We've had some dissention in our household lately, all concerning toys. Who has them, who doesn't, who just took them from whom, etc. It never ceases to amaze me that children with so many things to play with can fight over the same things so continually! My children have both had their moments of selfish greediness, where each feels that she absolutely cannot survive if she doesn't have whichever toy is in question.
It often works like this: Clara Anne begins playing with something, or a set of somethings, and Chloe wants to get in on the action. Chloe edges her way in, then snatches something and runs away. If Clara Anne gets upset, Chloe seems to be perversely delighted and runs around gloating. If, on the other hand, Clara Anne says calmly, "Chloe, may I have that back please?", Chloe usually gives it willingly.
Lately the most disputed objects have been some small plastic cars that we found at a local market which were from the movie "Cars"--Lightning McQueen, Doc, Sheriff, Mater and Luigi. Clara Anne is very excited about these since she saw the movie for the first time a few weeks ago. Five is really too many cars for one child to hold, but they each sure do try! We have had to put the cars away on occasion because it seems that peace and harmony are difficult to achieve when the beloved cars are being played with.
Now, lest I paint the situation in a terribly grim light, I must say that the squabbling over toys is not constant, the girls do often play together happily. But, lately this bickering has been frequent enough to try my patience. This morning I attempted a quick shower and no sooner had I lathered up than I heard Clara Anne wailing, the "victim" of one of Chloe's snatch-and-run actions. I never showered so fast!
After these incidents, I keep trying to emphasize to Clara Anne that she is a big girl, that she can learn to share, and that she may not respond by hollering and jumping up and down when Chloe takes something she wants. So even if Chloe's actions are wrong, Clara Anne, being older and understanding more, needs to respond in a better way. But this is a challenge for a not-quite-three year old! I was starting to feel like my words were going in one ear and out the other.
Until tonight. Finally, after needing to intervene several times in a matter of minutes, correct behavior, administer punishment where needed, etc, I drew a deep breath and prayed for patience and wisdom, again! Clara Anne and I began to talk about what had been happening with her toys and Chloe, and I reiterated to her that each time she showed selfishness or responded by getting angry with Chloe, she would be punished, because that was disobedience.
Here's how it went from there:
Clara Anne: "Mommy, sometimes I disobey. But God loves me, right?"
Me: "Yes, Clara Anne, God loves you. But because He loves you, he gave you a mommy and daddy who have to obey Him and punish you when you disobey."
Clara Anne: "Sometimes you disobey, right Mommy? And Daddy disobeys sometimes too, right?"
Me: "You're right Clara Anne. That's why we all need Jesus. Only Jesus can help us to not disobey, He can give us a new heart so that we want to obey instead. Let's pray and ask Jesus right now to help us."
We ended the conversation by praying (Clara Anne too) and asking for the Lord's help to have new hearts that long to obey, and share, and be generous, and fight against the temptation to disobey. I am encouraged! My feelings earlier in the day were ones of frustration, irritation, and discouragement over this issue, so I am thankful that the Lord gave me wisdom in that moment to stay calm and use it as a learning point with Clara Anne. I am also reminded again how many times I fall short and perhaps the Lord grows weary of my same sins, over and over again. And yet He is gracious, and forgiving, and longs to make His glory more evident even in our sin-soaked lives. Praise Him for the truth of the gospel, which has the power even to impact my sweet Clara Anne! I pray that it will!
And now lights are out and there is only blessed silence coming from the girls' room. Whew! Today was a doozy, but tomorrow is another day. There's always fresh hope!