Talk about melting a mother’s heart…
Little Man got to pick out a new toy at Target yesterday, as we were exchanging a duplicate birthday gift. His first stop was the One Spot: the Avengers cups and plates had caught his eye. As he reached for the cups, he stopped and said, “But what about Phoebe?” I explained that this was his time to shop for himself- Big Sis was at school, and plus this was his gift money to spend on himself. He dropped his hands to his sides and said, “But Phoebe won’t get a new toy?” I told him that no, this time I wasn’t buying one for her. His brow furrowed, then relaxed, as he smiled and said, “I know! I will buy her a toy myself!” The Avenger cups were forgotten as Little Man proceeded to spend the next five minutes browsing the One Spot for a perfect gift for his sister.
Fast-forward to that evening, after the kids had been put to bed. Little Lady’s having a hard time getting to sleep: rolling around in bed, organizing stuffed animals, fidgeting, and so on. Finally, when it becomes obvious that something’s on her mind and she’s not going to sleep, we bring her out to the living room. Immediately she says, “I have to stay up late because I have to make a thank you for Joey for getting me my La La Loopsey coloring book, Mom!” And off she goes to the craft supplies…
She proceeds to spend her “late night awake time” coloring, cutting, pasting, and arranging a tablescape for Little Brother to wake up to in the morning. (This is a double-heart-melter in itself: on holidays, birthdays, or other special days at our house I do this for the children- I stay up late to make them individual placemats, set out special dishes, lay out treats or scenes, and make a special little presentation for them to find waiting for them at the breakfast table in the morning. To see Little Lady use this loving strategy on her own tells me that they do value this effort, that it has stuck in their minds as something special to do to show one another their love and appreciation.)
The ultimate sign of love and selflessness in this activity is her addition of rocks: you see, these rocks have been taken from her prized rock and mineral collection. She guards this collection unlike any other- and she has quite a few…souvenir spoon collection, clip-on earring collection, treasure collection, you get the idea. For her to allow her brother to touch her rocks and minerals would be a feat in and of itself: for her to arrange them just so and offer to share them- even the coveted “Band-aid rock”- is amazing to me. She explained the rest of this to me: she chose to include the big green bow because green is Brother’s favorite color. The red and blue paper cut out is a fancy cup with water in it for him to drink, since we shouldn’t leave real cups out at night for the cats to drink out of. The little green and brown paper cut out is a palm branch, to remind little brother of Jesus. The drawing on the left has Mommy and herself with a card for him, and a butterfly, because those are just always special. The placemat has bubble letters because they are the fancy way to write someone’s name, and the card has the message inside, “Thank you, Joey, I love you.”
I like to say that my kids love one another fiercely: I picture their relationship like that of a couple lion cubs. They play, cuddle, attack, play, cuddle, attack…they are the best of friends one minute, and bickering like a couple of old women the next. We hear plenty of the, “He’s looking at me,” and “She’s making the scary face at me,” and “But Mommy, he’s breathing funny and it bothers me…” I wonder if I’m speaking a different language, if I’m failing them completely when I try to help them problem solve and be kind, only to find them pummeling one another when I turn my back. I’m working on crafting these little humans to be kind-hearted and caring…it’s always a work in progress… but I keep this in my heart: I know that the first thing they look for in the morning is each other, and the last thing they do at night is find each other’s hugging arms.
To anyone else, this tablescape may look like just a couple hand-drawn papers and a pile of stones. But to this mother, it looks like love…an act of appreciation…a sharing of a selfless heart…and it encourages me to keep spending time modeling these caring behaviors for my kids, to see them leaking out of little hearts and hands when I least expect them.