Sunday, January 8, 2012

Behold Your Little Ones

During church today I kept thinking about an incident that happened in my house a month or so ago and when I can't get something out of my head, it ends up in my journal.  Since I don't have a journal right now (I haven't written in one since I left California) this story goes in the blog.
It's been five months since my family of four became a family of 8 and we're starting to figure each other out and really act like a family.  I've mentioned in a previous post that describes all of my children how I worry about Vanessa and I clashing. 
I'm not sure if "clash" is the right word.  To put it in plain english, daddy's princess has been spoiled.  She has never been expected to abide by the same rules as the other kids and she's always been treated like a small child, I've seen it with both George and her biological mother.  She sometimes ignores us, once in a great while lies to us, and cries when she's told to do simple things.
She's not a bad child, she's very loving and usually sweet.  She helps me and often plays quietly in her room.  She's so beautiful and innocent most of the time but she's been treated like a 4 year old since her parents divorced and I can't expect her to change overnight and start acting like a 7 year old when it's never been asked of her.  She's trying, and she's getting better and growing up.
This post isn't to bash my 7 year old, in fact it's just the opposite.  I don't think she knows (I hope she doesn't) how frustrated I get at times.  I know she's trying, and I know she gets frustrated with me as well.
Back to the incident I mentioned at the beginnning of this post.  I generally don't yell at the children.  Ok, that's a lie.  I am a yeller and I do yell at the children but it's usually all of them, and not individually singling any of them out.  One day I was frustrated over some of the crap George's ex wife has left (really, crap that she didn't want that now we have to get rid of) and some of the things she's put me through.  She's been unkind and unfair and put me in situations I didn't deserve.  On this day, George was getting rid of her leftover junk and it did absolutely nothing to help my mood.  I was making dinner and trying not to look at the things George was carrying up the stairs and out to the trash but my sweet Vanessa felt the need to tell me what he had in every trip.  I asked her to stop.  She ignored me.  I told her she'd said enough, stop now.  She ignored me again.  I told her very sternly to stop again.  Of course, she didn't.
I finally hollered (not an all out yell, but definitely not a soft motherly voice) "Vanessa!  Stop it!"
She looked up at me and with her little chin quivering, walked to the table and quietly started to cry.
When George tired to comfort her I turned on him, telling him it wasn't his job to make it better when I was disciplining her.  He told me she was crying and I very rudely said "A lesson is being learned.  Next time she won't ignore me."
Five minutes later I hugged her, told her it wasn't nice of me to yell, and that she wasn't to ignore me again.  She headed off to play in her room.
That night we called all of the kids down for scriptures and while they were gathering, George and I went back and forth about something (I have no idea what it was), me telling him he was wrong and him telling me he was right.  We were teasing each other, joking about whatever it was and trying to convince the kids to take sides when Vanessa bounded down the stairs, jumped into my lap, looked at her daddy and hollered "I'm with mom!  I'm ALWAYS with mom!"  Then she put her arms around my neck and smiled her sweet smile at me.
My heart nearly broke.  This child had every reason in the world to be angry with me.  Just a few hours earlier I had been harsh, to put it nicely.  But to her I was deserving of forgiveness and love.  While I had mulled over the situation the rest of the afternoon, feeling really bad for reacting the way I did but also feeling just a little justified in disciplining her, she had forgiven, forgotten and loved me still.  I realized that she truly was meant to be mine.  I'm not here to replace her mother and I never will, but I have her 50% of the time, and during that time she's mine to love, and to mother, and to protect.
Christ has told us to "Behold" our little ones.  According to Webster, to behold is to "See with attention; lay eyes on; perceive by sight or have the power to perceive by sight".  Not to glance at them breifly or occasionally take notice of them, but to behold, to watch and truly see them.  And when we watch them, we learn from them, just as I learned from Vanessa that day of forgiveness and unconditional love.  I believe she's here to teach me and that I have more lessons to learn from her than she has to learn from me.

“And he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
“And when he had done this he wept. …
“And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones” (3 Nephi 17:21–23).


Me said...

Thank you for sharing. Children are amazing teachers.

Amber Merrell said...

I agree! I love having kids, and obviously God knew what he was doing when he brought these children into my life.