At 7 am on the dot, Scooby jumps into bed, sandwiching Joe, and soon after the littlest bun Wookie joins in making me the jelly. "Why don't you give me math problems, mom?" "Okay, what's two times eight?" "Hmmmmm. Sixteen!"
"Thirty-six!" chimes in Wookie who is three and counts "oooone, two, free, SEVEN!", when you ask him to count to four.
"Okay, Wookie, what's eighteen plus eighteen?"
Scooby bursts into laughter.
"What's two times three times two times three?"
"You are right! Scooby, isn't he the smartest baby ever?"
"Oh mom, he's just saying thirty-six!", and he laughs more.
"What's 72,000 divided by 2,000?" pipes in Joe.
Last Friday morning wasn't so lovely. I had bathed Wookie and already dressed him before it took the last of my emotional reserves to take off my mom's old hand-me-down fleece pants and put on my stretchy gym pants. I know... still pajamas. I made lunches and chocolate chip pancakes.
"Wookie, your pancake looks different. See? It's a weird color." Scooby pointed this out and smugly shoveled down a bite.
I had given Wookie the first pancake off the griddle. Those always look weird.
"Wookie's pancake is just as tasty as yours. Wookie, isn't it delicious?"
"But it doesn't look like the rest of them."
"Scooby, stop it. Just eat your pancake."
Soon we were all dressed with a little bit of time to spare.
"Scooby, you have 18 minutes to poop before we need to leave for school."
"How long is 18 minutes?"
"It's long enough to poop."
Several minutes later, a fight escalated from "Give me privacy" to "GET OUT" "Telscoop! Telscoop!" "GET OOOOOUUUUUT!". Blood rushed to my head and I joined in the screaming match before I fully comprehended that Scooby was waving an empty roll of toilet paper over his head as he sat on the potty with his pants at his ankles and Wookie was trying to grab while wailing. Every cardboard tube is his telescope.
A week of not enough sleep and I really wondered if I was going to have to sit down and catch my breath. I shouted words trying to separate the two and end the fight and burst into tears, sputtering something about being mean and lack of respect and why can't you just let him have it, before Scooby finally relinquished the cardboard tube. I slammed the door to give him his precious privacy and fell into the beige chair in the corner of the living room, and Wookie burst into tears. I called him over to me and scooped him up into my lap. I am as much a child in this moment as they are.
Within that eighteen minutes before we headed out the door, I'd broken up a petty but intense fight, cried, comforted Wookie, and lectured them about heart disease and stress and how it isn't healthy for me to get so frustrated. It was "National Wear Red Day" after all. I then explained to them how when they hate their brother, they are actually hating God. I know. Big words for little hearts. But I explained how it hurts my heart when they are mean to each other, because I do love them so much. Both of them. They are my children, and we are all God's children and he loves us and doesn't want us to hurt each other with our words and actions. We can't show people Jesus's love when we are being so unkind to each other.
The drive to school was quiet. My words and their fighting were heavy on my heart. I reached back and patted Scooby's knee. "I love you... I'm upset when Wookie is mean to you too. I love you both."
My children do love each other and typically play together so well, but this past season there has been a lot of one-upmanship. Many "FIRST!" declarations, many "He's not good at that" or "He's too little". Once I responded, "Tell me something your brother IS good at." "Scribbling?" "Try again. I was thinking something like how he's good at trying new foods or good at sharing." "Oh." Scooby never tries new foods. I suppose that was a low dig.
Dropping off Wookie at preschool, I shared with a grandmother of one of his classmates. She was dealing with some of the same jealousy and sibling rivalry. I reflected, "I think I need to find a way to encourage him and make him proud without having to diminish his brother."
That night, I crawled into Scooby's bed and we started talking. He was mad at me that I'd come to his winter show that afternoon and made him smile while he was on stage. Joe was there too, but he didn't mention being mad at him. I was hurt and wanted to leave, but I stayed. I started telling him about what school was like when I was a kid. Wookie was soon asleep on the other side of the room, and Scooby wanted to know about every single grade of school.
"When I was in kindergarten, the boys liked to chase the girls and put them in 'jail'"
"What? Why did they do that?"
"I don't know, it was a game they all played. Well one time, this boy (I told him the first and last name because you just don't forget) came running at me. I just stood there with my arms crossed. He was so shocked and said, 'Aren't you going to run?' 'No,' I said. He turned and walked away."
Scooby loved this story. He asked if the boys and girls didn't play together. They usually didn't, but I remembered one boy who was new that my girlfriends and I took in because the other boys weren't nice to him. Soon Scooby, who'd really been giving me grief all week and who had been icy to me the rest of the day since I used true but big words for his heart, got a big grin and wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed my cheek.
"I love you mom!"
This sweet child needed love. He needed time to talk, to be heard, to be seen and to be given a piece of my heart through my stories. All week I'd worked hard on my paid job, and his heart had grown distant. And as I protected Wookie from Scooby's harsh attitude, it had driven him further away. But now, I'd won back his heart and as I lingered there talking and answering his questions, the reconciliation was so sweet.
By Saturday morning, I was thanking God for the day before. He'd shown me Scooby's heart and given me a glimpse of why His children can be so cruel to each other. We are missing His heart, His stories because we are the ones who are too busy. We are putting down each other to make ourselves seem more important or right or skilled to gain His approval. But there is enough Jesus for us all. He's not busy punching away on his iTrinity or too angry at us to scoop us up and wipe our tears. He hurts when we hurt each other and longs for us to come to Him and to see that we are loved and we are approved. He pursues us and chases us down, but sometimes when we just won't relent, he even grants us our privacy.
Oh, Father, that I would see your other children and how you love them. That I would be confident in your love so that I might love in return!