Yesterday though, from the comfort of my cozy bed, I heard Ethan say, in a somewhat panicked voice, "Si! You are going to be in trouble! Mom is going to be so mad!"
and of course I knew I had to get up. It could only be baaaaaaaaad.
And it was. A whole box of Cheerios poured all over the living room carpet - by my youngest - and then ground into tiny bits by little toddler feet. Oh, such a wonderful thing to wake up to.
As an aside, the rule in our house is, no one gets out food without asking mom or dad first, and they are supposed to be at the table to eat it anyway. Both boys looked very guilty. They definitely knew they weren't supposed to have gotten the Cheerios out, much less litter the carpet with them. The blame was initially thrown on Simon, but some probing revealed that he was given the box by his brother in the first place.
I was so frustrated! I had friends coming over in a couple hours to help sew costumes for the chapel Christmas play, and now I had to spend the first part of my morning picking up hundreds of pieces of cereal and vacuuming up the rest. Our carpet has so many stains because of those 2 little stinkers, and I was (and still am!) so tired of cleaning up after them! It was not one of my finest mothering moments, I have to admit. And afterwards I wished that I had spoken more kindly, handled the situation with a bit more grace.
Don't get me wrong, I think my boys both needed to be corrected for disobeying. This is not a new rule in our home, and occasionally they try to see if we've changed our minds about it. Nope. Kids still eat at the kitchen table. Not changin' our minds about THAT! :)
But I could have spoken more kindly to them, shown my disappointment over their disobedience, instead of just frustration over the inconvenience they caused me.
And I so related to Kim's post about her daughter throwing the container of bleach down the stairs. (But who am I kidding? My situation is NOTHING compared to that!) And after finding out that lots of their clothes were ruined, her question about how to feel better about the situation. "Do you ever LOOSE IT when these types of things happen?" she asked.
Um, yeah. But I so wish that I did not. After all, they are just things--carpet or clothes, or anything else that doesn't stand a chance in a house filled with young ones--not nearly so important as the relationships I am developing with my dear children. I know this in my heart, but in the midst of difficult moments, it doesn't immediately come to mind. I just agonize over it later. :)
As I spent time with the Lord yesterday, I was really convicted by James 1.
"So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."
"...be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
"he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."
"if anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless."
I was reminded in the Lord's gracious way that, just as my two little boys were disobeying, their mama was too. I so need the Lord's help to learn how to respond to these types of situations.
I really appreciated Katherine's posts this week here and here about finding the balance between love and authority when raising preschoolers. Both are so necessary, aren't they? Children need to learn that God put parents in charge and that they need to obey. But they also need to experience unconditional love, in spite of what they do wrong. It is the "goodness of God that leads us to repentance," (Romans 2:4) and I can't help but think that that will go a long way with my littles ones too.
And most of all, it's what the Lord wants of me, to be a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only. To learn His ways and to speak like He would speak. I have so many thoughts about this, but Katherine put it into words very well:
"Some skills are natural for bossy people like me. But others must be painstakingly developed, asking God to do the work in me before He can do a work in them."
Lord, teach me to respond to these little ones the way YOU want me to. Help me be slow to speak in anger, always quick to show Your grace, and be faithful to train these boys You have given us.