A blur of green and a crash, followed by a sad-faced eight-year-old coming into the kitchen holding one of my Willow Tree figures… It is the Brothers figure I purchased when my second boy was born, with visions of my sons becoming great friends.
Only now it is missing a head.
It is one of those mothering moments when I can make two choices- a deep breath followed by a quick Hail Mary or a loud voice followed by a small explosion heard for miles.
I can tell you honestly I would have normally reacted with the latter, but for some reason this time was different. This time, something in his face stopped me. This eight-year-old and I have been having some long talks about attitude lately. About just why we need to submit to the authority of those in certain positions (*ahem* parents who have seemingly told him 8,000 times that the ball is for the baby not the big kids).
I can tell my son felt truly sorry about breaking the figure. It is one of the few items we salvaged after a massive house fire in March of 2010 where we lost over 95% of our earthly belongings. If you get close to it, you can still smell the smoke. I carefully moved it across the country a year ago when we traveled from Minnesota to Utah. My son knows that. He knows that figure is important to me.
What he doesn’t know is that he didn’t hurt me most when he broke the piece. My deepest hurt came from again having to repeat myself. Explain that Mommy and Daddy give him rules and expect that he follow them even when we don’t flesh out the reasons. Again discuss the importance of submitting to authority.
Just like my eight year old, as adults we sometimes decide that we are smarter and can do something better than those in authority over us. Wouldn’t Mass be nicer if the music was this way instead? Why don’t we just let everyone receive communion? Well, she should be allowed a divorce because he turned out to be a jerk! That couple who can’t have a child should be allowed fertility treatments. Maybe “our” human way would be simpler or more “fair”, but how would we learn and practice our own obedience if we just did everything the way that seemed easier or more fun? Where is the personal growth in following our own whim and fancy? Sometimes I wonder how many hand crafted pieces of Heavenly Father’s work I have damaged by searching for easy or fair.
Eventually, a repaired figure returned to the mantel over our fireplace. It is my hope that my son will see it there and be reminded, at least, that he is not permitted to throw balls inside the house. At most, he will be reminded that rules and procedures for life in our family are there to protect all of us…to make our home a place where all can live and work in harmony and safety.