“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” –Proverbs 14:1
My kitchen countertop has been converted into a Rescue Bot hospital. Jamie is two-for-two. Two broken Bots in two days. His attitude is, “Throw it away and get me a new one”. I’ve spent more time than I’ve wanted to trying to explain that we can’t just run out and buy new toys every time one breaks. One of the Bots is still in pretty good shape; just a broken spring in one foot. But Jamie has no tolerance for weak feet or broken things. He’s been loudly arguing his case over the gimp-footed Bot now for two days. Then the whole thing escalated yesterday when he tore off Optimus Prime’s arm. He came running and crying and demanding a new Prime on.the.double. As I examined it, I realized this one needs more than TLC. It needs the “KRAGLE” – this is Lego speak for “Krazy Glue” for all the moms who know what I am talking about when I say, “Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome when you’re living a dream”. Except this whole solution is not awesome and Jamie’s not much of a team player. Part of our dilemma is if we “KRAGLE” Optimus he will lose mobility of his arm and no longer transform. This is a problem because Optimus is a transformer and he won’t be able to convert into a semi-truck anymore. This does not please Jamie. Welcome to my nightmare.
I am directing a play this spring at co-op on Colonial America. Chloe plays Felicity, the main character. In one scene, she is having a discussion with her Father about the conflict between the colonists over the tax on tea. Felicity is torn because her family has decided not to drink or sell tea, but tea is an important part of her schooling. She wants to be loyal to her family, but not look bad or lose friends at school. As her father is discussing this with Felicity, he is looking at the sampler she is stitching at school. Felicity is upset and cries out, “Throw that sampler away! It is full of mistakes.” Father takes it in his hands and says, “There is a great deal of good about this sampler. It would be a shame to throw it away because of a few mistakes….the easiest thing to do is to throw it away. It is harder to untangle the knots – that takes courage”.
There is an important life lesson in that scene. A mother is basically a knot-untangler; a fixer of broken things. We face situations like this every day and this “throw away mentality” in our kids…and ourselves. My friend Carol calls this the “Burger King Philosophy – You can have it your way”. Except that’s not the goal in parenting unless we want to be faced with screaming, demanding children at every turn of our day. We must teach them patience and resourcefulness; how to perseverance in problem solving and come up with creative solutions. And our kids need to know how to work through disappointment and loss because it is a reality of life. The fast food, express shipping lifestyle is a lie that always lets us down eventually. Some things can’t be replaced. Walking through the losses with our children teaches them way more than the shiny new replacement ever could. And we might not go broke in the process either. But this requires that we come to terms with our own brokenness and all of our efforts to side-step it. I am as guilty as anyone on this. I admit my heart wants to run out and get the new Optimus Prime…..today! Partly because I want to keep my adorable-but-very-particular-hamburger-eater happy. But, if I am honest, the other part is that I don’t want to deal with the hassle of working with the broken toy either. It is easier to buy a new one. And a lot quieter around here….Jamie is relentless.
As I lay in bed contemplating this very post this morning, my Burger King boy was snuggled next to me. He actually went back to sleep this morning. A rare blessing that gave me enough time to hear my thoughts enough to write them down. Jamie woke up and started this daily routine of endless and random questioning. I always tell him, “Shhh…10 minutes more before we can get up”. And his famous response is always, “Just one more question”.
Me: Alright, Jamie…lay it on me. What’s your question?
Jamie: Mommy, who builded our house?
Me: Oh, just some men – some builders.
Jamie: Like construction guys?
Me: Yeah, quiet now..10 more minutes.
As I laid there in bed, a loud irony arose in my mind from his quiet question. I realized I am the one who is really building this house; brick by brick, one broken Rescue Bot at a time. And then I prayed for the courage to untangle the knots as they come…in about 10 more minutes. Awesome.