Beccalynn married a Counting Mutant. Together they created a Renaissance family. Wild Oat found them in his 20s and now is married with three kids. Ase and Zany, former dancers who now bravely face life as emerging adults. Girly dances, collects dead things and faces her teen years with superpower logic. Creatively they navigate life through Jesus’ gift, asking uncomfortable questions to discover the deep love that awaits us all.
They found my last nerve. After riding it for a week, I was
sure the neighbors were going to call the authorities on me. It was a field
trip that saved their lives.
Half way through the drive to LA, I tuned into a game they
were playing. One of their friends started it. If they waved at a car and the
people inside waved back, the car was sweet. If the people in the car did not
wave back, it was sour.
As we toured the Queen Mary, I watched those delightful
children of mine explore with their friends. I took a step back to observe.
They were really good kids: Ase was considerate of others. Zany on the
constant look out to make someone laugh. Girly was at my side quietly
observing everything. Each had their strengths and somehow I had lost sight of
it while doing my job.
The tide needed to change. I mused on the drive home… sweet
Next day found me digging through the recycling for glass
jars. Finally, under the bathroom sink, in a dark corner, the perfect receptacles
were found. The local craft supply provided white and red pebbles. I mixed them
together in a large glass dish with a glass jar on each side. A family meeting
was called and the rules were explained:
Sweet and Sour
Each kindness, word or obedient action receives a red pebble
in the jar.
Each unkindness, word or disobedient action receives a white
pebble in the other jar.
At the end of the day, the pebbles are counted:
IF there are more red than white, a sweet treat is the
reward. A small bucket was filled with bits of paper with fun choices: dessert,
extra TV time, an extra story, a game…
IF there were more white than red: NOTHING. Life went on as
Over the next few weeks, the mood of our family changed. I
was forced to notice when they did ANYTHING right. The kids spoke kindly to each
other. They worked together more and argued less. Our whole focus shifted to
notice the good in each other instead of the negative. Ase no longer was the
control freak. Zany wasn’t the science experiment gone wrong and Girly was not
the informant. Harmony was achieved through listening and solving problems
instead of interrogation and turf wars.
After a few weeks, the count was shifted to Fridays. The
treats became a little sweeter: a movie, playing at the park, a friend over…
The game didn’t last much longer. Our behavior was changed
and the pebbles lost their luster. We all liked each other and it became
natural to get along. Believe me, conflicts still happened and rules were still broken, yet they were
resolved quickly and without much conflict.
My perspective was forever altered. I realized it was
possible to like my kids. In spite of the madness it was my point of view that
mattered. Whenever I felt the grasp on that perspective slipping, the jars
would come out again for only a few weeks to realign us all.