This is no different in my family. My youngest gets away with a lot. And he gets away with even more because for the most part he’s a sweet, good-natured, obedient kid. He’s happy and he smiles and he’s generally fun to be around. So, when he asks for something like a treat, I often give in, just because he’s sweet and darling.
I didn’t really realize just how bad I had let it get, though, until the other day. He asked for a lollipop, and I told him he needed to finish his dinner first. He took one teeny, tiny, almost non-existent nibble and then tried to go for the lollipop. I said no, and he took another tiny bite, then refused to eat any more, insisting on the lollipop. He kept grabbing for it and begging for it and throwing a fit about not getting it. The shock of my lax parenting hit me when I almost gave it to him anyway.
I recoiled from myself, asking in a shocked tone, “What are you DOING?”
None of my other kids would’ve gotten away with that. They would’ve been disciplined long before, and the lollipop would’ve been out of the question. I didn’t give him the lollipop, but I almost did, and the realization that I’ve let my son become so spoiled that he thinks it’s acceptable to throw tantrums when he doesn’t get his way really made me take a second look at how lazy I’ve become.
And I think we get like that in life. We overcome a hard situation, get through a trial, make it past an obstacle, and think, “Hey, I’ve got this. I’m doing fine.” And since we’ve done it once and are now pros, it’s easy to be a little bit easier on ourselves the next time around. It’s easy to get complacent. “It’s cool. I’ve done this all before. No need to worry.” Instead of giving it (whatever “it” may be, from writing to parenting to working a day job to our spiritual lives, to whatever else might come up in our lives) our all, we get lazy.
I know I do.
It’s easy to let little things slide and justify why we didn’t try as hard this time around. It’s easy to let one bit of discipline go a little, to let one negative thought or hurtful word slip, thinking we’re still fine, because we’ve been there and done that and we’re pros at this life thing.
But those tiny slips, those little lapses in judgment, those little spots on our record get bigger until one day we wake up and realize just how spoiled we’ve let ourselves become, and just how much we need to step it up to get back to where we should be.