I am standing in the entryway hanging up a coat that is covered in dog hair. We started installing the wireless dog fencing system this afternoon, and poor little Lucky is now in her happy place. Her kennel. I must say, I have enjoyed her more since she started training than I ever did before. The wireless shock collar seems to have quite literally done exactly what we expected and then some…the effect of which has made her even more dim-witted than she normally is. After her training session, she appears calm and quiet, and I am presently reconsidering all the ill-will and negative thoughts I have sent her way up until this afternoon. Not the least of which, many of those thoughts having been channeled the other day when Husband chased her a half an hour before work on the road in front of our house. She stopped traffic going in both directions while Hubby ran wildly around cars passing slowly in front of our home. I was in the house pretending like I didn’t know what was going on.
Perhaps shock treatment will scare the stupid out of her. One can only hope.
I say all that to say this. It has been a long day, and I want nothing more right now than to collapse in a chair, pull a pillow over my face and perhaps scream a little or maybe just pass out. Whichever comes first. As it is 6:00 p.m., I am sensing the pressing need to unwind and then start gearing up for another work week. Just as I turn to head through the door to the kitchen, my son comes in the side door behind me.
“Can we make cookies?” he asks.
I pause. I am all ready to start in on a litany of reasons why I cannot possibly do so tonight. One good reason being my kitchen is spotless, and I really don’t feel like creating a kitchen disaster zone at this time of the night.
“Not tonight,” I say brusquely. And then, I pivot so I can look at him while I take a deep breath and ready myself to give a two-minute spiel on Why One Does Not Allow Children In The Kitchen After Supper To Cook. That is, until I see his face. And in particular, I see that sad look in his eyes that is piercing my heart with emotional daggers. It breaks me every time.
“Okay,” I say hesitantly. I am still not quite committed to the idea of flour tossed all over my spotless kitchen and smeared chocolate chips on my white appliances.
“You’re the best, Mom,” he says quickly.
I concede to him the victory, and we dig out the recipe scratched out on a piece of loose leaf paper written in my son’s hand.
The recipe was invented the other day when Son spent some time in the kitchen with his five male cousins. His dear Aunt allowed the boys to concoct and cook a recipe of their own selection from which something edible would hopefully arise. I must remember to thank her for this later. She has one million mommy-brownie points now in my book. They devised a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. With extras. It calls for 1 ½ teaspoons of flour and a cup of marshmallows. The recipe ingredients are also part of the reason why I am not really excited for this little baking adventure to begin. You get the picture.
However, because I have already played the role of villaness several times today, I am feeling quite generous. I dig out everything on his list. In lieu of chocolate syrup, of which he needs a few tablespoons, I create a blend of Quik chocolate milk powder and hot water, which I proceed to stir up chemist style in a little ceramic dish.
I feel like the bomb.
We work together. Side by side, we mix, stir and eventually bake. I try to avert my eyes when he forgoes using a spoon to lift the batter onto the cookie sheet and instead opts to use his fist. All I can think of are dirty fingernails and extremities being licked. Nevertheless. We manage to get most of the batter onto a cookie sheet and into the oven.
And when they are all baked and ready to serve, what a marvelous delight to share a cookie with a boy who had the ingenuity to create, prepare and cook a special treat that he could share with his family.
When Son initially thanked me for baking with him, he told me that I was very kind. In other words, I was being “nice”. Normally, I accept these compliments with a rueful smile and a bit of gratitude. But tonight, I felt a little put off by the comment.
Now, I realize that part of being a mom is doing things with your children. It’s expected. But, I also realize that we moms don’t always want to do everything kids suggest to us that might pop into their adorable little heads. That would not only be exhausting but also feasibly unrealistic. However, when we do choose to give a little, we are showing our kids that they matter to us. And that the world is about making a difference. Sometimes that difference is sacrificing what we want in the interest of making others happy. Sometimes it is not. But let’s be serious. Sacrificial love is what most moms do best. We’re hardwired for that kind of thing.
However, I was a little disconcerted when my son told me tonight that I was “kind” for having chosen to do what he wanted. That is, mess up my clean kitchen, er…I mean bake up a couple batches of made-from-scratch cookies. For how it made me feel was this: I am kind, or “nice” in my child’s eyes when I choose to do what he wants. But if I had chosen NOT to bake with him, I would not be kind. In other words, the evidence of kindness is dependent on how well I please someone else, in this case, my son.
I replied in this manner. I told him that I wished he would see me as being kind, whether I chose to do exactly what he wished, or whether I did not. In either scenario, I would still be kind. For kindness is an overriding quality that does not always have to please to be made manifest. It sometimes chooses rather to support and discipline. At other times it seeks to correct. And other times still it even chastens. Kindness is not weakness that gives in. It is strength that can withhold, suppress and even deny.
However, because I love my child, I can act in grace. Grace can be confused with “being nice” because it has many of the same qualities. Grace is undeserved favor or kindness. Kind of like my Father generously gives me from a heart of love. And grace is something that I try to model for my own dear children as often as I can.
Because at the end of the day, my children will remember grace-filled acts of kindness more than they will remember a denied request. Those denials happen from time to time. We moms are only human. And so are kids. But grace and love, coupled with gentle discipline and instruction, can be our overriding response in how we deal with our children’s requests.
And when it is, we all win.
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