I’m making my husbands favorite dinner and it’s proving to be quite a task. Sometimes when I am cooking, the stars align and all the babies happen to be distracted by library books or tucking in their “sick” teddy bears over and over. But usually they all want to be in on the action, and that is the case today. Baby Girl is crawling in circles at my feet, Ms Drama is hanging on my leg and Ms Action is dragging a chair over to the counter to “help”.
After chopping the onion I retrieve the carrots from my daughters who have carefully bitten the ends off and are gnawing away. (Why is dinner always being made when everyone is hungry?) I slice up the carrots, all the while telling my 3 year old that NO she may NOT add chili powder to the pot. I know I should be involving her in something, but I am in a hurry, and right now she is just being irritating.
I start cutting up a bit of raw pork into bite sized pieces. Ms Drama is standing on the chair next to me now, so I am elbowing her hands away from the raw meat as I cut it, and answering Ms Action’s repetitive questions about the nature of the pork, no you shouldn’t touch it, yes its yucky until mama cooks it, no Ms Drama shouldn’t touch it either, yes Mama can touch it but I will wash my hands when I am done.
I’ve had the carrots cooking, and now I scrape them into a bowl and throw the meat into the pan to sear. I hear Ms Drama shriek from the counter and look over to see Ms Action attempting to drag the chair over to the stove. Unfortunately Ms Drama is still standing on it. I tell Ms Action not to move the chair and turn to wash the meat off my hands, disaster averted, or so I thought.
“I want to see!” Ms Action squeals, and I turn in time to see her drag the chair away, ignoring the screams as Ms Drama grabs onto the counter and hangs on for dear life. My 2 year old loses her grip and hits the floor and I’ve had it.
Without giving Ms Action the chance to apologize, without any explanation, I grab her hand and march her into the living room. I plant her roughly into the time out chair and stalk back into the kitchen. Dinner is starting to burn on the stove, and I try to salvage it while ignoring the wails from the living room.
“Serves her right, she should have listened to me. But I could have given her something to do, so that she wouldn’t have gotten into that situation in the first place. And I could have been more gentle in correction, I didn’t treat her much better than she was treating her sister.”
Dinner is pulling together alright after all, and the wails in the living room have quieted down. Wait, it sounds like Ms Drama is crying again? What is her sister doing now? I thought she was in time out.
I walk into the living room to see Ms Drama planted in the chair next to her sister, crying along with her. The kitchen mishap of just minutes before already forgotten. Now she hears Ms Actions cry’s and put herself in a pity time out to give her sister some company. I can’t help but laugh, and after hugs and forgiveness all around, we get ready to eat dinner.
While eating I keep thinking about how my toddlers demonstrate unconditional love. Even when life isn’t fair, even when their sister hurts them, they forget their own pain when they see the others distress. Instead of reacting to all the other things that person did to them, and thinking “It serves her right”, they would rather share their sister’s punishment, than go on without her. God grant me the compassion and the short memory to do the same.