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“I see you asking, but I’m saying no.” My words managed to escalated the “poor darling,” but oh well. He needed it. He threw a fit for nearly twenty minutes straight, carrying on in every way imaginable.

It was laughable, really. I didn’t care if the others stared. Sometimes they treat kids like porcelain dolls. No kid deserves that.

Sometimes I think it’s really good for kids to throw a fit and see that it doesn’t get them their way. That they can scream and cry and throw themselves around all they want, and that I won’t pay a lick of attention to them.

Sometimes I think there’s a lot I can teach these kids. And you know the ironic thing? Most if not all of it comes out of the Bible (though of course I don’t tell them that).

“Your brain is telling you to do bad things,” I told another kid. “Tell it to do good things.”

“Tell it to do good things,” he repeats back to me.

“Yes,” I say.

“Do bad things!” He flashes me his most wicked, leering grin.

“When you do bad things, they have bad consequences,” I tell him. I point to his chest. “There’s a compass inside you that tells you what the right thing is.”

“I don’t know what the right thing is,” he tells me.

Hmm. This is a new phrase. Maybe (probably?) his mother taught it to him. Rats.

“Yes you do,” I counter. “You have a compass inside you.” I poke him in the chest again, this time a little more than last time, and he giggles. I smile.

If I can make a difference here, and turn these kids lives around, then it’s all worth it. Every time I get bit. Every time a kid tries to push me around (which cracks me up because of how short they are). Every time a kid spits in my face and then laughs. Every time I get my clothes pulled.

It’s all worth it. And besides, it’s helping tame my temper. You just can’t take things too personally. Even when I got bit (and man alive, did it hurt. I was lucky I was wearing two sweaters or I would have had my skin torn off), I was able to teach a lesson.

“You see that?” I told him. “How would YOU feel if you got bit?” And then, later, the kid comes searching for me, tapping on the window and squeaking in his usual way to be sure I am all right. Nowadays, we’re better with each other. I don’t push him so hard in his work tasks, and he sits for me longer than his usually squirrely self can manage.

Sometimes it’s all about perspective. And looking to eternity, and letting God teach me how to live by the Spirit, when I get so frustrated and fried.

Each of these kids is a gift. Help me always remember that.