Have you ever had one of those moments when you look at your kids with such pride that you can barely hold back the tears? Okay...I know, I know that sounds very dramatic. I think since becoming a mom the tears come a lot more easily than they used to (although I've always been a pretty emotional person). My dad used to tell me that I wore my feelings on my sleeves. Sometimes when I'm at a program at school I even get a little knot in my throat because I think that one day my kids will be doing that, and already I feel so proud. That is extreme...maybe I should consider some sort of emotion-supressing medication. Anyway...
Today the kids were picking up their toys before lunch. We have a rule this summer that all toys have to be picked up before lunch is served. Layton and Ainslee are both big enough to pick up their toys without help, and mean ol' me also makes them pick up most of Ava's toys too. She puts a few up, but she's not quite at the point where she can be responsible for all of her toys. There was only one toy left: the US puzzle that Ainslee had gotten down. Now usually I do not have the rule that you put up what you get out because sometimes it's just impractical. But today it just happened that I assigned Ainslee the task of putting up that puzzle. She, in all her 2 year old glory and stubborness, decided she would not. Fine. She's not invited to the table. We sit down to eat while she sits on the floor, and you would have thought she hadn't eaten in DAYS! She screamed and cried and kicked and wailed, and at one point she even threw the puzzle and its pieces. She was screaming, "I WANT TO EAT!!!!" I, surprisingly calm (surprisingly because you know how toddler tantrums can get your blood pumping!), told her that I wanted her to eat too but that she had to pick up that puzzle first.
Layton has a tender heart. He watched her, with his plate of food in front of him and tears starting to come to his eyes. Then he looked at me and said, "Mama, can I put the puzzle up for her?" I looked at Trey, and we were both thinking the same thing: How can we not let him? Sure, that won't help Ainslee learn that she has to put her toys up, but isn't kindess such a more important lesson? He got down and told her that she could go eat because he would put the puzzle up. She told him thank you and got in her seat and started to eat (actually she started to complain about the food that was on her plate, but I don't want to mention that because it just doesn't fit well with the story...maybe it does because sometimes aren't we ungrateful even though someone's doing something nice for us?).
I thought about what he was doing and the lesson that I hope he and Ainslee learned from it. It was such a simple act but still so meaningful to me. I hope they learned that sometimes you give, not because someone deserves to receive and not because we expect something in return and not because they're going to say thank you over and over and be so appreciative. You just give. You help even though it means that your food won't be as warm. You just do it.
I think Trey and I took something away too. I couldn't help but think about all that God has done for me, certainly not because I deserve any of it! He gives and blesses and there's not a thing in the world that we can do to repay him; it's all already His. It also made me think about how I can treat other people. I can give and show kindness, even when someone is kicking and screaming or complaining and being ungrateful. I can still be kind because what better way is there to show God's love?