Easter, Pillow Pets, & Lessons About Grace

Erik Cooper —  April 25, 2011 — 3 Comments

I could feel it coming. “Dad, I should’ve gotten the brown dog.”

We hadn’t even exited the parking lot, and he was already lamenting his decision.

“Sorry son, choices have consequences. Enjoy your white bear.”

My kids had reaped a sizable harvest of pocket change in the annual family Easter egg hunt, and that cash was already burning a hole in their pastel pants pockets. And since Pillow Pets are apparently this year’s Tickle Me Elmo

“It’s a pillow. It’s a pet. It’s a Pillow Pet.”

…I found myself in an overstuffed aisle at one of our 127 neighborhood CVS stores (seriously, those places multiply faster than Easter bunnies) as they painstakingly chose new animal-shaped bedding to add to their litters.

After 15 minutes of intense debate (the dog, no the bear, no the monkey, wait maybe the dog), my 5 year old son finally embraced a cute, little Panda to call his own. But his commitment was shorter-lived than a Christian Slater television series.

Dad, we’ve got to go back.”

And when mean, old dad refused to turn the car around, the stuffing hit the fan. An all out assault on rational, human behavior ensued (and lasted the better part of an hour). It was a proud parental moment. Happy Easter.

Time to throw down.

When I became a dad, I instinctively developed an affinity for Danny Tanner quality lectures. It’s a dormant gene that resides in all humanity, only emerging following procreation. They never work, but we can’t help it. They’re involuntary.

So with the effectiveness of Charlie Brown’s teacher (whah whah, whah whah…), my oratory skills spontaneously kicked into action. But it was Easter Sunday. I owed my son a better effort than that.

As the feathers finally started to settle, I got an idea. We hopped in the car and headed back to the store. This speech needed a lab session.

On the drive, we talked about Jesus. How His death took the consequences of our bad decisions. How His resurrection gives us a do-over. Why Easter is all about us getting what we don’t deserve. What we didn’t earn.

My son deserved nothing.

He earned punishment.

He got his new Pillow Pet.

He exchanged his poor decision (and ensuing meltdown) for a gift he didn’t deserve. The gift of grace.

Doesn’t he need to learn responsibility? Shouldn’t he experience consequences?

Yep. And there will be plenty of opportunities for that (come hang out with us for a day).

But yesterday was Easter. A day for pardon. A day for unbalanced transactions. A day that’s all about us getting exactly what we don’t deserve, Pillow Pets and all.

How have you experienced God’s grace? Have you?

3 responses to Easter, Pillow Pets, & Lessons About Grace

  1. In a society of ‘real world’ visions, reward for bad behaviors, rudeness, and lack of personal responsibility …

    I think your account portrays exactly what we tend to miss most of the time, unless we make the effort to absorb and consider our actions, behaviors and choices.

    As a mother who’s raised two incredible boys (no, seriously, they are both, quite incredible human beings and men) … 🙂
    I find its the non-traditional teachings, the moments when we step back, assess and “teach our children well …” that makes all the difference.

    Will your son remember 10 years from now, the lesson and experience of Easter 2011 and the Pillow Pet Saga? Who’s to say … but you can bet that subliminally … it will reside for a lifetime, and even in moments when he can’t figure out why he’s choosing what he does … there will be the underlying experience of yesterday that is the foundation.

    Kudos to you for the road less traveled in parenting and spirit.


  2. You haven’t taught your son about the consequences for making bad decisions, you’ve taught him that throwing a big enough fit and humoring Dad’s incomprehensible lecture is enough to get what he really wants.

    The concepts of divine pardon and unearned Grace that Jesus’ sacrifice represents is a lesson a 5-year old is simply not capable of understanding. I don’t see how presenting this moral lesson to a child not yet capable of reason accomplishes anything, when a simple, “too bad” would have been a more effective response. After all, the burned hand teaches best.

    • I hear you Michael, and I appreciate the tension of your observation. I believe in the power of consequences, and allowing reality to teach lessons. But today, this just seemed like the right approach.

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