My Lenten task this year is becoming more and more refined as I walk through each day. My sacrifice this season is to “choose the good.” You might say at first blush, “Well gee, Mrs M…that’s no sacrifice!” but you would be wrong, my friend. It does feel like a loss to let go of a way of behaving that I’ve grown accustomed to…quite a lot it seems. It has not been easy to give up these little battles without the usual fight or retreat into fantasy brain land. It’s hard to explain but just trust me, it’s not easy and it is a sacrifice. You do trust me, don’t you?Don’t answer that (unless it’s “YES”)
This is the moment though I wanted to put out there to you today. Observe Miles, my youngest…
It’s hard to tell from this picture but he was in character…as he is often. He decided today that he would smear pancake syrup on both of his hands and perhaps his face for this character. He was the “Silver Surfer” from the Fantastic Four. When he tried to leave my kitchen obviously I started in with the mama hissy fit and wiped his hands and face. He had a meltdown. He was shouting and crying and I was about to shout, myself….as I am apt to do.
In that moment though, here’s the thing, I decided to choose the good.
In this case I felt the “good” was not to go Dictator-ville on the guy. He was in character and I was ruining his character. Yes, I’m the mama and I’m in charge of cleaning up the syrup hand prints around the house and yet, I kept thinking…choose the good, choose the good…and I chose to engage rather than enrage. (Like that? It’s copyrighted by me but you can use it if you want.)
You see I have these choices that I didn’t really see before. I had thought until, um, last week, that it was my JOB to be the killjoy. I had thought that imposing my iron will in my typical Bohemian Dictator style was just what the Dr. Phil ordered but alas, it’s never been a terribly good fit for us as a family.
In taking a minute to pause and consider the “good” I realized that all I really needed to do just then was engage him…so I did. I put down whatever I was doing and first smeared his hands with syrup again to get us to the peace table. Then I sat down next to him and said, “So tell me about your life here, man…what do you need?” and he began to tell me the story of his “character” and why it was important for the character to have sticky hands. Truthfully, I still don’t get why he has to have sticky hands but that’s beside the point. The point is that he was calm (albeit sticky) and I was calm (and actually amused) and we were having a little moment right there.
When we were done talking I said, “So, you know…you can do this in the kitchen but no sticky syrup hands anywhere else, right?” and he agreed. It took him about three minutes of playing and then he asked me to wash his hands and face off…so I did. And that was that.
I’m generally of the belief in the childrearing part of my life that everything works once and for about 5 minutes at a time and then next time it’s like a totally different television show so I don’t delude myself into thinking that what I’ve got here is a magic bullet. What I do have here though is a really nice moment and I treasure those, I gather those up and hold them close in me. Hopefully that is like a little emotional vitamin to help fortify me for the next time.
I need a lot of these but I’ll take them one at a time.