Monday, March 16, 2009

To Tell the Truth

A few mornings ago, I sat on the floor in the little girls' room, mental checklist in hand, making sure everyone was prepared for the day.

  • Teeth brushed?
  • Clean clothes?
  • Clean clothes that match?
(Brief interlude while I explain that just because clothes were clean yesterday does not mean they are still clean today.)
  • Clean underwear? (repeat same explanation above)
  • Hair brushed?
  • Bed made?
Naomi and Candace were finishing this morning routine, while I dressed Baby Girl. Candace quickly made her bed and presented herself for inspection. Satisfied, I sent her downstairs. Naomi was still looking in the mirror, trying on different headbands, petting the cat, "brushing" her hair when I called her to come in and finish making her bed.

Then, I turned my full attention to the task at hand of dressing Baby Girl, which is a little like trying to fill a straw with jello. I don't know why it surprised me after several minutes of intense concentration to look up and find that Naomi had disappeared without my knowledge.

And that the bed was still unmade.

As she made her way back upstairs (how had she gotten so far in such a short period of time?!) I asked her, "Was there something you were supposed to do here before going downstairs?"

Looking around the room, her eyes darted from the bed to me, "Ummm...I don't know."

Right. Knowing she knew full well, I said to her, "What about making your bed?"

Twisting her left foot around almost 360 degrees (is that a sign of lying that I don't know about?) she said, "Oh. Right. I just forgot." She then started on the long, slow journey the next five feet to her bed to finish the job. Two feet away from the bed, she turned back to me, "Mommy," she pursed up her lips and spoke in a low voice, "I did remember. I just didn't want to do it."

"I know." I replied quickly, with one hand on Baby Girl who was making a hasty retreat to the upstairs hallway and the flight of stairs outside the door, "Please go and make your bed now."

And she did.

I've told and re-told this story to the Captain (who is convinced that her strong-will is a good thing and that we simply need to harness her powers for good--not evil), to her grandparents and any one else willing to listen. And a funny thing happens each time I tell it. It becomes less a funny Naomi-anecdote and more an allegory about forgiveness.

This time, her strong will was used for something very good. It reminded me of the importance of God's mercy and forgiveness. When we find ourselves caught in a sticky mess of our own sin, it is never to late to stop, acknowledge what we've done and make a sincere apology with a contrite heart.

Our Father already knows our weaknesses. And He sits upstairs calling to us, just waiting to forgive.


Sarah (JOT) said...

I shall ponder this many days, my friend. Thank you.

Kelli said...

From the person who invented strong will,this is my one piece of humble advice. Strong will children want to be a part of making choices. When possible, give her the opportunity to choose between two different things. It will allow her to feel that her voice/opinion matters. Even reminding her that she can choose to make her bed or she can choose punishment (time out, spanking, etc...).
I think it is amazing that your daughter was willing to admit she just didn't want to do it. Honesty -what a blessing. A mother who is willing to hear her daughters honesty - another blessing.

Barb, sfo said...

You're definitely doing something right, if she knew she could come to you and admit that she really hadn't intended to make the bed. It's kind of like that parable about the 2 sons, one of whom said he would do what the father asked but did not--and the other who said he would not do what the father asked but then did. ("And which one did the will of the father?")

Cathy Santarsiero, "The Christmas Corgi" said...

Hi Jane! Popping in to wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day! Many blessings to you and all of your little ducklings. xo Cat ^..^