When my daughter was three and a half she got chapstick for Christmas and naively I let her keep it in her little bed pocket to soothe her tiny chapped lips. One morning I discovered she had eaten it… the whole thing. I had all the words to say why she should never do that again and she got more chapstick and didn’t eat it. Yay. Move onto the next thing to tackle as a mom like room cleaning, using kind words and working hard for the things we want in this life.
Fast forward almost 3 years and I am rocking out one particular weekend as a mom. I embraced each sunshining Memorial Day weekend moment fully. Our family stayed up late hanging with friends, enjoying good food, and welcoming summer. We got invited to swim and I sat by the pool watching my girl swim and laugh and I didn’t feel anxious like I should be accomplishing something.
I didn’t hurry her along. I gave grace for grumpiness and fixed foods she liked. Life was good.
Then my parenting went up another notch when she asked for a new app for the Ipad. Toca Hospital. I am not a fan of lots of screen time, so I said she could have it if she earned it and paid for it. Miss Smarty Pants says, “Well, I already have $5 in my piggy bank.” To which I replied, “Well that is saving for things you need and big things you want. If you want this app, you are going to earn new money for it and you can start tomorrow.” I am not sure what logic or reasoning I had in requiring the ‘new money’ but it rolled off my tongue so nicely so I had to stick with it.
The next morning V already knew my plan was to attack the Jumanji garden growing in front of our house. As I was getting my shoes ready to go outside, she quickly left ahead of me. I get to the front walk to see that she had brought out all the supplies to weed the gardens. She had her gloves and hat on and asked if she could earn money.
I was so impressed with her initiative that I said I would give her $1 to weed a certain section. She got right after it and did an excellent job. She asked if there were any inside jobs she could do, so I said her bedroom and the living room. Each would earn $1. She took these seriously and accomplished them in a timely manner.
With three dollars burning a hole in her pocket she was begging for two more jobs. I said I didn’ t have any more and that sometimes you have to work more than one day to make the money you need. I gave a great speech about how mommy and daddy work hard, bla, bla, bla.
She didn’t care and was frustrated that her new game may not be within her reach just yet.
By the evening though, I had found a few more things for her to help with and since she had such a helping cheerful heart, I decided it was all worth the remaining $2. She handed over all the cash she had just earned and I downloaded the app. She was as happy as could be.
But the next morning we woke up to our regular school week routine and V woke up to the almost 6 year old that she was at the time. We had our normal morning struggle and managed to squeak out prayers and loving affirmations before we got out of the car to head into school.
She was in my class last year and so I got a special mommy privilege that not many moms get. It appeared after our marvelous weekend of perfect parenting and obedient motivated daughtering, that she was now having an especially difficult time as a student. I don’t remember exactly what I had to tend to her heart about, but I did and sent her on her way to be a kind friend.
She was playing ever so nicely with another student in the corner and I smiled to myself thinking that I could finally be figuring out this whole mother/teacher thing.
And then she ate the chapstick…
Actually it was an EOS ball. But after 15 years of teaching I have never had a student ask to go get their lip balm. It’s all chapstick. Every kind. Every kid.
Anyways…my daughter, for no reason at all, ate her classmate’s chapstick. I asked her why and she said she didn’t know. She just wanted to. Which in and of itself is bewildering and funny. But let me add that this is the second time she ate the same child’s chapstick this year.
I almost cried. I definitely felt like an incredible failure. How on earth can we go from the best weekend ever of mommy/daughter life to my child eating someone’s chapstick!
Well, this couldn’t just be a grace moment. I had to talk to the parent, who was laughing and much more forgiving than I was as the teacher/mom. We had a LONG talk afterschool about other people’s property and healthy things in our mouths. I took her to Target to buy another two pack for her classmate. I took away her new app for a few days and made her do even more chores to earn back the money I had just spent on chapstick. She wasn’t happy but she understood.
One year later, and I think she is over eating the goop, her own or others. (at least I hope) She has grown and matured and life is still good.
I can’t help but to think this is what God thinks of us as adults. One weekend we are rocking it out. Taking care of our bodies as temples. Loving others instead of judging. Getting outside to enjoy His creations. Being good stewards of our blessings.
And then just like that, we eat the chapstick not really knowing why. We just do because we wanted to. We go back to our bad habits, sins, or mistakes and forget that we are past that behavior already. Sometimes we get grace and it doesn’t really harm anything in the moment. But sometimes we have to own up to our mistake and there is a consequence.
I am so thankful that even though V ate that chapstick, she still wakes up knowing I love her and am here for her another day.
But do we wake up thankful that even though we eat the chapstick sometimes, that God still sees each one of us as His child and loves us?
I have to work on this one somedays more than others and put a few of my bad habits behind me and walk confidently in my life remembering God loves me and I don’t have to earn that love.
What habit or mistake do you need to put behind you today to wake up knowing you are loved?
Soft lips are good. Not eating what makes them soft is better. Keep making your house a love filled home.
High five for home!