Thursday, August 20, 2009
lessons in a bag of sweets
growing up in a large family was an experience. it was crazy, it was rowdy, it was crammed at times and i wouldn't change it for anything.
i didn't think of it then of course, but now i frequently wonder how my parents did it. our home was clean, almost every meal was homemade, there was a schedule, there was order and there was a handful, make it two handfuls, of growing children.
i imagine by lunchtime my mom was frazzled. my dad worked all day and would return home in the evenings. perhaps in a desperate attempt to keep her sanity, my parents concocted a plan. one that i remember well.
they gathered us for family home evening one monday night, i imagine the lesson covered obedience or accountability, one of those lessons you cannot cover too many times while raising a house full of children. for family business we sat there while mom and dad explained that we were going to be taking accountability for our actions from then on.
each evening when dad got home we would gather around the kitchen table. dad would pull out his sparkling bag of sweets and one by one he would ask us how we had been that day. mom wasn't going to tell our horror stories for us, we weren't going to tell each other's mistakes either, just our own.
i have always had a sweet tooth. staring at that big bag of candy was enough to turn me into an angel. for the first few days i did well. most days i got my candy without one "are you sure about that" look from mom. it didn't take too long for me to mess up though. my clean streak was blemished when i got in an ugly scrap with one of my brothers. it was all done and over and i realized that dad would be home soon and i indeed did not deserve any reward for my behavior.
as we sat around the table i debated in my mind what i was going to say. nobody else could speak for me, even if they knew i was not being truthful. and that candy did look especially sweet. being second in line didn't give me much time for decision making. dad called my name and asked the big question. before words could come out of my six year old mouth i was bawling. "i wasn't very nice dad." i told him. "i got in a fight and i was mean. i'm sorry." i knew my conscience would never hold up if i didn't tell him the truth.
after i was done blubbering about my behavior mom and dad both looked at me and smiled. they told me that they were proud of me for being truthful. they asked me if i had apologized to the person i had fought with. i probably had, but i did it again. then dad handed over the bag of candy. i was confused and i guess he could tell because he explained "mom and i want you to be good. sometimes we make mistakes but that doesn't mean we can't fix them. you were accountable for what you did and you tried to make it better. you do deserve a candy."
i learned an important lesson that evening and i was right, the candy really was especially sweet that day.
Chirped by ashley b @ 10:32 PM