It looks a lot like the brand new, just released, my son could not wait to read, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, right? It’s not. It’s a peace offering.
I ordered this book for Charlie several months ago knowing that when it was actually released, it would be delivered to our door.
It’s funny how God works out the timing of things.
Charlie is almost 10. He and I had been having a tough time getting along for about a year before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nothing major; I would tell him to do something and he would pretend he didn’t hear me. He would eat his veggies and then ask for a dessert and I’d say no because he didn’t clean his room a week and a half ago. It was like we just kept doing things to get under each other’s skin.
Then breast cancer happened. All of a sudden the pettiness was left behind and we just loved. Our entire family leaned into each other and loved more heartily than we ever had before.
I started the school year healthy and Charlie started the school year with a renewed appreciation for his momma. He’d still ask to finish his video game before he separated laundry, but I could deal with that.
So, imagine my distress when Friday and Saturday and Sunday came around and we were back to our old poke each other with a stick routine. By Monday night, I was sick of the attitude (his and mine). Apparently, so was the rest of the family, because my husband kindly suggested I go to bed at 7:30pm and let him deal with the kids. Basically, I was put in Timeout.
I marched into my room reciting all of the ways in which I was right. Charlie was not listening. He was not following directions. He was not being a cooperative member of the family. I could go on, but I think you moms get the point.
The funny thing is, after a restorative 10 hour night’s sleep, I woke up wondering if maybe I was a little to blame, too. Has that ever happened to you? You are certain you are right and then all of a sudden, you’re not?
Charlie and I had just enough time before school to stand in the kitchen and agree that neither of us likes it when we fight. I can’t even remember if we apologized… it was more of a let’s shake the Etch a Sketch clean and start again.
He was at school when the doorbell rang and the Wimpy Kid appeared.
I was heading to the school anyway, so I thought I’d bring it along. Still unsure of how he saw my role in our little spat, I thought, “Maybe I just need to remind him that I’m on his side.”
And that was it! A lightbulb went on and I got it. I may have been right or I may have been wrong, but it doesn’t matter. My job is to teach my children how to walk through the sticky spots of life with grace and humility. Sometimes that means uncrossing your arms to extend the olive branch or bending down and leaning in when you’d rather remain rigid.
I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that words like “right” and “wrong” are important. I want them to focus on words like compassion and integrity and kindness.
Things were a lot better in our house that night, and in the few nights since then. I’m glad the book didn’t arrive when Charlie was home, or when I could have lorded it over him as a prize for a accomplishing a list of chores.
It was way more fun to give as a peace offering.