I know it's coming. It's the same request every morning.
What you need to know first is that my children eat an alarming amount of toast. The boy child is still small enough and non-verbal enough to make no special requests about the toast. This is why he is my favorite at breakfast-time.
The girl child is painfully verbal and quite particular. Even more irritating, I taught her that. I'm raising a mini-me and I have no one to blame but full-sized-me.
The issue at hand is that she "needs" the crust cut off of the half of a loaf of bread she's about to devour. My big beef with this request is that she still doesn't eat the edge of the (now crust-less) bread. She's an edge-ist. My husband and I are on the same parenting page...almost always. But, he cuts off the crust. He does it because he is a decent person. I don't, because I am not. Thus, the great crust war rages on.
A friend loaned me a book, The Ministry of Motherhood, and the first section caused me to reconsider the crust stand-off. The book deals with five gifts we can give our children. The first gift was grace. She points out that Jesus gave his time and his service to the people he was teaching. This quote hit me,
"If I want them to be open to my messages, I need to be willing to serve them- to voluntarily give up my rights and my time to meet their felt needs just as Jesus was willing to give for his disciples."
So in my head I whine, "But SaIly (the author and I are on a first name basis in my imagination) I serve my kids all blasted DAY! Their clothes are clean, their bellies are full (of toast) and all of their needs are met. For some reason though, cutting the crust off toast just seems like too much to ask."
When I look at the life of Jesus, however, I don't see that attitude. He served his disciples. Lamentations 3 says God's mercies are new every morning. Frankly, my mercies are left over from yesterday. And they weren't that fresh even then.
I fear if I do too much for my kids they will end up lazy and spoiled with no skills for the real world. That they will start to run the show and I will be scrambling to try to please them or get them to listen.
Then I realize, THAT is just not how I'm wired. My kids DO respect me. They are truly fantastic mini-humans and they are a pleasure to be around. Extra kindnesses from their mommy are not going to ruin them.
Annnnd, it's not going to kill me to cut off some crust. But...if you find me dead by the toaster, you'll know I was wrong about this whole thing.
Some practical ideas that help me:
- Call them "friend" when you're frustrated or correcting. I find this really helpful because I tend to be much sweeter to my friends than I am to my children when they are in the throws of an impressive public tantrum. I'm not trying to be BFF's with my kids but if you think about it, Jesus kindly called us friends (John 15:15) so it's not a completely crazy idea.
- Surprise them with a treat they love at a time they don't expect. When I think to bring my daughter watermelon gum when I pick her up from school it's a really big deal to her.
- This milestone blessing bowl (we call it the bowl of rocks) I got gives them a chance to chat about their day. We use it arounf the dinner table and almost a year after we got it, it's still requested nightly. You can read my post about it here.
What extra graces could you offer your little ones today that would make your message better heard?