“Watch this, Mom!” my daughter said this morning at breakfast. Before I could respond, I watched her toss her bowl of dry Cheerios up in the air, and try to catch them in the bowl. “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” I screamed a deep, bellowing scream–as the Cheerios cascaded through the air and scattered all across the kitchen floor. “Ughh!!!” I screamed again. “Why did you do that!?”
“Don’t you know you aren’t supposed to throw your food on the floor??!!”
“Pick these up right now!!” I glared.
The look on my 3-year-old’s face showed me how terrifying I must have looked in that moment. For one, when I screamed, “NOOOOOO!!” it was the same pitch and intensity that Frodo screams in the Lord of the Rings when Gandalf falls off the cliff.
Pretty good for 8:10 a.m.
We were off to a great start. I’d like to add that I read this post last night about how God desires mothers to be gentle creatures. It was a great idea–gentleness. And it was a great post–I shared it with a bunch of friends before bed.
Too bad in real life (and especially before I’ve had my coffee), I’m not a gentle creature, but more like a creature from Middle Earth.
Realizing this, I knelt down…, “Selah,” I said, “Was that just an accident?” She nodded her head, looking up at me with her big blue eyes. “Were you trying to catch the Cheerios in your bowl?” She nodded again, and fell into my arms for an embrace.
“I’m sorry, honey,” I said, “Everyone makes mistakes. Even Mom.”
“It’s okay, let’s clean them up together,” I said.
We picked up as many as we could and put them in the trash. Then Selah said, looking dissapointed, “But I really wanted some Cheerios, Mom.”
I told her the ones on the floor were dirty–but I could get her a new bowl. “Here, I’m going to put you in the high-chair this time so you don’t spill. And let Mommy get them for you.”
I put her in her high-chair (which we don’t use much any more–except when I feel like she is acting sort of baby-ish.) I poured her another hefty helping of Cheerios into her little plastic Ikea bowl and said, “Be careful this time.” And…I kid you not…as I was about to hand her the bowl–I bumped my elbow on a kitchen chair–and the bowl and all the Cheerios went flying through the air. And then scattered all across the kitchen floor.
My jaw dropped, Selah’s jaw dropped–and then our eyes met.
And we burst out laughing.
We laughed hysterically–as we looked around at the plague of Cheerios that covered our kitchen floor.
And I swallowed hard. I was such a hypocite. And I knew it.
And she knew it. But she didn’t look at me like that. She just kept smiling.
Instead of screaming at me, or giving me the “ugly sigh.” (Like I would do to her.)
She giggled. And I giggled. And we couldn’t stop.
“I have accidents, too,” I said.
I got my broom, and said, “Do you want to help me?”
“Yes!” she cheered. I pulled her out of her high-chair and she grabbed her little broom and swept with a smile, and crushed some under her bare toes–but I couldn’t help but smile back.
I guess sometimes grace comes from the eyes of a child. And grace isn’t really as complicated as we make it. It’s simply laughing, instead of sighing. It’s biting your tongue, instead of screaming. It’s letting accidents be accidents. And it’s pausing to realize what your reaction (a.k.a. “wrath”) means to the heart of a child.
I think laughter is evidence of a gracious person. If you want to know if you are gracious–how much do you laugh?
She’s actually better at it than I am.
But I’m learning.
And to ask my 3-year-old for forgiveness when I lose it.
And to feel the power of recieving it from her.
And God is so faithful to expose my Orc-like heart–especially as a writer who wants to hide behind my words. He shows me my actions. Even the morning after I share great blog posts about gentleness with a bunch of my friends.
He humbles me. Whether it’s by me bumping my elbow, and spilling the Cheerios, or whether He sent an angel to smack them out of my hands (I really think it might be the second one–because they went flying.) But either way: He humbles me.
Right in front of my daughter.
And He reminds me I need Him even more than I thought I did. I need His love, and grace—and she needs it. She needs to see it on my face, and in my eyes. She needs to hear it in my laugh.
And He reminds me, in the voice of a little girl, that grace laughs.
And picks up Cheerios. One at a time.