My oldest child is sweet and helpful and creative. She’s a super organizer and planner. She can be really funny and loves to mother the two babies. But we often need to remind her to be grateful for what she has and not to complain.
This morning, I was handing out the special cinnamon rolls my husband bought as a treat. As I gave Lauren and Rachel their plates, Lauren started to fuss. “You gave her a bigger one than I got. And hers has more icing.” Her eyes filled with tears and her face filled with anger at what she perceived as unjustness.
As I walked back to the table, I gently asked, “Are you actually complaining that your sister’s cinnamon roll is one millimeter bigger than yours and has a dollop more icing? You could choose to be thankful Daddy bought these as a special treat, but instead you are choosing to complain. Is that right?” I hoped my questions would help her rethink her attitude.
She wasn’t quite ready to give up. Yes, she was upset because “it isn’t fair!”
Calmly, I responded. “No, what isn’t fair is that some children are actually starving today. They woke up hungry and will be hungry all day. They’ve never tasted a cinnamon roll in their whole life and probably never will. That’s what’s not fair.” I gave her a specific example of the children we know in the Philippines whose parents gave up their rice to feed the sick people and their families. Now, the families have to search for food in the jungle. They have run out of the food they enjoy and now they have to eat whatever they can find.
She nodded her head and ate her cinnamon roll. I felt frustrated that we had to have this lesson again. Would this child ever learn to be grateful? I wondered.
A few minutes later, I sat down with my cup of coffee and my favorite kind of donut, which my husband had bought as a special treat for me. A chocolate covered long john filled with white cream. I was looking forward to savoring it. I bit into it. Ewwww. It wasn’t filled with white cream; it was filled with that yellow Bavarian cream. Yuck. I don’t really care for that yellow cream. I looked again at the wrapper. It was clearly labeled “white cream.” I was disappointed.
“Oh man,” I grumbled, “this was labeled white cream but it’s not. It’s that yucky yellow cream.”
Then from my left, my little Rachel smiled slyly and said, “Momma, you know some children in the world have never tasted cream at all.”
I turned to see her wide grin and the twinkle in her eye. Touche’. She had me. I laughed. Everyone laughed.
“You’re right, Rachel.” I hugged her. “I shouldn’t complain.”
Hmmmm . . . I wonder if this child, Jennifer, will ever learn to be grateful! 🙂
So often, the very things I find myself
gently reminding fussing at my children about are the lessons I also most need to remember. They do tend to be a magnifying glass of my own behavior.
Do any of you notice this?