I don’t think I will ever tire of these glorious winter days, with temperatures in the 60s and skies strewn with random tufts of cloud. It is equally unlikely that the tribe will weary of them, since it means nearly unlimited outdoor playtime. After a hurried Facebook invite posted late last night, we met up with a group of friends at a local park for a morning of fun, frolic, and joyous praise to the Lord for sending us such a first of February.
We started the day, as we always do, with the girls’ schoolwork. Part of Jackie’s lesson for today involved showing kindness to others, as her coloring page above would indicate. It’s always interesting to talk with the girls about how to be kind to people who are being unpleasant, and even more enjoyable to give them examples of times when they have been unkind or had someone treat them rudely, then role-play our way through how they would like to be treated, particularly in the event of a dispute. Of course, their usual initial response is that they would just want the person to give them what they want, but they smile when they say it, because they know the next question will be, “Okay, you don’t get what you want. What now?” It’s a lesson that will be years in the teaching, but it’s never too early to start.
As it happened, they got quite the object lesson in what happens when you treat someone badly and the person responds in kind (as opposed to in kindness) this afternoon. While the ambulatory contingent of our tribe was playing outdoors, Beanie rather roughly grabbed a shovel away from Mr. Man. Bugaboo promptly informed Mr. Man, in less-than-dulcet tones, that the shovel belonged to Beanie and that the girls did not want to play with him.
Earlier this week, Beanie and Bugaboo thought it would be a hoot to show Mr. Man how to turn the little thumb notches in the doorknobs to lock and unlock the exterior doors (thank God for sticky deadbolts). After a brief but vocal protest, which I observed from the kitchen window, Mr. Man stormed back into the house, slamming the back door behind him.
I had totally forgotten about his newly acquired skill with locks until I heard Beanie and Bugaboo pounding on the back door and wailing tearfully. I believe I only hit one step on each flight getting to that door, where I was greeted by a smugly smiling Mr. Man — who had locked his big sisters out of the house. In all honesty, I had to duck my face into my shirt to smother the grin before I unlocked the door, let them in, and proceeded to explain at some length how each of them had behaved in a rude and disrespectful manner.
Interestingly, later that afternoon, I was following (and participating in) several discussions about a hot news item of the day. I was very saddened to see how many people ten (or more) times my children’s age, instead of finding a way to discuss a point of disagreement constructively, simply slammed a rhetorical door and turned an ideological lock at the first hint of a dissenting view, then proceeded to call insults at those they wished to exclude from the discussion. Perhaps I’m not nuts for insisting that our children learn to settle differences in a respectful manner at such a young age.
Today’s prayer: Lord, it is really difficult sometimes to remember the example Your Son set for us of how to speak hard truth gently. Please help me teach Your blessings to be peacemakers, but to not allow the gentleness of their speech be mistaken for weakness in their faith in the rightness of Your ways. No one of us agrees with everyone else all of the time, Lord, but please help me show Your blessings how to express disagreement without rancor, without hatred, without lashing out with angry words or intent to give insult.