There must be something universal about a mother’s voice. I have found that all I have to do is say “MISS Parkinson” in that certain tone of voice and Renee wants to know what she’s done and Muffy jumps off of whatever she’s on.

Recently Muffy was crying at the basement door and Glenn thought she had lost a toy under the door. Being a very good kitty-daddy, he opened the door to get it. While he was looking around for the nonexistent toy, she scooted past him and down the steps. All I heard was “Muffy, you tricked me! Muffy, don’t do that! Muffy, that’s not nice! Muffy, come back here!” When I went see what was going on—there he was following the cat around the basement and trying to convince her to go upstairs! I clapped my hands and said “Ok, Muff, all done.” and she went scurrying back up the stairs.

It occurred to me that she was responding to a voice with authority. Then I started thinking about authority. Where I have it, I had better be careful how I use it! So much of what we say (and how we say it) we forget about soon afterwards. But the heart that hears it may not. People can be hurt by authority that is over-used—or under-used. In dealing with kids especially, I remember something I read once—choose your battles carefully. There are things that are very important and worth asserting authority. Then there are things that just aren’t going to matter years from now—is it really worth the fight to have the final say?

So many times I react—and then I think. I’m praying that I will learn to do it the other way around, so that the Lord will be pleased and say “Well done.” Those would be wonderful words to hear!

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