Inexplicably, Mr. Man decided yesterday morning was the ideal time to see how many Kleenex he could stuff in his mouth, and what sort of noise he could make through them.
Often, I spend a good amount of our daily “quiet time” — that time when Mr. Man and Baby Guy are napping — refereeing disputes between my daughters over everything from who gets to curl up behind my legs on the couch to whose favorite storybook should be read first. The phrase, “You don’t love me!’ is heard with lamentable frequency, directed either from Beanie towards Bugaboo, Bugaboo towards Beanie, or either girl towards me. It would be impossible to count the number of permutations my “just because she wants x, doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you, we love people and use things” spiel has undergone, and I’m probably perilously close to repeating earlier versions.
Yesterday afternoon, we passed a pleasant hour of quiet time watching the girls’ favorite television show, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” As it happened, the “Sisterhood Social” episode was airing in the second half of the hour. For those unfamiliar with the show, I highly recommend it for both little kids and the kids who have reached the age of majority. The link in the episode title goes to the full episode. Watch it, especially if you have siblings or more than one child.
Children’s animated shows may seem like an odd source of wisdom, and perhaps even an unlikely teaching tools for a lesson that matters more than most to me. However, on this particular day, it worked. The tribe had been playing with Legos for most of the morning, and the girls were still playing with them after their shows went off. Bugaboo was issuing a steady stream of orders and criticism to Beanie, who wanted to take the Lego creation in a different direction than Bugaboo’s vision, and both girls were becoming frustrated.
In the “Sisterhood Social” episode, the older sister (Rarity) is so bossy and self-centered that the younger sister (Sweetie Belle) eventually declares that she no longer wants a sister, essentially disowning her only sibling. This being children’s television, there is, of course, a happy reconciliation at the end. I called my daughters over to me and asked them if they remembered what had happened in the show, what Sweetie Belle had said to Rarity, and when two little heads nodded, I asked them if either of them really wanted the other to one day decide she doesn’t want to be sisters anymore. They both looked at me a little strangely, and both said, “no.” Bugaboo continued, “Mommy, that was just TV, and like you always say, TV isn’t real.”
I replied, “That’s true — My Little Pony isn’t real. But sometimes, the things they talk about on your shows ARE real. Sisters really do sometimes get so mad at each other that they stop talking to each other. Sometimes brothers do, too. Do you remember when we read in the Bible about Cain and Abel? Sometimes brothers and sisters even get so mad at each other that they kill each other. Really kill each other. Sometimes they just never talk to each other again. And it’s usually over something that if both of them had just remembered to love each other instead of seeing who could get their way with the Legos, wouldn’t have been that important at all.”
My oldest daughter looked at me and said, “Mommy, I don’t think Cain and Abel had Legos.”
I replied, “You’re right, they didn’t. But they found other things to fight over, didn’t they?”
“So do you think you can find some way to either build together or share the Legos so each of you can make something cool?”
I hugged them and kissed them, and sent them on their merry way. After a brief conference, Beanie decided that she would be the Lego scavenger hunter for Bugaboo’s building project, since she didn’t really want to build, but to sort the different colors and sizes of little bricks. It ended with laughter and, when they both got tired of blocks, a request to go play outside to see if the local butterflies had returned after the rain.
Today’s prayer: Lord, You have sent us four little blessings. Help us teach them it is better to be siblings like Moses and Aaron than like Cain and Abel. You came to teach us to love every human being as a brother or sister; please keep us mindful that if we are not loving our own siblings as brothers and sisters, we’re doing it wrong and need to seek Your forgiveness and Your guidance on how to reconcile ourselves to Your way and our family members.