

Take heart, friend.  There’s ONE who came for kids like yours, and for parents like us.  He knew the ones who had to struggle most for healing would also embrace it in the fiercest way.

I believe that someday full redemption will paint the most colorful of pictures.  Colorful, yet not an ounce of the canvas will be splashed with any of our daily struggles or failures.  The colors will be vibrant because they won’t be based on our worth, or our kids worth.  They’ll be bright because HE came.  And we believed.  The end.

So each day I’ll get up and choose the colors that can define me.  The red of HIs blood, the white of forgiveness, the bright glow of LIGHT.  Somedays I’ll get to the end of the day and realize I forgot that, but tomorrow I’ll get up and choose again.  And as for the colors of this earth…Well, today I choose color blind.




**I’m sure all schools have their own ways to communicate behavior for the day with parents. Ours uses a color system- Green= great.  Yellow= Warning.  Orange=Not a great day.  Red= OH.MY.WORD.ARE.YOU.SERIOUS???

Updated: May 1, 2015 — 5:42 am


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  1. “Today’s color is not tomorrow’s promise.” I swear, I am painting that on a canvas and putting it somewhere in my house. Maybe in every room. The day the words, “You know what? Just PASS. Just do whatever it takes to pass this class,” came out of my mouth, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. And I said it to two out of two children. (Let’s please take a moment to recognize that for a girl who graduated valedictorian of her class – even if there were only 12 of us – this was not an easy conversation.) What on earth had my world come to when THIS was my standard? When a 74 looked amazing compared to the 17 (really? can a grade actually be that bad?) we were sporting the week before. ONLY JESUS. Grace, mercies new every morning. Color blind. We continue on. PS. I don’t want my identity to be defined by their colors OR MINE. PSS. I miss A in Bible class.

  2. This was awesome! I’m a single mom to 5. I remember the day I got the call from a principal telling me my middle child would have 2 days of ISS for assault with bodily fluids. A 6 th grade boy and his “wipe spit on my friends” idea had gone south and ruined my day. I wish I’d had this sweet reminder then.

    1. Michelle- thanks so much for taking time to share! And MY WORD…five kids and a single mom. I’m sure there are days you don’t feel like it, but you are a rockstar!

  3. I Love love love this, ABL. Great reminder and SO spot on.

    1. Thanks, Kendra!

  4. So many nuggets of wisdom in this article!! I taught school for six years before I had children. I had 6:18 my last year on meds for ADHD. I said no more. God blessed me with two more several years later, and upped the ante by adding various other diagnoses on top. This parenting gig is the hardest thing I have ever done, bar none. Hang in there parents!

    1. Your encouragement is double bonus coming from a teacher AND parent. Thanks for taking time to share!

  5. This is quite perfect that I read this today. Day 3 of K was today, yellow. Days 1 and 2 didn’t have colors but teacher did tell me all about his bad behavior. :( I was heartbroken. I need to let go of trying to immediately fix his behavior issues and broaden my perspective. I noticed you have commented “it’s all realative” on several IG pic and that’s my mini saying too. Because everything is so realative! My expectations certainly aren’t crazy high but maybe for him they are a little too much to ask at this age anyway. I need to take a chill pill! Haha
    I try to tell me kids often that I love them when they obey, and I love them when they don’t obey. Because Jesus loves us even when we sent him to the cross, when we disobeyed, when we sinned so much.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing your heart.

    1. Thanks for taking time to share, Christi! I hope the second week is off to a great start (for both of you)!

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