In my day-to-day events with my children, there are times I do happen to enter their rooms (or the jungle as I refer to them). One such day not too long ago, they were instructed to clean their rooms. Not to their standards, not to Daddy’s standards, but to my standards. They knew what that meant. They were given a certain amount of time to accomplish their task. Plenty of time as far as I was concerned. But the day progressed and time slipped away. Not only did they not accomplish their tasks in the time allotted, they didn’t accomplish them at all in their 12 or so hours of being awake. At bedtime, that was it — I had enough. Everything was going in the trash. Perhaps then they would learn the value of their belongings and take better care of their possessions. Amidst screaming and crying, I removed every toy that was not in it’s proper place and put it in a trash bag.
As my children lay crying themselves to sleep, a feeling of guilt washed over me. Why did I feel guilty? They were given plenty of opportunity to clean their rooms. Actually I think I had given them several days warning about cleaning their rooms. This would be a lesson learned. My youngest had given in to sleep. My 10-year-old, however, was still awake. Still, I felt guilty, so I decided to soften the blow. I called Virginia downstairs. I told her that she could choose three things, and ONLY three things out of the mound of toys to keep. I told her to be careful to choose wisely, because that was all she could keep. She only gave it a moments thought. I thought for sure she would grab her Nintendo DS. Nope. I thought she may grab her Build-a-Bear dog. Nope. Surely she would grab the carrying case full of Puppy in My Pocket toys. Nope. Instead she did the unthinkable. She picked up a ceramic cat that her sister painted. I asked her why. She said because Klara made it. Then she picked up her sister’s wallet. Again I asked why. She indicated because she knew Klara would want to keep it. And last she picked up her own wallet. I didn’t ask why. Not because it was an obvious choice, but because I was speechless at what I just saw my remarkable child do. My heart melted. Somewhere in my struggles in trying to teach my children to care for others and treat people as they wanted to be treated, something must have taken root. Instead of choosing toys that meant a lot to her, she put her sister before herself, and was completely unselfish in her choices (well, not including her own wallet…which by the way was empty anyway except for her little identification card). How could I punish this lovely, beautiful, thoughtful child. Her unselfishness may have been fleeting in that moment, only to return the next day, but at that moment it was all that mattered.
I told Virginia to take all the toys back upstairs and to put them away quickly and quietly without waking her sister. I would make sure her sister knew why she had gotten her toys back. I thank God for these beautiful moments in life, especially when they happen in my family.