Mommy: "First you need to get the Lorax (stuffed, library reading buddy that was supposed to be returned later in the day), and bring him downstairs."
Aydon: "No, I don't want to. (lying down on floor) I want chocolate chips."
Mommy: (growing confused and slightly exasperated... you see, this conversation had already been repeated several times...Mommy was not sure why it was so hard to understand that the Lorax needed to be fetched BEFORE Aydon would receive a few token pieces of chocolate--This chocolate was not a reward, either, it was something little man received in very moderate amounts every now and then) "I already told you that you have to get the Lorax first."
Aydon: (still lying on floor) "You go get it for me, mommy."
Mommy: "If mommy gets the Lorax for you, then you won't get to have your chocolate chips. Mommy said if you want chocolate chips you have to get the Lorax first."
Aydon: "No. I don't want to. Mommy, I want chocolate chips."
Mommy: (peering towards heaven) "Dear God. I am running out of patience here. Is there something wrong with little man's understanding of this situation? Am I asking too much of him? Please, give me wisdom!"
Mommy remembers that parenting by grace means sometimes making a genuine, kind offer to help the child when the child feels too week to comply. Mommy is still confused, but decides to act with tenderness toward her perplexing offspring.
Mommy: "Aydon, how about I hold your hand and we go upstairs to get the Lorax together? You will still have to carry it, but I will be right there with you."
Aydon: "Ok, mommy! Thanks!" (stands up, holds out his hand to be held, allows his mommy to lead him up the stairs)
Mommy: (slightly shocked by change in attitude) after mommy and aydon reach the top of the stairs: "Ok, go get the Lorax and let's bring him downstairs. He is soft, so you can even throw him down the stairs if you would like to."
Aydon: (sweet, sad eyes peering up at mommy) "Mommy, I don't want the Lorax to go back to the library. Why can't he stay here with us?"
Mommy: (holding back tears of dawning understanding) "Aydon, you are sad that the Lorax has to go back. Is that why you didn't want to get him?"
Aydon: "Yes, mommy. I don't want him to go back."
This incident happened just a few days ago, but it continues to replay in my mind, especially when I am feeling exasperated at my child for not quickly doing what I ask! I realized through it that my little boy is so complex, even though so small. When he does not want to comply, there is almost always a good reason why. As a mommy, if I am willing to get to know my child, to cultivate relationship with him, to "help" him when he is unable to comply, I know that I will be amazed at the depth and intricacy of his emotions as he reveals them, trustingly, to me. I am finding that each time my precious eldest child has a hard time doing what I ask, that I, as I exercise patience and understanding, will only grow to love him more (and I am sure that this will be true with my daughter as well).
I am reminded of the compassion with which Jesus addressed crowds of unruly, unrepentant people. I am reminded of how he tenderly called them "sheep without a shepherd." I am reminded of how he sacrificially offered himself on their behalf, willing to go the extra mile to reach them, knowing that they could not help themselves, probing the depths of their hearts. May we always allow the Lord Jesus to be our guide and constant companion, the tender gardener and gentle shepherd of our mommy-hearts!