Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The carrot or the stick

"First one packed and back to shore gets to dole out the oreos!"
I shouted.
The groaning teens, who did not want to leave the river and return to school work suddenly shot into action. Even the nearby Great Blue Heron perked up at the mention of Oreos.

"Oreos!" cried Josh.

He began racing around the sand bar, gathering his skim board, throwing on his life jacket, and hopped in the boat.
"What's the hurry?" asked Ben, who must not have heard me.
"I want to be the oreo doler!" cried Josh, shooting off into the current.
"Oreos!" said Ben, and he jumped in his boat and raced after Josh.
Asherel was slowly and methodically settling into her kayak. She had a secret weapon though. She knew the short cut under the low pier bridges along shore.

As the three kids raced each other back to shore, and I glanced happily at my watch, I knew that this time, we would beat rush hour traffic home. There was none of the usual dragging and dawdling. Why am I so dense to forget to use the "carrot" rather than the "stick" more often? The boats were unpacked, loaded in the car, and everyone settled with hungry faces in their seat exactly by my timetable. The oreo doler, who was not told he had to be fair, was fair...to some degree. There was one extra oreo and to avoid any semblance of favoritism, he ate it.
"Cause I'm just that kind of guy," he told the group glaring at him.

It was a wonderful day, as kayaking on the Catawba always is, but I learned (again) a very important lesson. It is perhaps the lesson most critical in raising happy children. Motivate and encourage with positives. Punishment and threats just don't build joy. Yet when I am at the end of my rope, patience, and energy, I reach for the easy solution, the "or else" solution.

God, as usual, knows best. We are made aware that Hell exists, and we do not want to go there. However, the overriding message of the Bible is that God loves us, and yearns for us to love Him and be with Him. He beckons continually with the offer of sweet mercy, forgiveness, grace, and eternal joy.

And I plan to keep a bag of oreos in my kayak kit.

Ruth 2:12
12 May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

1 comment:

  1. Vicky, After reading your last two blogs in the last two days, I am sure you have somehow a spy camera into my life and thoughts. Well, in a way you do: God knows what is going on in my life and heart and He made you write your blogs just for me! From God's mouth to your fingers to my ears. Thank you. -- Carol