Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Invasion of the Strangers

As I sit on my couch with my feet propped neatly on my coffee table and a bowl of nachoes to my side.  I smell kerosene.  Yep, like the stuff you burn in an oil lamp.  Why?  "Maybe it was a stranger".  (Or maybe it was a curious 4 year old).

Yes, friends, strangers seem to have invaded our household.  They cause all sorts of mischief and try to make it look like my sweet, innocent boys are at fault.  Oh, the baby is part of the scheming too.
"Why is there baby food on your bed?"
"Um, Maybe it was Azariah".
"I don't think that's how it got there."
"Um, maybe you were feeding him on my bed."
(I promise, I have fed him on the bed - but only "mama milk", never baby food).
"I don't feed him upstairs."
"Or, maybe it was Cassius".
He probably IS plotting against his brothers.
Have I mentioned that my sweet Manasseh turned 4 yesterday?  Some time recently, in the process of getting ready to be 4, he figured out that he does not like to get in trouble.  He also figured out that if he blames someone else, maybe he won't get in trouble.

We value truth.  We are careful to practice teaching our children the truth.  Maybe I'm a little overboard sometimes- they know that Santa isn't a jolly fat man bringing them presents, we are very careful about teasing them with false information (you know, things that parents tell their kids - if you don't eat your spinach you'll never get taller... silly things we use to encourage our children to behave the way we want them to... that aren't really fully truth).  I want my boys to be full grounded in truth as they grow.  We don't shun imagination, in fact - we encourage it.  A box can be a pirate ship (yes, pirates are real and they really steal things and God doesn't like stealing).  We love to pretend to be different things, but I want to make sure my kids know what is real and what is not.  We want to be sure that they recognize there IS a difference between truth and untruth, and that there IS absolute truth.

So, how do we deal with the strangers that keep breaking into our home to make my honest little boys look like criminals?

Calmly.  With expectations up front.  Promise of a better consequence for telling the truth.  Explanation about "why".  (Why we tell the truth, why the problem IS a problem, etc).

So tonight's conversation about the kerosene lamp.  (By the way I realize that I am at fault for leaving the lamp on the end table with full knowledge that my boys have a hard time staying off the arms of the couch once in a while).
Me: Manasseh, what happened to the lamp?

Nas: Um, Maybe it was strangers that did knock it over.

Me: Manasseh, what happened to the lamp?

Nas: Um, Maybe it was Cassius.

Me: Manasseh, what happened to the lamp? (See, I knew he knew what happened, whether it had been him or not he could tell me the truth about what happened).

Nas: I don't know.

Me: Manasseh, I expect you to tell me the truth.  When you tell the truth you don't get in as much trouble and you feel better after you tell the truth.

Nas: It was me that did knock it over.

Me:  Thank you.  I proceeded to clean up the spilled oil and moved the lamp to a safer place while explaining that it is not safe to play with the oil lamp.

Nas: Why it not safe?

He stood in front of me and looked me in the eyes to talk about oil lamp safety.  I could have been angry, but honestly a good part of the problem was the fact that I left the lamp where the kids could knock it over.  I could have been upset about the lie (we're dealing with them somewhat regularly right now and have been talking about why God likes truth).  I don't want him to fear me, but learn to come to me with his needs and problems.

As I think about the strangers invading my house, I am reminded of my own relationship with God.  Sometimes I want to hide things.  I know, it's sillier than my son hiding the fact that he knocked over the lamp.  Still, I shove things deep inside and ignore them until the smell gets so big that EVERYONE notices.  Much like the smell of the kerosene told me there was a problem.

I don't want that.

God, help me be clean and holy.  Bring truth to my lips.  Help me share your truth with those around me.


  1. Thank you for sharing is testimony, jen!! You are such a beautiful mama and friend. This was so well written and I have learned a great deal from what you I usually do from your simple words. Thank you for being such a great example and taking the time to share this sweet example of how to share God's work in our family!

  2. Aw shucks, thanks. I get frustrated some days with preschool behaviors. These guys make me smile though - and things like blaming a stranger for a mess make me chuckle on the inside.