Today I told Silas and Cannon that they had to eat a “good amount” of their dinner before they got to have dessert (apples with peanut butter). This is a favorite and usually they gobble dinner down in anticipation for this scrumptious treat. Silas, in big brother, rule-follower fashion, quickly stopped messing around and got down to the business of eating. On the other hand Cannon, my strong-willed cherub, decided he was going to continue to mess around, yelp, fling his head back and forth and laugh about his wild mannered antics. I set the timer for 8 minutes and said if the timer goes off before he finished then he wouldn’t get to have his apple and peanut butter. He proceeded to mess around and his speed at finishing was only slightly faster. Well, after Silas finished (well before the timer went off) he got to have his treat. Cannon continued to just be Cannon and was having a good ‘ole time not letting the timer dictate his behavior. After a few more reminders, he still had at least half way to go.
I was really rooting for him even though he was going so slow, on purpose. I just didn’t want to deal with a melt down once he finished and realized that it was too late. It’s funny thinking about withholding a fruit as a consequence… but that’s how we roll here at our house. Well, the timer finally beeped and Cannon had about 4 more bites left. He announced, “Mom! I’m ready for my apples and peanut butter!!” Silas responded, “Um, Can.. you don’t get to have it because you didn’t finish in time.” I went into the kitchen and was really debating on what to do and weighing my options. (Don’t tell me you haven’t done this with your kids!!) During this time, he finally finished. If I give in and just give it to him, he’ll learn that when mommy says something, it’s optional and he still get his way anyway. If I say ‘no’, he’ll miss out on some yummy apples and peanut butter, throw a fit, and make my heart hurt. It would also teach Silas that only he is subject to the rules and Cannon is exempt. I was leaning toward option 1 but God gave me a loophole. I decided to implement “operation grace.”
I announced that everyday, mommy is going to give grace to each of them when they least expect it. Silas asked, “What’s grace mom?” I thought about it for a second and said, “It’s when you get something good when you don’t deserve to get it.” I could see him thinking about it and I think he liked that idea even if it was for his brother and not him. Cannon was happy to get his dessert and loved the idea of grace. Who wouldn’t? I’m hoping this implementation of daily unexpected grace will help remind all of us of the grace we also receive everyday that God gives to us. I explained how we don’t deserve Jesus, yet He not only died for us but never leaves us by ourselves. I could see the connections starting to develop and wondered why I never implemented this before. I hope the same way they get pardoned for their infractions, they will extend grace to others- including their own mama. I love the way God pops in when we least expect it and says, “Remember me! I love you!” When in doubt, choose grace!