My Plum chose that exact moment when I sat down for lunch to explode with anger at Mama’s house. I know this because she phoned me in support, finally over his antics and ready to call in the big guns, The Gran. I could hear his stomping and screaming through the phone. Her calm voice told me she was not further enraging him, he was ignited and burning all alone. Lunch abandoned on the table, I headed over and considered what to say to a 6 year old who was fighting against his world. Mama expected back up, as would he. Given that my balance is all but gone these days, I was pretty sure I was risking getting burnt myself. I called in my own big gun, the ultimate fight settler, I said a quick pray that I would be the water to refresh them all and help restore calm.
I found a home brimming with frustration and that lack of patience that comes when sleep is a concept you remember hearing about but no longer experience, like the heat of summer during frigid winter mornings. You know July will return but it does you little good in January when your toes are icy and your nose is running and your bones feel brittle. A home with a newborn doesn’t remember what deep sleep feels like, eyes are always just a bit glazed and dazed, conversations have a way of faltering as mamas and daddies lose track of words and sentences. Is it any wonder a 6 year old is able to push everyone up against the cold walls of reaction with just a tiny response, a slightly negative raise of his ever so cute eyebrow, a bit of sass the arches from his mouth to his mother’s ear and creates an electrical current that catches the house on fire? You may also see that I am a bit biased toward the child with his stomp and circumstance, I want to stomp a great deal lately as well. Yet I know mama’s heart and I know how she never sets that new baby down and I know she could just fall asleep standing up so she stands very little. I know daddy’s heart, I know that the name of ‘step” anything in the family really means “shit” and all your good works are forgotten by the tiniest misSTEP when you are reminded quite loudly of your outsiderness. Thus I walked into that home and fired my Gun of Gran wisdom at them all, which included a raised voice to get Plum’s attention, some negotiation, some explanation, a heavy dose of the Commandments, quite a bit of hugging, some wound management and practicing the fine art of atonement. An hour later I returned home to my cold lunch with my gun chambers emptied but my heart completely filled.
This little family modeled for me exactly what I need right now. I want to see more puppies and kittens but the world is hard, we are weary. We are stomping and shouting and just want each other to do the thing we want and forget that we ALL count and that history impacts our moment, our choices. As I sat on the step and asked Plum if maybe he thought God might have an idea about how he was supposed to behave at home, he said, yeah, honor God. I pushed more, how about that one rule about how we are supposed to treat our parents? Blank look. Like he had never heard this before. I know for a fact he has colored pages and listened to Sunday school teachers on this commandment. We have discussed it. In that moment though, it was gone. Whether by convenience or necessity, he just couldn’t find what God wanted him to do. (I know that feeling, sweetie, oh Lord I know that feeling.) Nothing to do but remind him of God’s rule about honoring our father and mother. Waiting, sure the light would shine in those beautiful eyes, but no, he doubled down, sunk his head in his hands and told me I had it all wrong. He provided the much needed levity for mama and daddy as he stuck to his guns and assured me he is to obey God but is perfectly just in making faces, scratching and fighting and throwing laundry at his parents. Clearly he needed a nap, I promised we would check with Miss Emily and Miss Suzanne to see if Gran was making stuff up, as we retrieved his special blanket and he climbed on my lap for some rocking and snuggling.
Still, I couldn’t help thinking about my own times of defiance. How often do I stick to the absolute wrong thing and ignore the teaching because I just DO NOT want to acknowledge my error, I DO NOT WANT to do the hard stuff, I DO NOT want to atone? I have colored those Sunday school pages, I know those Commandments, contrary to what my Plum thinks. I know the right thing to do. When God sits me on the steps and asks me if I remember His rules, I know I often dodge the question. I know I put my head in my hands and challenge Him that what He is wanting from me is just entirely too much, I may even shout that those rules are too hard to follow and I like my own list better. I prefer during those difficult times to treat God’s big 10 like value meals on the screen at the drive-up:”I’ll take a number 2, sure you can biggie size that. Oh no, that’s all for me today, thanks.” At those times, I know God sees how tired I am, how far away warmth feels to my cold scared soul, and he sends in the big guns of kittens and puppies and mamas and daddies and a Plum to show me the way. I pray we all find our sources of hope and laughter during the days ahead, when our souls are being expanded to accommodate the hurting and the scared and the “Steps” around us. That expansion is excruciating, I pray we remember to warm each other whenever possible, to grab our special blankets and rock in the arms of our God. I pray we remember that the rest of our family, the others out there, may have been fighting much longer than us, we may be asked to join in order to make the blast from the big gun felt. They need our voices to rise up to ensure we are all heard, all of God’s children. We need to rely on each other when we are too tired to stand. I pray we just keep holding each other up and when we can’t remember all those Commandments, let’s follow that one bit that Jesus told us and I told Plum on the stairs:
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:34-35 The Message (MSG)
I’m gonna check with Miss Emily and Miss Suzanne to be sure, but I think it boils down to we are supposed to be kind to each other. I’ll keep you posted.