Parents Need to Get the Trash Out

By: Eric Scott

My daughter Andrea is a mother now. Her husband Jonathan is a pilot so she often has three young children to monitor while she prepares dinner on her own after taking the kids to karate and helping them with homework. As a reward for eating their food she occasionally offers a dessert. You know the ploy, “Finish your veggies, Sweetheart, and Mommy will let you have some pie.”

Last week, Adam who is seven asked to have his pie on the Noah plate, the one with animals printed on it. Naturally, when five year old Meredith saw it, she wanted it too. But there’s only one Noah plate, and you already know what happened next. “I asked first,” followed by, “You got it last time,” leading into an escalating debate that grew increasingly emotional. See, it’s not just happening at your house.

Still needing to feed baby Micah who’s only nine months old, Andrea, tired and vexed, knew she needed to intervene. Her objective adult logic wasn’t solving the battle of developing wills from twenty feet away. At her wit’s end, she paused, prayed, and did something her father wants to share with a world that needs to hear it.

“Adam, I would have been very proud if you had offered the Noah plate to your sister this time,” she said, asserting herself into the situation. “Meredith, Adam asked for the plate and got it first. It would please me if you were glad for him. You could have asked to use it the next time. I wish you both could always just want the best for each other.”

“That plate is a problem now,” she sighed in exasperation. “The presence of that plate in our home has brought strife between two of the people I love most in this whole world. It has made you angry and me sad, and interfered with your little brother’s peaceful dinner.” Then, she parented!

“Adam, throw the Noah plate in the trash can,” she said soberly. “I will not have something in this house that divides my children and causes strife between the people I love.” They stood and stared.

“Adam, throw it away,” she sternly repeated. He walked to the pantry. “It’s plastic. Which container should I put it in?” he asked somberly as Meredith silently took it in. “It’s garbage, son. It has come between us. Just throw it away.”

Adam and Meredith quietly enjoyed their desserts on regular plates. Andrea fed Micah, changed his diaper, put his jammies on, and laid him in his bed, already half asleep. The kids bathed, picked up toys, said their prayers and drifted off for a tranquil slumber. Andrea went to each child’s room to tuck them in and give them a kiss. “Mommy loves you very much,” she told each one, sincerely. Peace reigned in her home.

Then she cleaned up the kitchen and threw out the trash. Well done, Andrea, your Father is proud of you. And I am too.

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