Monday, September 25, 2006

Despite My Best Pom-Pom Efforts...

...there was an incident. Last night, just before dinner, the boys broke glass. It was the beautiful "Endangered Species" puzzle the two oldest boys and I had made, working together each evening, over the course of a few weeks. I had framed it and put it above Simeon's bed.

Oh, they didn't mean to do it. They had been playing a game, and the game turned into a race, and the race ended on Simeon's bed, and, naturally, they had to "tag" the framed puzzle to signify the end of the race.

They told on themselves right away, and they were so, very sorry. There were many heartfelt tears and promises to never, ever do anything like it again. For running in the house, standing on beds, and slapping wall decorations, they lost three pom-poms each.

All through dinner, I battled desperate thoughts and feelings. Broken glass is a very upsetting thing. First, there is the loss of the thing that is sadly broken, and then there are the glass shards that threaten future harm. Broken glass must be dealt with immediately, the children must keep clear while you pick it up, and then it must be disposed of safely. No matter how often it happens, one just does not get used to it. (How I wish I did not know that.)

After dinner, and after I cleaned the kitchen, I thought it would do me some good to go for a run. I did not notice until I had got back that though I had run my usual route, I had done it in nearly half my usual time. I went upstairs and took a long, cool shower. There, I wondered to myself if the pom-pom project was really worth all the effort. Are the boys gaining anything from it at all? Are these behaviors simply beyond their control? Was this whole thing doomed from the start? Just what was I expecting to play out: Curious George (times five) meets Supernanny?

After my shower, I went downstairs to do my part in the evening read aloud. I sat on the couch and Jacob brought me his choice. I hadn't read "The Poky Little Puppy" in some time.

The story opens, "Five little puppies dug a hole under the fence and went for a walk in the wide, wide world." (Funny, I hadn't remembered that there were five little puppies.)

When the puppies smelled rice pudding they went running home, but their mother was greatly displeased. "So, you're the little puppies who dig holes under fences!" she said. "No rice pudding tonight!" And she made them go straight to bed. (Good for her)

The next day there was a sign in front of the fence that read "Don't ever dig holes under this fence." But the puppies did anyway and when they ran home for dessert, their mother scolded them again and put them all in bed. (They dug right out from under the sign?)

The next day, the sign in front of the fence read, "Don't EVER EVER dig holes under this fence." But (you guessed it) the puppies did anyway and when they returned home their mother scolded them a third time and sent them to bed with no dessert. (Mama Puppy, I feel your pain)

But then, when they thought their mother was asleep, they ran out and filled the hole under the fence, and when they turned around, there was their mother watching them. "What good little puppies!" she said. "Come home and have some strawberry shortcake."

It may seem strange to you, dear reader, but this simple little story brought me so much peace. I was doing the right thing after all. My efforts were not without merit. The pom-pom project was not in vain. I was correcting my children when they needed correction and affirming them whenever they did well. This is my job. This is love.

God has written the law on our hearts and etched it in stone tablets. He proclaimed it through the mouths of the prophets, and fulfilled it in the person of his Only Begotten Son. And though we break this law intentionally and unintentionally seventy times seven times a day, He does not cease to guide us, but puts up "signs" at every turn and in every possible way. And when we turn from doing wrong, He sees us coming from far off and He runs out to greet us. This is perfect love.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have five little puppies to put in bed.


helene said...

That last paragraph was SUPER.

Suzanne Temple said...

Thanks, Helene! You know, I had no comments on that one ALL DAY and so I was beginning to think I was too preachy.

Kristen said...

Broken ANYTHING is terrible. My daughters have recently broken my pretty, feminine high-heeled shoes while wearing them around the house and cut holes in their clothing with kid scissors. What a wonderful outlook you have on these trifles.

And Helene is right, the last paragraph is SUPER! Just what we mothers need to persevere.