It was 3 pm, the hour of mercy, when the Little One requested me to read her a story. I knew the risk. I inevitably have to nap after reading in the late afternoon. This particular day I decided to sit in a chair to increase my odds of staying awake. Well, I got through half the book before I was nodding off. She noticed. She said it would be okay to finish at bedtime. I thanked her and told her I had to rest for a little bit. She cheerfully said okay and started heading downstairs when I yelled out after her “Remember, don’t play on the Kindle!” (She had played, watched and read on it her allotted time already earlier in the day.) She looked back at me and said “I won’t.”
It wasn’t as restful of a sleep as I hoped for. It was too quiet. How come the Little One wasn’t doing her usual singing or monologue while playing with dolls? Hmm? After 10 or so minutes I decided to head down to take a look, and found the Little One on the couch with…you guessed it…the Kindle! It was slammed shut at the first sight of me and she went running away. What could I do? I told her that since she did something I didn’t want her to do that she would now have to do something I wanted her to do – which was to help me empty the dishwasher and fold her laundry.
“No!” she said. Wow. That seemed bold. I didn’t take kindly to this response. With a huge pout on her face she began heading to her room to escape the atonement. I took the bait and got into the power-struggle. I threw out the worst threat –the COUNTDOWN. “If you don’t get to my side to help me with this dishwasher by the count of 10, then you will not be having dessert for the next 5 days!” (Yes, I really escalated that quickly.) She shouted “NO! Don’t count!” paralyzed on the stairs in disbelief that she would be forced to such a choice. She did not make it…she did not choose to help me. I started clearing the counters and cupboards of all accessible candy (Christmas had extremely multiplied the quantities of sweets in our house). The Little One escaped to her room in tears.
Calmed down, I said a prayer entrusting us both to Blessed Mother, then I went in for a visit. I asked the Little One, “Do you know why I was upset? Do you think it was because you used the Kindle?” She shook her head “no.” “Was I upset because you didn’t want to help me?” She shook her head “yes.” Then she rushed into my arms. I hugged the Little One tight. I know that hug was a twofold Christmas miracle – Blessed Mother using my arms to love a child She helped to be contrite.
1) love them, 2) teach them, and 3) forgive them.
I am so grateful for this experience with the Little One. There have been so many lessons for her: She can make bad choices (we are in day 2 and she’s had 4 melt downs for not being able to eat sweets); she wants to be the leader (a role her mom and dad were entrusted with, not her); she lacks trust in her mom (pride takes root so young); and she has a crucial need for hugs!
There are so many lessons for me: How often do I tell my LORD “I firmly intend with the help of your grace to sin no more,” and then leave the confessional to do just that – sin more?; I have a huge fear of losing control, which means I totally lack trust in God’s mercy; and, the most important lesson of all, I need to be in Blessed Mother’s arms constantly when I parent!
It was a good day to discover truth.
In an unusual way, the parable of the prodigal son depicts the depth of the twofold truth about God and man. This parable says that God loves you in and with the actual truth about you. He loves you as you are and not as you should be. He loves you with all of your muck, filth, grime, and even wretchedness. In turn, you have to abolish the pedestal of your pride in order to stand in the naked and acknowledged truth before Him – the truth that, in this state of being closed, you are incapable of loving Him, and the truth that you should constantly receive this freely-given love until a complete change is brought about in you. Thus you must stand in the truth – the naked truth. (S.C. Biela, The Two Pillars, [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006], 35.)