This is a really long post but I think its worth reading. This is a perfect example of how raising kids can drive you to tears of rage one minute and tears of joy the next. I spend my life teaching my kids but ultimately they teach me far more.
This morning I got up and got the kids fed breakfast. Babyham is at an age that he refuses to be fed by another person. All food has to be self fed. This means no yogurt, no babyfood, no cereal etc. They just don't make it into his mouth, they end up all over his body and all over anything within a few feet. Today he had scrambled eggs and pear slices and fresh strawberries. The other habit he has developed that is particularly charming is when he is finished eating, whatever food is left on his tray gets thrown as far as he can throw it. The dogs love this program, but it is driving me insane. Not only do I have to pick up all of the food, I have to sweep and mop the floor and then usually clean up dog barf within the hour if I am lucky enough to discover it while it is still in a clean-able form. You get the idea.
Abraham is at such a tricky age with discipline. He is only 15 months old but he knows what he is doing. He knows it is naughty. He knows that he is cute enough to get away with it. So, today when I discovered that the whole kitchen was covered with strawberries and pears, I insisted that he get down and help me clean up. To say he refused is an understatement. He made it clear that he would not be picking up any of the food. I was down on the floor with him physically forcing his hand to pick up strawberries and he was throwing his body into contortions to avoid picking up the fruit. We were locked in a battle of wills and we were both absolutely commited to winning. Weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, smashing of pears and strawberries, flailing arms, the clean up song sung repeatedly through gritted teeth. You get the picture.
He went into a full tantrum over it. Doesn't he know that he is way too young for this terrible two's crap? I decided "fine, he can just sit here on the ground in my lap until he decides to clean his mess." He freaked. I held my ground. He threw a strawberry in my face. I held my ground. Finally I said to him, "Babyham, I think you might need a spanking." This comment got Jack's attention, who up until then I didn't know was watching. He raced over and said to Abe earnestly, "Just pick up the mess, Babyham. I don't want you to get a spanking!" Babyham responded by throwing a pear in Jack's face. Then Jack did something that surprised me. He began picking up all of the mess. He even got out a rag and spray cleaner to wipe up the juice. I was so impressed with his display of brotherly love (especially since Jack has a long history of being adverse to cleaning). Once it was all clean he said "Mom, will you let Babyham go now since his mess is clean?"
Yes. Babyham is free to go. You paid the price for him.
I was deeply touched by the whole interaction. I pulled Jack aside and explained to him that what he just did for his brother is just like what Jesus Christ does for us. He cleans up the messes we make so we can be set free. He does is for the same reason you did it for Ham, because He is our Big Brother and he loves us. I thought about how often we toddle off like Babyham after the fact without any appreciation of the gift we were given.
I really felt like Jack understood this lesson and we felt the spirit confirm it to us. The spirit taught us both about the atonement. (Babyham not so much) but Jack and I had a tender moment.
I then said "I would like to reward you for your selflessness. What would you like?" I listed a number of things that he loves and that are usually offered only on special occasions. A trip to QT for a donut? We could make chocolate chip cookies together, we can go to Walmart and pick out a toy... you choose." His answer: "I feel really warm inside. Could we just snuggle on the couch together for a little bit?" Adorable.
I am so thankful to be a mother. I don't even know what to say. Words fail me. Its so hard but it is so worth it.