Every once in a while, my children surprise me. I mean REALLY surprise me. Most days create some combination of enjoyment and borderline insanity with a threat of murder. Most days, someone is yelling, someone is getting his feelings hurt, someone is seriously annoying someone else. On a good day, we tolerate each other. Other days, we have moments of laughter and family fun, and we generally enjoy each other – in between the moments of being annoyed. But most days, at any given moment, someone is peeved.
And that’s okay. Not ideal, but okay. I think it’s pretty normal. Especially during the summer with all the Unavoidable Togetherness.
So when my two sons, who have been known to walk into a room and clobber each other for no apparent reason, suddenly became the best of friends and didn’t speak a cross word for four days, it kinda freaked me out.
It really, really freaked me out.
What happened to irrational irritability? Where is unjustified annoyance? Why is everyone so happy? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
One choice. That’s what it came down to. Nathan went into Griffin’s room and asked him to play with him, fully expecting Griffin to yell at him to get out and quit touching his stuff and leave him alone. Because most days, that’s what would happen. Instead, Griffin quietly considered. He didn’t jump on his first response. He waited. Then he replied.
“Sure. What do you want to do?”
The clouds part. Angels sing. The trees clap their hands. A rainbow appears across the sky. Miracles never cease.
The two brothers – my boys – had a wonderful time together. I think it surprised even them. They played together all afternoon – building forts, throwing pillows at each other, shooting foam darts at each other, turning off all the lights and reading books by flashlight. Griffin was The Hero, and Nathan was his loyal subject. Griffin led, Nathan followed. And they loved it. “It’s so much more fun when we ah fwends!” Nathan declared.
Later in the afternoon, they came up with a plan for Nathan’s room to become “the kids’ guest room,” and Nathan would move into Griffin’s room.
I’m telling ya. The Rapture approacheth.
Until we moved into The House, the boys had shared a room since Nathan starting climbing out of his crib and onto the top of the dresser. Good-bye, crib. Hello, twin bed. That was four years ago. Four very long years for Type-A Griffin and Absent-Minded Professor Nathan. They were both VERY excited about having their own rooms.
(Shortly after moving, I asked Griffin what he liked best about the new house. He answered, “My room doesn’t smell like pee.” Fair enough.)
So their desire to share a room again was…weird. I persuaded them to keep their own rooms and enjoy the occasional “sleepover,” which they did that night and the next. Which, as they reported each morning, was “AWESOME!”
And so it went. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
And then there was Monday.
Monday, according to The Plan, is library day. List of due books printed, books located, books returned, new books on new topics checked out. It also happened to be the day that Meghan left for church camp, so we were going to drop her off then head to the library. Except that library books had sprouted legs and ran off and hid themselves – because of course it could not be my children’s fault that the books were missing.
(I think we need to just quit going to the library. Nothing but trouble.)
So library books are missing, children – once again – walking around like lost puppy dogs, mama yelling, kids fighting, mama yelling some more, daughter freaking out because IT’S TIME TO LEAVE AND I’M GOING TO MISS THE BUS TO CAMP! The boys, who for the last four days had been best friends, returned to the annoying and irritating and yelling and clobbering.
Not a good start to the week. Here we go again, I thought. It was too good to last, too good to be true.
We renewed the temporarily misplaced books, got Meghan to the bus, and went to Target. It didn’t take long for the obligatory “can I get this? PLEEESE?”
That’s when I pulled a Kevin Leman. “I didn’t really like the way you were treating each other this morning. No.”
When Mama ain’t happy, you’d better straighten up and fly right, or it’s gonna get ugly.
It didn’t take them long to figure that out.
By the time we got to the library, Nathan was climbing to the back of the van to hug his brother (who pushed him off…but at least he was nice about it). Since then, they’ve had moments where they annoy each other, but they’re quicker to forgive and move on. They still tattle on each other and complain about the injustice of supposed favoritism or undue privilege – but after a quick reminder about how much better life is when they play nice, they get back on course.
Parenthood has taught me so much about life and the character of God. Of course life is sweeter when we all play nice. Of course God is happier when His children love each other. Of course we need to choose to forgive and love and move on. How easily I forget. We all get annoyed. We all get frustrated. We all want to clobber someone. We need to get over it.
Miracles never cease.