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Law and Disorder

By Dena Dyer
Guest Columnist -- Oh, what a tangled web do parents weave when they think their children are naive.

---Ogden Nash

One day when my son Jordan was four, just as I was pondering the challenges of parenting in the new millennium, he deliberately disobeyed me. Frustrated, I grabbed him, placed him on my knee and raised my hand to give him a swat. Suddenly, he looked up at me and said, "I smell a lawsuit!"

Okay, I thought, political correctness has just gone way too far.

Actually, he never said that. But if he had, maybe he wouldn't have been too far off using legal-ese in a discipline debate. In fact, after thinking it through, I realized that frazzled moms frequently use law terms—or, at least, strategies of law--in parenting. (Finally, all those hours spent viewing Law and Order are paying off!)

Here are a few examples that we "legal eagle moms" often employ:

Opening arguments—"Wouldn't it be fun to clean up your room?" we kindly ask our charges. "Let's make it into a game—with candy prizes."

Discovery—"What is that green thing under your bed--and why in the world are you eating it?"

Objection—"Don't you use that tone of voice with me, young woman!"

See you in chambers—"If you'll stay on the commode for five minutes, I'll sit in the bathroom with you and read Once Upon a Potty. Again."

Plead the 5th—"Because God made it that way." (This all-purpose answer works surprising well in a variety of situations, at least until the kid reaches kindergarten.)

Cross-examination—"Where did you get that tattoo?" and "Who will be at the party?" for teens; "Why are you licking the carpet?" and "Where's the gerbil?" for younger tykes.

Leading the witness—"Don't you want a delicious green bean?" we ask our little loves, who have ingested exactly four bites of veggies in their life (sorry—French fries don't count!). My hubby—who cooks veggies in bacon grease just to get our son to taste them—sometimes adds, "They have good flavor on them."

Motion to Suppress—The lightening-fast hand movement we make to cover our wee one's mouth when we're out in public and he/she yells, "Mommy, why is that lady so fat?"

Negotiating a settlement—"If you are really good in the store, I'll buy you a kids' meal from Burger King on the way home."

Plea bargaining—"If you go to bed right now, without fussing, you can play with sharp things all day tomorrow."

And, finally, we come to the end of our struggle. It's ten o'clock, they've worn us down, and we decide to use the mother of all defenses:

Closing arguments—"Because I said so. And I'm the grownup. Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah."

I'm sure glad God isn't as petty as I am in his parental dealings with this disobedient child. When I try his patience, He is always fair, doling out just the right balance of justice and mercy. He never, ever says, "Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah."

And He doesn't even make me eat green beans.

I'll take Him as my legal counsel any day.

Notes from the Coach:

Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.

Exodus 18:20, NIV

There must be Someone in heaven who knows the truth about me, in highest heaven, some Attorney who can clear my name . . .

Job 16:19, MSG

Generous in love--God, give grace!
Huge in mercy--wipe out my bad record.

Psalm 51:1, MSG

When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.

Proverbs 21:15, NIV

Excerpted from Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms, Copyright © 2004, by Dena J. Dyer. Used by permission.

Dena Dyer is wife to Carey and mother to their two boys, Jordan and Jackson. Her other roles include professional actress and singer, women's speaker, and author. Dena has written for Woman's World, Today's Christian Woman, Writer's Digest, Christian Reader, and Discipleship Journal.

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