My grandmother had a name for my Uncle Bill who could never be told anything - El Supremo. He had it all figured out. I used to find this nickname humorous, until my children became older and I realized I have an El Supremo myself. In fact, mine is sitting across the table from me as I type writing out a punishment. Said child will remain unnamed and really more than one have some level of this condition. However, this particular child has taken to saying almost 100 times a day, “I know!” whenever Tate or I speak to them. I question if they really do know, and IF they do know, it leads to the next logical question of why don’t they do it.
Me: “You missed a spot over here while sweeping.”
Them: “I know.”
Really?! So you just don’t care to do the job well then I suppose?
Their next favorite thing to say is, “I am.”
Me: “Do your homework.”
Them: “I am.”
Me: “I can assure you I have no desire to give more instructions in this house than I already do. If you were doing your homework, I wouldn’t have to tell you to do it.”
Ok - so this doesn’t always come out quite so nicely - but you get the point.
El Supremo knows everything, but doesn’t do it OR thinks they are doing something when they are clearly not. It’s a terrible situation to be in and even more frustrating to deal with as a parent. As a priest reminded me recently; if being a parent doesn’t lead one on the path to sanctity, I don’t know what will. Being a parent is hard work. Dealing with these obstinate Know It Alls is enough to drive one to drink a glass of wine at the end of the night which I frequently do!
Tate and I desire our children to not only know what is right and what they should do, but to do it well. As they get older we are beginning to see more and more this lack of follow through. An apathy to doing what needs to be done and an apparent blindness to seeing the simple things around them they could do to help out, be it siblings or parents. They want to do the absolute bare minimum but at the same time keep a very close eye on making sure they get whatever they think is coming to them.
As Catholic Christians, we can get sucked into this same mentality. Doing just the bare minimum in our faith lives, only giving from our treasure what we deem as extra, failing to see those around us in need of our help. Am I really seeking to give my best to God and do all things well; be it prayer, tithing generously, service to family, or service to neighbor? I will be the first to confess I fall short in all these categories.
I wonder how God feels about me? Does he become as frustrated as I become with my children? My heart tells me He does not get frustrated, but is disappointed and saddened. To me this feeling of letting my Lord down is far more painful than being yelled at, so to speak, by God. At the same time, I know God loves me. If He loves me, I can love me despite knowing all my faults. I can and do hope to be fully who God made me to be. To aspire each day to be closer to that true reflection of Christ and not settle for apathy or spiritual blindness. To be willing to put in the hard work and have the humility to see those areas I need to work on.
It sounds so good when I type it out, so difficult in practice. Such is life.
As for my child still sitting across the table, refusing to finish their punishment and move on with their night, there is another lesson there for me. I cannot be free until I am who God made me to be. I am imprisoned, so to speak, by my faults and shortcomings.
I desire to be free. I desire to love as I ought. Lord, help me be who you made me to be and never settle for anything less. JMJ