Paradox of Push Back

Today is October 31.  It’s Halloween.  I started my blog last year and this was one of my first posts.  My feelings on the topic remain pretty much the same.

I attended a meeting with the Mason County Shelter yesterday afternoon.  The architect and federal funding group showed up to present the latest progress on the 2 new buildings.  Since all the bids were over budget, we were told, they were summarily rejected.  The concept of value engineering bids did not go over well with either the HTF (state funding) or CDBG (federal funding).  So, back to the drawing board.

As we sat in the Sunday school room/fellowship hall/beige box of one of our local churches, it all seemed a bit surreal.  My boss has been trying to get these new buildings erected since 2008. Many small miracles occurred along the way in order to get the parcel of land purchased and to even get the grant money necessary to put them up.  And now, more delays.  The architect informed us that his team had gone through 11 iterations since 2009 in order to get the budget for the structures down from $2.5 million to $1.7 million.  I’m thinking, What?!  You’ve gone through, line by line, and cut costs 11 times?  When do you push back and say, “That’s it!  Let’s get this puppy built or find another architect.” I don’t know. It’s not my call.

With the wistful rug of Jesus on the wall witnessing our entire meeting, I had to wonder.  When do you say enough is enough?

I had a little moment like that with Zac this morning.  Yesterday, he forgot his lunch. Yesterday afternoon, he returned home and devoured it.  He could have eaten a hot lunch at school but he has a balance on his account.  He didn’t even want to ask if he could have a hot lunch and risk possible embarrassment, so he didn’t eat anything for lunch. Fast forward to today, and as we pulled into the parking lot of his school, I asked if he had his lunch.

“Ah, Jeez!” he exclaimed. He did not have it.

“Well, you keep putting it in the wrong place,” he countered.  “You move it and I can’t find it.”

I patiently explained that I put it by his shoes purposely so he *wouldn’t* forget it.

“Yeah, well, I didn’t see it,” he groused.


You have nothing to do today.  You could bring it up to me.”

I laughed. So that’s how you want to play it?

“Zac, I might do that.  But the point is that you forgot it.  You can’t blame it on me. You spent 5 minutes looking for your comb.  If it mattered to you, you would have located it.”

He didn’t like that.

“No, you moved it!  I couldn’t find it. You know I’m not a morning person. It was 7 o’clock in the morning. It’s your fault!”

I had had it.

I ordered him to get out.  I was done.

We rolled up to the dropoff point. He hopped out into the downpour and raced into the school.

Jonathon, merciful man, later brought him his lunch.  He also told me Zac was wearing the shoes which had been right underneath the forgotten lunch.  He had to move them to put the shoes on. Arggh!

We are trying, sometimes successfully, to teach our kids to take responsibility for their actions and to let consequences teach.  Sometimes it takes, sometimes it doesn’t.  But to us, it’s very important they learn this lesson at home when the loss is relatively small than out in the world when it could cost them their house or job.

With the shelter, we will continue on and keep good communication open and believe the best about the people involved in the project.  We have to press on.  The new shelter/office and apartments will be completed sometime if we continue to have faith. It’s a learning curve for all of us.

Most likely, Zac will return home and apologize. Jonathon’s act of kindness, and our unintentional good cop/bad cop style of parenting, smoothed things over a bit. There is a place for that, at times. I will apologize for getting angry. This will open the dialogue about where we should leave his cold lunch in the future so that it is easy to find. In this way, all of us will get to grow up.